6 Things We Need To Stop Shaming People For Spending Money On

It’s hard for people to step back and allow others to do what they might deem irresponsible

The moment you get paid, it’s pretty typical that you have allocated most, if not all, of that money. Whether the money goes towards bills or savings, each dollar has a home. But then, there are a few dollars leftover that sit in a grey area. You are free to spend that money on anything you want. What a feeling!

In an unexpected (but totally expected) turn of events, someone on Twitter tells you that the thing you want to buy is stupid.

The personal finance world is pretty crazy. It’s a small niche, but vast space on the Internet. We come together with the common ideology that financial literacy is a critical lesson that too many people have yet to learn.

In this community, we love money. Like, not just “love money so that we can spend money.” We love all parts of money. Learning about money, having difficult conversations about money and focusing on what we can do with money.

Ironically enough, those of us who spend the most time talking about money and encouraging others to do the same, are the most judgmental of other peoples’ financial behaviours. We also feel the most shame about our personal spending habits.

We worry that others in the community will judge or criticize us for not doing enough research before we book a flight, not investing enough money or not having life insurance. These things that we preach other people should be doing are things that a lot of us ourselves have yet to do, or were late to do just like any other person who wants to be better with their finances.

In private conversations with many personal finance influencers and bloggers, I find we end up having candid conversations about what we do with our money, but resist the urge to share these thoughts online at risk of people feeling we’re not a good example of what this community represents. To be honest, it’s tired.

No one deserves to feel shame if something makes them feel good. Especially for spending decisions that have little to no impact on you.

1. Coffee

Honestly, I’m so over this narrative and so is everyone else. Coffee is not peeing out $1 million, contrary to what some personal finance experts may spout. I buy coffee because it’s my daily escape. I buy coffee because it’s good. I buy coffee and I don’t owe you an explanation and I also don’t feel guilt for the price tag. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Hortons, homemade — you decide. End of story.

2. Designer clothing

We are very happy for you that you could find the same jeans at a non-designer store. Same. I actually buy those pants, too. But some of us and sometimes even you want to splurge on clothing that will last a long time, and that will look nice for special events. That’s okay. You are allowed to buy clothing that sparks a Marie Kondo kind of joy.

3. Dining out or ordering in

I love going out for dinner with my girlfriends, and I love ordering Skip the Dishes on Bachelorette Mondays. These expenses are part of my lifestyle — as basic or overrated as they may be. They allow me to enjoy good food and take a night off of cooking a meal. Because I do that, too. Everyone does.

4. Weddings

Yes, they are expensive. Yes, it’s a crazy overrated industry. But guess what? If someone wants to have the most memorable day of their life, wear the most expensive dress they’ve ever owned, and order enough booze for 200 people to enjoy — they can. On the flip side, stop shaming people for spending “too little”. If someone wants to use plastic cutlery and order pizza — they can. It’s their money. It’s their day. Not yours.

5. Subscription services

If you like FabFitFun, if you want to support your favourite comedian on Patreon or if you love a newsletter that costs $10/month — you are allowed to do that. Personally, getting mail is still a very enjoyable surprise. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to, and when it does, it’s nice to know that it’s a gift you got yourself rather than the chain letter you tried to break in the summer of 1999.

6. Special events

Whether you are celebrating your child’s birthday, going to a four-day music festival or taking a spur of the moment trip to Seattle; the truth of the matter is that we’re all just a little bit jealous that we aren’t doing the same. The tickets, the flight and the cake were probably expensive — but you made the choice to value your memories and moments more than that money, which if you haven’t guessed by the theme of this story, is your choice.

If you read this and shook your head in disgust, congratulations for being frugal.

No, seriously. I’m impressed. I’m also proud of myself for making tough money decisions that not many others would be strict enough to fight.

It’s hard for people to step back and allow others to do what they might deem irresponsible, but it’s also very important. If you expect them to understand when you don’t feel the need to spend money, it’s only fair to understand when they do want to spend money. Either that, or we can all agree to be hypocrites and generally let go of control — considering we have none anyways.

Let’s stop shaming people about their personal finance decisions. The decisions are personal for a reason.