Telling Myself “It’s Okay” to Buy Something

I had now scared myself out of buying anything, ever.

It’s been 5 months since I paid off the last of my $10,000 of consumer debt. I remember seeing both credit cards sitting at a balance of $0 and almost tearing up because I had accomplished something that had caused me serious mental instability over the past 5 years. The late nights staying up thinking about how I was going to make the minimum payment this month have subsided, and the days working in fear of losing my job for financial security have passed. But I still worry. All the time.

Last week, I went out to purchase a few gifts for my friends birthdays this month (I had 5 friends with birthdays in April, THE HORROR). I grabbed some cards, and then was walking around debating what to get for gifts. I couldn’t find anything I liked, so all I had in my cart was 3 birthday cards.

“What on earth was I thinking spending more than $10 on cards if I wasn’t going to purchase anything else?” was my thinking. So I put the cards back and left.

I headed over to the dollar store to check if they had something I needed for work, and while there I realized that they have birthday cards (and at a much more reasonable price)! I grabbed 3 more cards and then looked for the work item I needed. They didn’t have it, so I ended up heading back to the same mindset. “Well, if all I’m buying is these 3 cards then what’s the point?”

That’s right. I put back a $3 purchase after coming up with the lamest excuse in the world.

When I got to my truck, I realized I didn’t buy anything today not because of the cost, or not finding what I needed. But because I was afraid to purchase anything. Even though I could afford it.

Since spending an entire year avoiding spending any money on things that weren’t moving me in the direction towards becoming debt free, I had now scared myself out of buying anything, ever.

I have gone to the mall since, and hated everything I saw. I thought that because it had been a year since I bought any new clothing that maybe I just didn’t like shopping anymore, but now I realize that it’s merely because all I see is the price tag. Not the item.

So how do I tell myself that it’s okay to buy something?

My new plan of attack is this:

  • Ask myself if it’s a need. If it is, buy it.

  • If it’s not, ask myself if I can afford it?

  • If I can afford it, I’ll ask if it will make myself or someone else happy for what it’s worth.

  • If yes, buy. If no, move on.

  • If I say no and I am still thinking about it over the next 24 hours, go back and buy.

My fiancé and I have decided to spend our money on experiences over “stuff” when it comes to future birthday, anniversary, or seasonal gifts. The things that we want can normally be purchased on our own, so wouldn’t it be best to surprise one another with things we can do together?

I feel as though this same mindset would do me justice when deciding or telling myself that “it’s okay”.

Spending money that I’ve earned sometimes means enjoying the time and effort put into becoming financially sound. It would be a pretty boring life if I let myself miss out on fun or important purchases because I’m a little bit stuck in my debt repayment ways.

What are some reasons you give yourself to avoid spending money? Let me know in the comments.

Oh, and here is a good read if you are going through something similar!