Society, messages from the media, and pressure from family and friends can make you feel guilty about spending money. Even your money mindset makes you feel like you should be doing other things with your funds. It’s as if you should only be spending money on the things that you need, and not ever treating yourself to the things that you want.
There’s guilt about spending too much, not saving enough, and guilt about spending money on the “wrong” things. When you start to feel guilty about spending money, especially spending money on yourself, remember that money is a tool.
As you work through this process, remind yourself that you shouldn’t feel guilty about using what’s available to you.
Why do I feel guilty spending money?
There are many reasons why you feel guilty after spending money. Your guilt could be stemming from childhood, a lack of planning, or a shift in priorities.
Knowing the source of the guilt is beneficial as you work on combatting it. Whatever the cause, it is important to ask yourself “why do I feel guilty spending money?” to get to the root of the issue.
You have a scarcity mindset
The way that you treat and feel about money is often based on a money mindset stemming from childhood. So, for instance, if you grew up seeing your family struggle financially then you may still feel guilty after spending money today. Even if you have the means to spend freely!
Money and financial wellbeing are tied to emotions. You feel good when you are able to take care of what you want and need. You feel bad when you fall short. Guilt creeps in when you feel like you shouldn’t be spending money on something or spending on yourself at all. And that guilt feeds into the scarcity mindset.
To combat guilt, you will need to shift your mindset away from thinking that spending money on things that you enjoy is a bad thing. Limiting beliefs cause you to feel guilty about spending money. However, treating yourself is important and you shouldn’t feel bad for doing so.
You feel like your money should be put to better use
You may also feel guilty about spending money because you feel like you could be putting it towards something better. Maybe you feel pressured to save your money or put additional money towards a goal or expense.
Spending doesn’t feel safe, especially now in a time of uncertainty, and you feel guilty about spending money because you are afraid of not having enough of it.
Guilt arises from a lack of planning. You feel worse about spending when your ducks aren’t in a row and you don’t know where you stand. Better planning permits you to spend by making you aware of your situation and the money that you have available to spend.
Make a plan to be sure that your financial goals and responsibilities are taken care of, and also plan for spending so that you don’t feel guilty about it later.
You’re buying things that don’t align with your values
In a world fueled by social media and influence, you may feel guilty after spending money because of the things that you buy. When you purchase things that don’t align with your wants, needs, or values, you may feel guilty after spending money.
Making purchases because of someone’s influence or to keep up with your peers can cause buyer’s remorse if those purchases don’t reflect your desires.
These feelings of regret and guilt can even cause you to feel guilty about spending money on things that you do actually want. After making a financial decision that you regret, that guilt can carry over and prevent you from spending on things that do align with your values and priorities.
How to not feel guilty about spending money
To be able to spend your money guilt-free, it is important to identify your triggers and make plans to handle your finances responsibly. Enjoying the benefits of your hard work is important too, and there are steps that you can take to encourage guilt-free spending.
1. Take care of your responsibilities
Check in with your financial responsibilities and your goals. Being able to see that you are still on track and making progress helps alleviate guilt. Many times when you’re thinking “why do I feel guilty after spending money?”, it’s because you feel like you’re not taking care of some other need or responsibility.
Track your finances to make sure your necessities and goals are being met, and to get an overall picture of where you stand. When you feel like you have a good handle on things, spending freely and without guilt becomes easier.
2. Determine what causes you to feel guilty after spending money
To answer the burning question "Why do I feel guilty after spending money" you need to determine what is causing this guilt. Is it your money mindset? Are you comparing your financial situation to others? Do you feel guilty about spending money on certain things?
It’s important to figure out what is triggering the guilt. Identifying what’s causing your guilt gives you a point of focus as you work through getting rid of it. You need to understand what it is about spending money that brings about these feelings so that you can eliminate those triggers moving forward.
3. Make a plan for your money
Now you know where you stand financially, and you know what causes your guilt. After eliminating those triggers, it’s time to take control of your money by making a plan for it. Budgeting helps take away the stress and feeling guilty about spending money.
Creating a budget is not meant to be seen as negative or restricting. It’s meant to provide guidance and help you see that you can afford to spend money. It also helps to eliminate you feeling guilty or feeling like you are always running out of money.
After making sure that your needs and goals are handled, give yourself a monthly allowance with the specific intent of spending freely.
Setting aside a portion of your pay to spend on things that you want cultivates a shift in mindset that alleviates guilt and anxiety.
For times when you feel like treating yourself, create a list of things that you want to buy. Since these are things that you want and are planning to purchase, you won’t feel guilty about spending the money.
You’ll feel better about spending on these things when it’s planned and there’s less room for impulse and buyer’s remorse.
If you are saving for a big ticket item, then you could consider a temporary spending freeze while you save for it or after you've made the purchase. This can also help you avoid guilt.
Proper planning allows you to get more out of your money. So create a budget to provide guidance, and cultivate an environment where you enjoy money rather than thinking that you’re wasting it.
4. Learn to be ok with spending money on what you value
Most of the time, we find it easier to spend money on others but feel anxious about spending it on ourselves. Don’t feel bad about spending on what you like, value, and enjoy! You work hard and you should be able to enjoy your earnings without feeling guilty about it.
If needed, cut back spending on things that aren’t important to make room for the things that you value. For larger purchases, plan and save money for that specific purpose so that you can spend freely and without guilt when it’s time to make the purchase.
Consider the positive aspects and feelings that come from value-based spending. What benefit will you receive from spending on the item or experience? How will it make you feel? Focusing on guilt causes negative feelings, so think about the positive aspects of spending on what’s important to you.
Stop feeling guilty about spending money!
You spend a lot of time working to earn your money, and you shouldn’t feel guilty after spending it. Budgeting and spending on things that are important and align with your values is not a waste.
Remind yourself that there’s no reason to feel guilty after spending your money on what you want. Next time you ask yourself “why do I feel guilty after spending money?”, consider these tips to get rid of the guilt and enjoy spending without it.
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