Is it ok to spend money on yourself?

by Rob Bertman, CFA®, CFP® in Budgeting
March 11, 2022

Is it ok to spend money on yourself?

Remember that time when you decided to spend money on yourself but you felt conflicted, like your money should be going elsewhere?

You probably did one of two things:

  • You bought it but in the end, you couldn’t fully enjoy it.
  • You decided not to buy it, but you’re questioning if it was the right move.

Neither one of these options is a fun one.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it felt ok to spend money on yourself?

Heck yeah!

Let’s work on getting you there.

First we’ll talk about if you should spend money on yourself, why you might feel like you shouldn’t, and how to spend money on yourself without feeling that conflict.

Should you spend money on yourself

The short answer…YES!

You don’t have to live a life of deprivation and sacrifice where all of your money is going to other “more important” things.

The trick is spending money on yourself in a way that you can feel good about.

That “good feeling” comes from knowing that you’re addressing the other places you feel your money should be going, and feeling like you are spending in line with your values and priorities.

Should you spend money on yourself

Otherwise that conflicted feeling will stick and not let you fully enjoy it.

Why do people feel like they shouldn’t spend money on themselves?

The main reasons people have trouble spending money on themselves have to do with their current financial situation, their money mindset, and overall psychology around life and personal finance.

Here are some reasons why you might feel that way.

Negative thoughts about spending money and your self worth.

We’ve all said this to our kids at one point when they ask for a toy, “We can’t afford that.”

Thoughts like that are counterproductive for ourselves and our kids, because it creates a money scarcity mindset, feeling trapped in your current situation and there’s no way out. Instead, frame it as a choice.

We have to make a choice between “x” and “y” and “x” is what we decided to prioritize for our family.

Here are some other negative thoughts that can make us feel conflicted about spending money on ourselves:

  • We can’t afford that.
  • It’s too expensive.
  • I don’t deserve that.
  • People like me shouldn’t have things like that.
  • I deserve it!

Often these are messages we got during our upbringing or through our experiences in early adulthood.

Get rid of those counterproductive scripts in your head.

Work towards getting to the place where you make whatever choice you feel is best for you and your family and feel great about it.

Unclear about your family finances

We all have a fear of the unknown, certainly with money as well.

Many of the clients I work with feel paralyzed and stressed about their spending habits. Often this comes from not fully understanding their financial situation. 

How do I know this?

Well, before we dive into how to improve their finances, we first lay out where they stand today. That alone has been transformational and makes them feel more at ease.

Here are some simple things to get more clear about your financial situation:

  • How much credit card debt do you have and how much is going towards it each month?
  • Do you have an emergency fund built up? If not, how much more do you need in your savings account to get there?
  • Put together your personal balance sheet.
  • How much are you spending in total each month?
  • Simplify your finances. Complexity makes things more difficult.

Don’t worry about doing all of these. Pick the one that you feel would help you the most and start there.

How will you know which one is best?

Think about which one is holding you back from enjoying the money you spend. That’s where you should start.

No clear financial goals and unsure of progress

It’s amazing how the power of progress and momentum work.

Think about what you want to accomplish in the long term, then start by setting some short term financial goals.

It’s all well and good to know where you want to be 10 years from now, but what can you do TODAY to help you get there?

Once you know the direction you’re heading and the first steps, you know where it’s ok to spend money on yourself. 

Not working together as a team

When you work in silos and are unclear what each other are doing or what your overall situation is, spending money can be emotionally challenging.

Is it ok if I spend money on this? What will they think? Am I being irresponsible?

It’s really important to get on the same page with money. Those that do can find more satisfaction with their purchases.

How to spend money on yourself

how to spend money on yourself

What I truly want for you is to spend money on things that bring joy and fulfillment to your life guilt-free.

By the way, you don’t necessarily need to have a restrictive budget or concrete plan to spend your money to make this happen. (Yes, the Family Budget Expert said that.)

Here’s how to spend money on yourself.

Spend money to take care of yourself

Today more than ever, we understand the importance of maintaining good physical and emotional health.

It’s ok to spend money on exercise, healthy food, and to support your mental health. 

Taking good care of yourself will make you stronger in your relationships, your work, your confidence, and your energy.

Personal development and growth

There’s nothing wrong with binge watching and chillaxing (my son’s favorite word – relaxing and chilling out).

But people who continue to learn new things, challenge themselves, and have hobbies are more likely to be happier, more fulfilled and energized.

Add some growth or personal development into your life.

My favorite personal development app is GrowthDay with Brendon Burchard. I use it daily, and it has helped me big time.

GrowthDay - Brendon Burchard - Personal Development
GrowthDay by Brendon Burchard

Think about the skills you need to excel in your career and life, and what hobbies you want to get going on.

Professionally, I’m working on my storytelling and speaking skill set.

Personally, I’m starting piano lessons next month again and plan to learn how to speak Spanish during the summer.

Things like this are exciting and give me something to look forward to and challenge myself.

…and yes, still have time for a little binge watching with my brain turned off 🙂

Supportive relationships

Yes, it’s ok to spend money on coffee, especially if you’re doing it with a friend or mentor.

Supportive relationships are critical to maintain and nurture whether you’re an introvert or extravert.

Make a list of the friends that lift you up, mentors who give you new insights. Carve out time to spend time with your spouse and without the kids to keep your connection strong.

This doesn’t mean getting sloshed with your friends. It’s more about having meaningful experiences and conversations…yes, and having fun.

These experiences and conversations help you work through things floating around in your mind and stay connected to others.

Things you enjoy

Speaking of having fun, remember to spend money on the things you enjoy!

Figure out what you like to do, and do it. Start with those things you look forward to the most.

How do you make room for it? 

Get rid of the things that aren’t enhancing your life. Don’t spend money on products and services that aren’t worth it according to you, not anyone else.

Cover your financial bases

Make sure money is flowing to your financial priorities. This gets rid of the feeling like you have an inability to spend money.

If you’re trying to save money, pay off debt, or invest for the future, figure out how much you want to put there.

Get clear on what to do with extra money that comes your way.

Once you figure it out and enact your plan, it makes it easier to spend because you know you’re making progress on the things you decided to.

By the way, it’s ok to spend more as you make more as long as lifestyle creep doesn’t get out of hand.

Anytime you get a raise, bonus, tax refund, or any other money flowing your way above your normal take home pay, take at least half of it, and add it to what you’re currently putting toward your financial goals. 

What do you do with the other half? Feel free to spend it. As long as you’re keeping it to ½ or less 

Start Journaling

Admittedly, I was skeptical about the benefits of journaling until I noticed what it did for me.

It helped me overcome procrastination, generate my business idea, and help me vent during my most frustrated moments so I could put them behind me and become solution-oriented.

At first, I never knew what to write about or where to start, but once my pen (or the keyboard) started going, I was able to figure out how to solve what was getting in my way.

Use this to figure out why you might not feel ok about spending money on yourself. Work through the money mindsets and experiences that are prohibiting you from enjoying where you spend your money.

Come up with some prompts or questions to get the juices flowing.

Get ok with spending money on yourself

I want you to be able to fully embrace spending money on yourself.

Enjoy that vacation, time out and about with friends, your favorite hobby or interest without having to feel guilty about spending money on yourself.

My philosophy is to not try to do every single thing listed above.

Pick one or two things that resonate and give it a try. It’s better to do something and make progress rather than try to do everything, get overwhelmed, then give up.

I’m here to help you along the way too.

If you want to talk through this with me, schedule a complimentary 30 minute session.

family budget strategy session

Need help finding the extra room to spend money on yourself but not sure where to start?