How to Stop Feeling Guilty about Spending Money

Have you ever felt guilty about spending money? I know that I used to feel guilty when I spent money. It seemed wrong to spend money — especially on things and experiences I found enjoyable, but weren’t actually necessary.

Some of the guilt has to do with the fact that you might not have a lot of money, or that you might be trying to get rid of debt. My problem, though, was that after pinching pennies for so long, it was difficult for me to move beyond that. Even when I had enough money for what I wanted, I still felt bad about spending it.

If you feel guilty about spending money, here’s how you can change how you feel about your finances:

Recognize that Your Priorities are Covered

One of the first steps is to recognize that your priorities are covered. Look at your spending priorities. What are the most important items on your list? If you have covered your priorities, such as saving for retirement and giving to charity, remind yourself of that. Your priorities are covered, and you are setting yourself up for the future. Since you have taken care of these items, you can now spend a little money on the things that you enjoy.

It can be hard to shed those habits, but feeling guilty about using money to enjoy your life now can hamper your relationships with money later. And, even when you retire, it can be hard to enjoy yourself if you still have hangups about spending money.

Spend on What You Truly Enjoy

One of the reasons that many of us end up with buyer’s remorse is because we often spend our money on things that we don’t truly enjoy. We might buy things because we are “supposed” to, rather than because it makes us happy or improves our quality of life. Then you feel bad because you not only spent on something frivolous, but you also spent on something that you don’t really like.

Instead, consider spending money on what you truly enjoy. Look into yourself and think about what you consider worthwhile. I enjoy experiences, and research indicates that people enjoy experiences more than they enjoy things. I feel less guilty about spending money on an experience I really enjoy, such as going to an outdoor concert with my husband, than on buying another trinket for display in the house.

Spending on the things, experiences, and people that are important to you, and that improve your quality of life, can be a good way to get over some of your guilt about spending money. When you can broaden your horizons, and forge deeper connections with your loved ones, you feel better about your life, and you enjoy yourself more. Spending money in a way that allows you to do this can be one way to avoid some of the guilt you might feel about spending money.

Remind Yourself that Money Isn’t an End Itself

Finally, one of the reasons that people often get hung up on spending is due to the fact that many of us see money as an end itself, rather than a means to an end. View your money as a resource that can help you reach your goals and help you live the life you want. Rather than feeling as though you need a certain amount of money to be successful, or “keeping score” through how much you amass, take a look at the situation and realize that money is a tool. When you view it as a tool to be used, you are less likely to feel guilty about spending it. Just make sure that the spending you do aligns with your values and goals.

Of course, you don’t need to spend money to be happy. You can be happy without spending a lot of money. At the same time, though, if you have your finances in order, there is no reason to feel guilty when you do spend money in ways that enhance your life and that fit with your goals and priorities. Remind yourself of that, and let go of some of the guilt.


How to Stop Feeling Guilty about Spending Money — 7 Comments

  1. I sometimes tend to overthink our spending and feel guilty for indulging in something nice to eat (we’re usually spending more on groceries). But then I’m reminded that we have no debt, we’re earning very well and are actually doing well. So, a bit of indulgence here and then won’t kill anyone 😀

  2. I love these tips! One thing I noticed is that when my wife and I setup a part of budget dedicated to “blow money”, I didn’t feel guilty about spending it. I knew I had $50 every month to spend on anything I wanted. That mindset has been great for dieting in the past too. If I have a cheat day, I never feel bad about eating junk, because I know it’s only once per week.

  3. I don’t have a problem spending my money on things that I truly enjoy and bring value to my life. After all, isn’t that why we work so hard to earn money? 🙂

  4. Oh, money guilt. It’s so weird. No matter what you do, someone can make you feel bad about it. You think what someone else spends money on is foolish, they think what you spend money on is ridiculous. You’re right, you have to do what’s right for you. 🙂

  5. Well I earned it and it is my money so I can do what I want, but I do know that feeling of saving and saving and then finally spending. I’m just trying to do my best and it’s good to review and check my purchases before hand. I’d rather feel a little guilty than have no guilt at all and just spend like crazy

  6. Great tips. We allocate a certain amount of our monthly budget as “play” money. We can spend this money guilt free so we can still do things like eating out, go to the movies, and other fun stuff.

  7. The main way I get around this is to put money away for things. I used to freak out about draining savings for a vacation. Solution? Put $100/month away into a vacation fund. Similarly, giving Tim some fun money made things easier. He’s more conscious about what he buys, and I don’t have to freak out if he buys up $50 of graphic novels once in a blue moon.

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