Are You Good at Spending Money?

Are you good at spending money? I’m not.

Well, I take that back. I seem to have no problem spending more money than I maybe ought to — on eating out, things for other people, or stuff that makes the house look nicer.

But when it comes to spending money on actual physical things for myself, that’s another matter.

I can’t figure out if that’s just because I have an aversion to getting stuff in general (which I do), or if it’s also because I somehow don’t think I ought to be buying things for myself.

As sort of a test of this, for more than a year now I’ve been getting release point therapy (which is vaguely like a massage, only a thousand times better) every month. It’s not a physical thing, but it’s definitely just for me.

I still kind of cringe when I spend that money.

I think many women have this problem. They’re fine with buying new outfits for the kids, or a replacement doormat for the front door, or a soft new bed for the dog. But buying something — a physical thing — that’s just for us is somehow harder to do.

I don’t know if it’s that we think we have to justify the things we buy, or what. Clothes might be the exception to that, but then again we usually buy clothes because we “need” them for a particular purpose. Or because they’re on sale, or…you get the picture. I rarely hear a woman say “I bought that jacket because I just wanted it!”

I wonder sometimes if we bought more things strictly for ourselves “just because” if we would actually end up spending less overall. (And maybe be more satisfied too.) What do you think? (And guys, do you have this problem?)


  • I’m not so good at spending money. Oh, I can do it pretty easily, but then I’m usually angry about it afterwards. The only time I end up not getting frustrated is if I research the crap out of something before buying it and spending as little as possible.

    • CF, I usually feel worse when I research the heck out of something first, because for some reason I choose things that end up lasting longer/working better if I just go with my gut.

  • Crystal

    I’m getting better. My hubby’s view of money has rubbed off on me: Money is a tool.

    1. Use it for survival.
    2. Save it for your future survival necessities.
    3. If Criteria 1 and 2 are met, use it to make yourself and others happy.

    The trick for us was deciding how much to save (35%-40%)…now I don’t have guilt when I buy something I want. I still wait a little while before buying it to make sure I’m not just wasting money, but I do allow myself fun purchases more often.

    • Crystal, I really like the idea of deciding how much to save. (Currently I usually just save “as much as possible” once the various specific savings buckets are filled.) I never thought of limiting it…

      • Crystal

        Yeah, I hadn’t thought of limiting savings either, but I think it’s just the other side of people who need to limit spending. For money hoarders, we need a system to allow ourselves some “fun” money. If we have any extra money at the end of our billing month after all our goals are met, we split it evenly between our Emergency Fund and our Vacation Account. We figure that’s a good balance.

  • I’m not good at spending money either! On everyONE and everyTHING else, yes. On myself, no. I somehow manage to say: you don’t need that. I once saved money to buy something that I wanted and ended up not spending it on me. But on buying things for other people. Thats a goal that I’m working on. Spending money on myself.

  • fallingintofavor, maybe we should have a goal, buy one thing just for ourselves each month!

  • Ted

    I am fantastic at spending money! But I have worked really hard the best 2 years to reign it in and use money as a tool. Plus the idea of having a place for every dollar in your budget, is something I am working on this year. It has been great so far! But I love spending :( I am sure that when we are finally out of debt, I will relax some. But no where near where I used to be!

    • Ted, that’s great that you’re using money as a tool. I imagine it will work out fine to relax some when you’re out of debt too, since you’ll have more money each month.

  • Jennifer

    I have almost stopped spending money on myself over the past two years. It started out as saving money to move back out of my parents’ house and just got out of hand.

    I have no problem spending money on my daughter. I see a new toy or outfit that I think that she would like and I will buy it if I have the extra cash. I never feel guilt over these purchases.

    I read somewhere about planning in advance of splurging on yourself and am going to try it out. I really want to upgrade my 15 year old TV to a flat screen. I figure if I research and save up for the purchase then I can treat myself and feel no guilt. At least that is my hope.

    I also like your idea of treating myself to something once a month. This month was an inexpensive purse for the spring. Yea!

    • Jennifer, guilt is the problem for me too. It IS ok to spend money on ourselves though — we’re just as worth it as our family members. (It’s only when spending in general gets out of hand that it’s a problem.) Happy TV shopping!

  • I’ve always disliked spending money on anything except investments. It is a good dislike to have frankly.

    • JadeDragon, I suppose having a general dislike of spending money is a good thing as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. (Moderation in all things and all…)

      I think one of the problems with spending it on other people instead of ourselves is that it may either mean that we just plain old don’t like having a lot of stuff (which is mostly true for me) or that we have a problem feeling that we are worth buying things for (also true for me.)

  • Daniel

    Hey, Jackie

    I was going to say that I don’t have that problem but… I actually do, in a weird way.

    In my mind, I have a minimum amount of money that my bank account must reflect back
    to me whenever I look at it. So, as long as I have a number above that number (currently
    over 1.000 euros in savings, here in old Europe), I’m fine spending money for me. I
    recently purchased an iMac for 1.200 euros and I’m happy as a pig with it, no regret about
    spending the money.

    However, whenever I feel like going below that minimum amount, I get nervous.

    Well, I don’t think it’s a bad thing, just wanted to add my two cents.

    Great blog, btw.



    • Daniel, glad you like the blog. That’s probably good though to get nervous when your account goes below a certain amount, and to feel good about doing the things you want to do when things are in line with your goals.