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How to Spend Money on Yourself Guilt-Free

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When I spend money on myself, I often end up paying interest—not in money, but in guilt.

We’re constantly reminded about the importance of saving money, but there are fewer lessons on how to spend it. I often feel like I’m supposed to save whatever money isn’t already earmarked for expenses like housing, utilities, groceries, and other essentials.

But that’s not realistic. We can’t live purely frugally and save all our money for retirement. There’s living and spending we have to do now. So, here’s some advice for my future self on how to spend money without being racked by guilt.



How can you spend without guilt if you aren’t sure how your finances stand? Before you can buy without remorse, you have to be clear about your financial situation—what are your expenses? what can you afford? and, perhaps most importantly of all, what are your financial goals? Then, start developing your financial skill set so you can manage your money confidently, from making a budget to building credit, and all the skills in between.



How do you think about the money in your bank account? Is it something that you’re afraid you’ll lose, or is it a resource that you can replenish? If you can, try switching your mindset from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance.

This doesn’t mean that you are willfully ignorant of your financial reality. Sometimes we have to tighten our purse strings. But when we’re in good financial shape, we don’t necessarily have to continue cinching our belt as tight as can be. We can trust that we can afford this expense and that we will earn that money back.



Generally speaking, our parents are our primary financial role models for the first 20 years of our lives. It’s almost inevitable that we inherit some of their financial habits—and they’re not always good ones.

It can be hard to retrain ourselves to act differently, with our finances or any other habit. But you don’t have to treat your earnings the same way that your financial role models do or did. You are your own person and can have your own approach to managing your money. And you don’t have to feel guilty about it!



The easiest way to spend money without guilt is to budget for it. If you already factor self-care spending into your budget, then you know you can afford it. There might be trade offs you have to make—do you want to go out to dinner twice a month or put that money towards a vacation?


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Not all of your money has to go into literal investments. You can think about certain purchases as alternative investments, as it were. Books and professional development courses can level up your skills and increase your earning potential (that includes financial literacy!). House renovations can increase the value of your property. Going to therapy, visiting friends, and paying for that mindfulness app are all important investments to increase your mental health. You need to plan and put aside for retirement, yes, but these alternative investments are also necessary!



One of the best ways to spend without guilt? Earn more money! To steal an idea from financial writer Ramit Sethi, you can only cut back your expenses by so much. Your earning potential, however, has no limit. You might have to learn a new skill, change careers, or (gulp) ask for a raise, but you can always earn more money.



Tell me how you spend your time and money, and I’ll tell you what your priorities are. However, sometimes our spending and our values become misaligned. Go back through your recent spending and see where you can better align with what you value. (You can even use a budgeting app that can help categorize your spending for you.)

If you want to live a more minimalist life, see where you can cut back on buying things (and sell things to make some money back!). If you value learning, reallocate some of your budget from bars and alcohol to buying books (can you tell I like to read?). If you want to be physically fit, get that gym membership (and actually go to the gym…).



There’s the dollar value that something is given. Then there’s the value that you give it. They might not be the same, and that’s okay. For example, you can cut costs on food, but you might get more value out of splurging on a nice meal every once in a while. For me, I enjoy drinking the occasional beer, and the cost of an expensive craft brew from a local brewery is worth it to me. You might get joy out of getting your nails done every Saturday. To each their own!



However you choose to spend your hard-earned money, make it worth your while. Don’t let the fancy olive oil go unused. Get the most out of your gym membership. Read that book, and if you like it, read it again next year. At the end of the day, it’s your money, and not even J.G. Wentworth gets to decide the best way for you to spend it.

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Nick Bohlen

About Nick Bohlen

Nick Bohlen is a communications strategist at VSECU, sharing ideas and information with staff, members, and Vermonters. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, traveling, and exploring Vermont’s great outdoors with his wife, daughter, and dog.
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