I am a firm believer that money is a means to an end, and not an end itself. I came to this conclusion after years of feeling guilty whenever I spent money. Even spending money on things that I needed, with money that I had, occasionally made me feel guilty. However, there isn’t much point to having money if all you do is hoard it, and you never use it on something you enjoy.
If you have a great deal of debt, perhaps there is a reason that you feel guilty when you spend money. However, if you are aggressively paying down debt, and if you have an emergency fund started, an occasional indulgence need not be reason for guilt.
Here are some strategies you can employ to help you reduce the guilt you feel when you spend money:
1. Honestly Evaluate Your Financial Situation
Look at where you are at financially. If you are in a stable place, and if you have established an emergency fund and paid down your consumer debt, give yourself permission to spend a little bit on something you really enjoy. You have to be honest about your situation, though. If you are still struggling with paying down credit card debt, or if you have no emergency fund, it might be a good idea to direct some of your resources into taking care of these financial priorities.
2. Recognize that You Have the Money for It
If the only way you can “afford” something is to get into debt, perhaps there is a reason for your guilt at spending the money. However, if you have the money available to you, and it is not earmarked for more important things, you can remind yourself that you have the money for it. When I paid down a good chunk of my debt a few years ago, and I started making a little more, I realized that it was okay to the movies or go out for dinner on occasion.
3. Save Up for It
One of the best ways to alleviate the guilt that can come with spending money is to save up for what you want. Create a goal, and then actively set aside money for it. That way, it will help you feel as though you have “earned” it, whether it is a $50 video game, a twice-monthly lunch at your favorite restaurant, or a $3,000 vacation.
4. Find an Alternative Source of Income
If you like spending money on scrapbooking stuff, consider signing up for an affiliate program that provides you with a discount — and the opportunity for income. There are a number of programs like this that can allow you to cover the expenses associated with a hobby you enjoy. Another option is to look for ways to make a little extra money. I know one woman who runs a website. She calls her earnings “shoe money.” She uses the money she makes (about $100 a month) to make “fun” purchases of clothes, books or nice lunches with her friends.
Bottom Line: Spending money doesn’t always have to be guilt-inducing. It is possible to learn to enjoy some of the small pleasures that come with being able splurge on occasion.