It’s OK to Spend Money on Things You REALLY Want

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that it’s never ok to spend money — unless you actually need something. And, while it is important to watch how you spend your money, and be conscientious about it, there’s no reason to assume that spending money on things other than survival is a bad thing.

Of course, I have that opinion because my money personality is that of a spender. I like spending money, and I’m not known for my frugality. It’s ok to spend money, but you also have to have a few ground rules so that things don’t get out of hand.

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Have You Taken Care of the Really Important Things?

First of all, you need to make sure that you have taken care of the really important things. If you have credit card debt, you should be paying that down as quickly as possible. What about your other obligations? The mortgage, groceries, insurance, utilities, and other required items need to be paid for as well. Take care of those things before you spend money on the non-essentials.

Additionally, take a look at your long-term financial goals. If you want to save for retirement, build an emergency fund, or send your kids to college, you need to make sure those items are taken care of as well. Being a spender, and enjoying the things your money can buy, should come only after you have fulfilled your responsibilities to yourself and others.

Decide what you want your money to accomplish in the long run, and take steps to make that happen before you spend money on the fun stuff.

Only Spend on Things You REALLY Want

There are lots of ways to waste your money. One of the worst, though, is buying things that you don’t actually want. How many times have you bought something that you thought was just “ok”? You probably regretted it later. Often, we find ourselves buying things that we don’t really care for. You might want to impress visitors to your home with your big TV. Perhaps you think that you are “supposed” to have two cars because everyone else in your neighborhood does.

Spending can quickly become a problem when you are buying things to impress others and going places to make other people happy. If you don’t like going to the movies, don’t go. Be picky about what you spend your money on. For years, my husband assumed I hated spending money because I didn’t want to buy stuff. He’s finally understanding that I would rather have experiences. So I spend my money on things like travel and eating out.

There is no reason to spend money on things other people want and enjoy. Instead, think about what’s important to you, and only spend on those things (once your obligations are taken care of).

Make Sure You Can Afford It

The most important rule of spending money is to make sure you can afford it. After you have paid for the important things, I think it’s totally cool to spend money on things you enjoy. Just don’t go into debt for it. I save up for some of my bigger trips, and my husband saves up for the more expensive things he wants to buy.

We spend almost all of our money every month. However, we don’t spend on the “fun” stuff until after the retirement account contribution has been made, our charitable giving has been accomplished, the emergency fund has a little more in it, and our bills and obligations are discharged. We think it’s important to enjoy some of our money now, so we use it on things we actually like. Some months, that means putting the money aside for use later (like a trip to a conference).

There’s no reason to get caught up in the idea that spending money is always bad. While too much materialism is probably undesirable, there are experiences and things that can enhance your life, whether you are going camping, remodeling your home, enjoying a good book, or watching the game on a big screen TV. Figure out what you like to do, and what’s important to you, and consider spending on those things.

Of course, the simpler your tastes, the less you’ll spend!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.



Author

By , on Jul 30, 2012
Miranda Marquit Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

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{4 Comments}

  1. kate:

    According to the link i am a saver/security seeker. I take every purchase very seriously and i research everything to make sure that i am making the right choice. However i was taught during classes on personal finances that some money should be spent “sharpening the saw” meaning that in order to keep going and never get caught up in a spending spree on credit you should spend a little on fun stuff periodically.

    My most recent sharpening the saw purchase was *blush* buying the first season of teen wolf on dvd. I cannot explain why i like that show, but i do. I waited until it was 15 bucks (regular price is $40), that way i could rationalize that it was just 5 dollars per dvd (which i consider a splurge compared to the 3 dollar dvd bin, but not so expensive that i freak out)

    I actually went about calculating the cost vs the benefit in the form of hours enjoyed.

    Anyway, if you really really want something, and you have the cash, and the benefits outweigh the costs, i say go ahead and sharpen that saw

  2. Can’t thank you enough for posting something that I was looking for. I am a hardcore saver therefore strictly maintain budget. Hence whenever I spend too much money for the purpose of shopping for the members of my family, I end up getting panicked thinking about it’s consequences. I always feel hesitant to waste money for shopping thinking it may cause problem for tomorrow.

  3. I am a saver, and often feel guilty after making purchases for myself. Thanks for posting! Maybe I will feel less guilty next time. :)

  4. Great post, I tend to act the same way, I am very hesitant in letting go of the surplus funds because I am a saver since forever.

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