13 Ways To Stop Feeling Guilty About Spending Money

Take control of your finances and silence the guilt surrounding spending.

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Updated July 11, 2024
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It’s common to feel guilty about spending money on nonessentials. That’s true even if you have a plan to get out of debt and your finances are well in hand.

It can be tough to get past this money mindset. But these simple techniques can help you learn to spend a bit of cash responsibly so you can enjoy the good things in life without feeling guilty about it.

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Dig into why you resist spending money

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Saving money and improving your financial fitness are good things. But obsessing about every penny is not healthy.

Feeling guilty about spending money is a problem that resides in your mind. Sorting out your mental money scripts and negative self-talk is crucial to releasing yourself from guilt around spending money.

Talk to a therapist or a trusted friend to uncover where your shame is coming from.

Change your language around money

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Understanding how your mind influences your spending patterns takes some time. On the other hand, you can start changing the language you use in regard to spending money today.

Instead of saying, “I can’t afford this,” or “That’s too expensive for me,” you can say, “I’m not choosing to spend my money on this,” or “I can save up to buy that later.”

Small shifts in how we speak can lead to big changes in how we think about money.

Use a budget

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While many see a budget as restrictive, it can also be liberating. When you know where your money is going, you know exactly how much you have left over for the fun stuff.

That allows you to spend without worrying about whether or not you have covered your basic needs.

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Pay for the important stuff first

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Paying obligations like the mortgage right away — or putting money into savings the day you get a paycheck — helps you to feel more responsible.

It also gives you peace of mind because you know the rest of your budget is negotiable.

Once you have contributed to your emergency fund and paid down debts, you will likely feel more comfortable spending money on more frivolous but fun things.

Make a fun fund

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Make “lavish” spending something you plan. Whether you enjoy eating out with friends, skiing, or dumping cash on quality fishing tackle or a great pair of shoes, make a line item in your budget for these things.

Creating a fund specifically so you can use it to splurge will leave you less likely to feel like you’re throwing caution to the wind when you spend on fun things.

Use milestone events to splurge a little

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If you have your eye on something extravagant, tie the purchase to a personal milestone.

For example, you might determine that once you land another big client at work, finish organizing the garage, or hit your 100th day at the gym, you will splurge on yourself.

Cut spending on things you don’t care about

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Sometimes, you can assuage guilt simply by rearranging spending.

If you buy certain things to keep up appearances or out of social obligation — such as owning a certain type of car or eating out with co-workers — consider dropping those expenses and using the money you save to spend on something that truly brings you joy.

Save for expensive items

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It can be hard to fork over a large chunk of cash all at once, even for things you want.

So, if the sticker price of an item leaves you feeling guilty, put away a set amount for the product each week until you can pay for the entire thing.

Remember that paying for quality is worth it

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Sometimes, spending a little more can save you money in the long run.

When you are reluctant to buy the nicer, more expensive version of something — tires, mattresses, and shoes, for instance — research how long it will last compared to the cheaper version.

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View spending as an investment

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Some purchases will pay you back in time or money. For example, grocery delivery isn’t a necessity for most people, but it saves them hours each week at the grocery store.

It also prevents them from making impulse purchases. That means delivery can actually amount to a net gain, even if it costs a little more.

Use coupons, sales, and other discounts

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The psychological trick of feeling like you are saving money on something you buy can reduce the guilt of spending.

Before your next opulent purchase, check cashback apps, sales, coupons, and other sources of discounts on the item.

Mute sources of financial shame

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Everyone has an opinion about what is and isn’t OK to do with your money. Some people voice these opinions in a loud and judging manner.

Whether these voices come from the radio or your family, limit your exposure to them. Make your financial decisions based on your values, not someone else’s.

Prioritize yourself

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Often, we have an easier time spending money on others — such as our children or a partner — than we do on ourselves.

Don’t forget that you are a member of your family too. Yes, it’s important to get ahead financially and take care of your loved ones. But your needs and wants are just as important as those of others.

Bottom line

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Part of a healthy financial mindset is enjoying life's pleasures occasionally. The occasional splurge should be OK if you're otherwise responsible with your money and plan to build wealth.

Take care of your daily needs, save for an emergency, and put away money for your future. Then, you can dip into a little of what you have left and spend on the things you care about.

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Author Details

Jenni Sisson

Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.