START TRACKING YOUR SPEND
Get to know where you spend, how it makes you feel and what really matters when it comes to your money!
Let's stop pretending that being good at money means you need to be good at math. Instead, let's listen to our body and our mind.
Spending guilt is something that many people experience when it comes to their money. According to a 2019 survey, consumers say they feel guilty about every one in five purchases they make. They spend around $89 every week that they feel guilty for, which totals $277,680 over their lifetime.
No one needs to carry around that kind of burden. But, for the majority of people, the feeling is inevitable. Truthfully, most of us feel a sense of financial guilt because of a scarcity mindset.
A scarcity mindset is when you are worried and constantly thinking that you might run out of something you need. Therefore, you don’t want to use or spend (even though you might need to).
When it comes to removing the feelings of guilt around spending money, one thing I’ve taught myself is that the way I speak about spending is a significant factor in those feelings of shame. So, I started to reassess how I viewed my habits by doing the following three things:
#1. Acknowledge the real reason I don’t want to buy something
Instead of saying, “I can’t afford this,” I now tell myself, “I don’t want this because it doesn’t align with my current values.” By better understanding my money values, I have become better at evaluating when I’m making a good or bad financial decision. For example, if I’m buying something because it makes me happy or if I choose to spend on an experience that will provide great memories, those things are acceptable and won’t result in feelings of guilt.
#2. Learn to accept others success
When seeing other people making giant financial leaps, earning larger salaries and investing more than me, it can be easy for my mind to tell me that I’m not doing enough. But, in reality, I’m doing all that I can. Comparison can be a helpful tool *if* and only *if* you can find the balance between feeding off that energy of accomplishing something big, rather than letting that success drain you of yours.
#3. Telling myself that I can earn more (eventually)
It’s easy to let our brains convince us that we have hit a wall. They’re powerful, after all. But they aren’t always right. Although I’m a true believer that no one can “manifest” themselves out of debt or poverty, I do think that educating yourself in what you can do to earn more is valuable. Once I allowed myself to see the potential to make money through multiple income streams, I became more excited about earning more than scared and worried I couldn’t achieve those goals. As my favourite Ted Talk says, fake it until you make it!
One of my favourite personal finance professionals, Ramit Sethi, speaks to invisible money scripts in his book, I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
“Invisible scripts are truths so ubiquitous and deeply embedded in society that we don’t even realize they’re guiding our attitudes and behavior. Like water to a fish, they surround us even if we don’t know it.” – Ramit
Some examples he shares include going to university to earn good money, having a traditional family with two kids and a house, and working a 9 to 5 job that you might not love.
So many of us unknowingly deal with money based on how we are raised. Any significant people in your life — whether your parents or another loved one — who taught you about money (whether by talking or learned behaviours) have shaped your spending habits. That means if you grew up middle class or in poverty, how you view and spend money will be directly impacted based on these facts.
Suppose you experienced instability at any point in your financial life, whether you couldn’t afford food or had collections agencies calling you nonstop. In that case, that period will stick with us, whether short or long. In most cases, the best way to get past these feelings of spending guilt is to speak to a financial therapist or counsellor about your money trauma.
For women, money and spending guilt are often highlighted much more often than for people of another sex. Women also put these feelings of guilt on a pedestal for something they refer to in the book, Burnout, as Human Giver Syndrome.
Women, especially mothers, are raised to believe that everyone in their life should be put ahead of them. For that reason, when we finally spend money on the things that we love or need, it can be impossible to avoid feelings of guilt.
Others that experience spending guilt more than others can be:
People who grow up in low-income households who believe they don’t deserve “fun” things because they were never allowed to prioritize non-essentials growing up
The lower-income earning partner in a relationship because it feels like they aren’t contributing equally, such as a stay at home mom
First-generation immigrants whose parents sacrificed everything to provide an ideal life for their children
One thing to remind ourselves of when we’re trying to move past spending guilt is that parts of how we use our money are helping us to shape our future selves. Investing in the things that you love and bring you happiness, like hobbies or experiences, can make you the person you want or hope to be.
Sometimes, spending money can be the one thing you can do to invest in your mental health. Allowing yourself to spend and finally admitting that you deserve things is a complex but necessary thing to learn.
5 quick tips to get over spending guilt
Budget for the things you love, not just essentials
Identify what your priorities are so that you know what you need
Pay yourself first so that the rest is just for fun
Move away from financial experts who lead with shame
Remind yourself that the present matters just as much as the future
Spending guilt is not an easy feeling to break, but by getting to know yourself and your financial habits on a deeper level than just dollar signs, you can eventually provide yourself with the tools you need to spend money safely.
Oh no, you missed the live webinar! But, good news: Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone planning for a future child or family.
Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.
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