How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Spending Money

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As a frugal person, do you ever have trouble parting with your hard-earned money? We can’t blame you if you love seeing your bank balances go up, or if you thrive on staying within your budget.

However, aren’t there times you wish you could actually enjoy spending your money — without feeling guilty? After years of saving and living within your means, that can be hard to do, especially if you’re in a scarcity mindset.

It’s important to step back and focus on the bigger picture. Money is a tool — a means to an end — that we should use to accomplish our goals and enjoy life. While some of the best things in life are free, that doesn’t mean we can’t plan for a thought-out splurge once in a while.

If you want to break free of feeling guilty about spending money, consider these tips to help you develop a healthier mindset.

Relax Your Grip on Your Money

If you watch your balances and expenses like a hawk and check in with your budget every day, you might be focusing too much on the numbers and not enough on what your money is actually doing for you.

For example, let’s say you’re nearing the cap on your grocery budget — but there’s a really great sale on your favorite food at the store. You refuse to buy it, because it will put you over budget for the month. You don’t take into account that you have enough of a buffer in your accounts, and an extra $10 won’t derail your financial situation.

It’s important not to go overboard with frivolous expenses, but there are times when spending the extra money is worth it. Being so uptight about your money and your budget can make for a stressful time if you never allow yourself to spend just a little outside your strict budget. As per our example, purchasing your favorite food should make you feel happy, not guilty!

Put Things in Perspective

You don’t have to do a 180 on your financial beliefs, but it can help to step back and look at the bigger picture. If you’re someone that gets caught in the details (like your net worth, or your expenses), it can help you gain more perspective.

Take a deep breath and realize spending a small amount for a splurge is worth it from time to time. What’s not good is the stress you’re putting on yourself to have a perfect budget every single month.

It’s okay to reward yourself for the progress you’ve made. Since you’re following the Money Guys, we’re sure you’re great at saving. If that’s the case, you have nothing to worry about! Put it in perspective: if you’re on track with your retirement savings, have a healthy emergency fund, and normally stick to a smart budgeting plan, a $10 to $20 splurge is absolutely worth it from time to time.

Take Action to Stop Feeling Guilty About Spending Money

Convinced you need to relax a little when it comes to letting yourself spend? It’s time to take baby steps.

Let’s start with the $10 to $20 splurge idea from the last section. Create a list of things you’ll enjoy spending your money on, and attach a price to it. Remember, you’re more likely to be happy when you spend on things you value, so keep that in mind when creating your list.

When you’re done, order your list of splurges from least to most expensive. This allows you to start off small and work your way up, and it also gives you time to budget for some of the larger ones. Then organize the list by priority. This will help you create a plan to reasonably work your splurges into your budget so you can stop feeling guilty about spending money on things that you enjoy.

You don’t have to stay small, either. When’s the last time you let yourself live a little? We’re talking vacations, a spa day, a trip to see family, a date night, or a play. These are all experiences we can, and should, enjoy.

Budget for It

Again, make splurging and spending without guilt make financial sense — simply plan for it ahead of time!

If you’re a budget-oriented person, have a line-item specifically dedicated to “fun money.” Pick an amount you’re comfortable with spending each month (you can start off small and increase it). Use this to spend on anything your heart desires as long as it’s within the budget, no questions asked.

This should keep you saying “yes” to fun, spontaneous opportunities, instead of shooting everything down because you “can’t afford it.”

You Don’t Have to go Overboard

We’re not recommending you throw caution to the wind and completely abandon your budget. There’s value in using your budget as a tool to help you save and accomplish your financial goals. But it shouldn’t hold you back from getting to enjoy life. Your budget is working to allow for these occasional splurges.

The bottom line is don’t live and die by the numbers. There’s more to life than spreadsheets and budget software. We know how it’s easy to get caught up in saving and working toward financial freedom, but there’s a balance to be achieved in the meantime. You don’t have to sacrifice everything today for early retirement in a few years. After all, you can’t take your money with you. Enjoying a little bit of it now — without guilt — is a good thing.

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How to Forget the Joneses and Embrace Frugality Instead

Embrace Frugality

Have you been quick to dismiss frugality? If you’ve found yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses, it’s easy to think frugality restricts us. We’re conditioned to spend our money on the newest things to hit the market in order to appear “cool.”

(Apple Watch, we’re looking at you.)

We don’t think twice about how it affects our financial future because we’re so focused on the present.

Unfortunately, that often ends in a story of debt, living paycheck to paycheck, or not having enough saved up for retirement. That’s where forgetting about keeping up with the Joneses and embracing frugality instead comes into play.

Put the Focus Back on You

Chances are, your friends are so absorbed in their own lives, they’re not taking the time out of their day to think about how your bank account is doing. They’re not checking in with you to see if you’re maxing out your 401(k). After all, do you?

You’ve probably heard it before, but no one will care about your money — meaning, money in the bank, in your retirement accounts, and what you have invested for your future — as much as you do. In most cases, trying to keep up with your family, friends, and colleagues isn’t going to lead you in the right direction when it comes to being financially responsible.

The first step in fighting the need to keep up with anyone else’s spending is to simply put the focus back on you and your financial situation. Stop caring about what others are doing, and create a list of priorities and goals for yourself.

Your Financial Future Does Matter, Even Now

It’s easy to live in the moment and give into impulse purchases, or to think, “oh well, I get paid next week.” But that’s the wrong way of thinking about things.

You need to start considering how your larger purchases fit into your financial plan. (And if you don’t have a financial plan, now is the time to make one!) This is where that list of priorities and goals factors in. Will buying a $3,000 TV cost you down the road? Does that eventually translate into working for an extra year and delaying retirement?

Start thinking about how your purchases affect your finances, both in the present and the future.

Frugality Probably Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

Frugality is a mindset, and it simply means being financially responsible. It’s not about cutting back all the time, or going crazy clipping coupons (unless, of course, that makes you truly happy and fulfilled). It’s about focusing on what’s important to you and spending intentionally on those things. In that way, frugality allows you to live the life you want to live.

Notice there’s nothing in there that says to deprive yourself. Being a tightwad isn’t the same thing as being miserly. You can absolutely spend your money, but the key is doing it in a way that makes you happy.

Think about where the majority of your money goes. Do you spend on things that make you happy? Or are you spending on things because that’s what’s “socially acceptable?”

For example, do you have a cable subscription so you can keep up with the shows everyone in the office loves to talk about, but don’t actually enjoy watching them? Do you get your hair and nails done every other week to look a certain way, even though you’re perfectly happy doing without? Did you lease a $300 per month vehicle because that’s what everyone in your family does?

Start thinking for yourself and stop following the herd.

Are You Being Wasteful?

Sadly, sometimes keeping up with the Joneses results in a lot of waste. Look around your house. Are there any items you bought just because everyone else did that are now collecting dust?

The fact is, fads change, and they change quite often. Buying into them only creates waste, especially when you’re buying things for extrinsic reasons. If things don’t actually matter to you, or they aren’t valuable in your eyes, then don’t buy them.

Purchasing new things constantly pulls you into a cycle of waste (and sometimes, debt). There will never not be a time where nothing new is being promoted in the media. You need to pull yourself away from the allure and go back to that list of priorities and goals.

Ask yourself if the item you’re considering buying will actually be useful to you. If you don’t think you’ll use it more than once, or will lose interest after a month, hold off on the purchase. There’s no point in bringing more stuff into your house that will just become clutter in a matter of months. That’s the definition of throwing money down the drain.

Embrace Frugality

It’s time to embrace frugality and forget about keeping up with the Joneses — or anyone else, for that matter. It’s time to make a choice: a secure financial future, or a future where your financial freedom is uncertain?

There are far too many individuals stuck in the second situation, being forced to work a few extra years (or never being able to retire), simply because they weren’t financially responsible years ago. Don’t let that be you.

It comes down to this: embracing frugality and intentional and meaningful spending will give you wealth, and keeping up with the Joneses won’t. It’s an easy choice, but a difficult battle. One worth fighting to win.

How to Build and Manage an Emergency Fund

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Imagine this: you’re driving your only vehicle to get to work, and suddenly one of your tires blows out. While inconvenient, you know you can replace one tire. You take your car to the shop, only to learn you need to replace all the tires. (Oh, and you should probably get your brakes done, too.)

Do you have enough cash set aside for small emergencies like this? Or would you put the cost of repairs on your credit card and struggle to pay off the balance before the end of the month?

This particular example may not resonate with you — but the details aren’t as important as the fact that you need to be covered for unexpected expenses like this. You need to know how to build and manage an emergency fund.

What an Emergency Fund Is — and Isn’t

An emergency fund (or emergency savings, or your rainy day fund) consists of cash you put aside you have to cover unplanned expenses and financial emergencies. You can use it to cover something like a flooded basement or to sustain you through a period of unemployment.

Emergency funds are not backup savings to be spent whenever you’ve exhausted your regular budget.

Setting up an emergency fund is imperative, because it’s designed to keep you functioning when an actual emergency strikes. No one wants to deal with that flooded basement, but it’s even more stressful if you’re worried about how you’re going to pay to clean up the mess.

An emergency fund is peace of mind so that you know you can cover the bills, go to work, and take care of your financial obligations without borrowing money or putting expenses on a line of credit.

How Much to Keep in Your Emergency Fund

Don’t let the idea of an emergency fund make you feel overwhelmed. Everyone needs one and anyone can start taking action (even just baby steps) to build a cash cushion.

When creating an emergency fund from scratch, consider how much money you would need if you lost your income temporarily. Your goal should be to save at least one month’s worth of your net pay (which would cover expenses for a month or possibly more if you’re living within or below your means).

If this seems like an impossible sum, remember you can save money in chunks. Start with a small amount and consistently add to your savings each week. Even $10 every Friday adds up over time — and it’s better to have something rather than nothing.

Once you’ve hit your goal of saving up one month’s worth of net pay, set a new goal. Increase your savings goal to 3 to 6 months’ worth of net pay. This will ensure you’re covered if you do happen to run into a major financial emergency, like an unexpected job loss.

Where to Keep Your Emergency Fund

Once you’ve saved up your cash, you need to know where to put it. While you don’t want to use the fund anytime soon, it is important to make sure you have quick access to your money if you need.

When thinking about where to keep your savings, keep in mind three key factors:

  • Liquidity
  • Accessability
  • Low risk

The best places to keep your savings include cash, savings accounts, money market accounts, and high yield savings accounts. All four of these options are liquid, accessible, and low risk. If you have any specific questions, your financial professional can help direct you to the best location for your savings.

It’s not fun to think about what can go wrong, but it’s financially wise to plan for the worst (while expecting the best). Although you may not know exactly what an emergency in your future might look like, you can prepare right now by building an emergency fund. Doing so will help you make financial disasters and unexpected circumstances a little less stressful if they do crop up.

7 Ways to Financially Prepare for a Baby

Financially Preparing for a Baby

Preparing for a baby takes a lot of work and energy — both spent on practical matters and things just for fun. It’s easy to get lost thinking about what colors to paint the nursery, how you’re going to afford to buy everything your baby might need, and trying to brainstorm the perfect list of names.

And of course, there’s the financial changes that come with a growing family. There’s no avoiding the fact that kids cost money — but that doesn’t have to be something new parents panic over.

Whether you’re expecting right now or planning for the future, you can start financially preparing for children. Use these 7 ideas to get you started.

Establish a Baby Savings Fund

Even though you may have a separate emergency fund established, you should consider saving up extra in light of your new addition.

What if your car were to break down, or your roof were to have a leak — along with unexpected expenses for your child? Your emergency fund could get depleted quickly.

It’s a good idea to save extra once you have someone who depends on you and the care you provide. You don’t want to have to worry about whether or not you can afford to fix, replace, or purchase something you didn’t plan on during a time that’s supposed to be happy and positive for  your household.

Adjust Your Budget

With any major life change, you should rebalance your budget. Adding a new family member to the mix is going to increase your expenses, so you’ll need to account for them.

Diapers, formula, daycare, furniture, and clothing are going to be new expenses for you. Write down a list of what you need and what you’ll likely want and estimate how much these new line items will cost.

It’s important to do this as soon as possible.  You might need to cut back in other areas, and that will be easier to do now before you have your hands full with the new addition to the family.

Figure Out Your Income

Will the amount of money you have coming in change once baby is here? Has one of you decided to become a stay at home parent, or will you be taking additional unpaid time off?

Nail down how much you’ll have coming in during and a few months before your baby is born, and don’t forget to check your projected budget against this number.

Also, it’s extremely important you review your employer’s policy on maternity and paternity leave as they all differ. This can greatly influence how much you’ll need to save up.

Knowing how much you have to live off of goes hand in hand with adjusting your budget. If your salary is decreasing, you’ll need to learn to live on less. Saving becomes even more important.

Review Your Spending

If your income and expenses are changing drastically, and you’re finding that money is tight, you might want to think about cutting back on some luxury expenses. These include things like going out to eat, beauty appointments that occur every month, and buying clothes and accessories.

You can also look at cutting cable, exchanging a pricey gym membership for a cheaper one at a smaller organization, or calling service providers to negotiate cheaper rates.

Put the extra money you “find” in your budget toward your list of baby necessities or savings.

Keep Your Baby Purchases in Check

The “fact” that children will cost $245,000 to raise gets thrown around a lot. Children do cost more money, but the total cost is within your control. Children cost as much as you spend on them.

You don’t have to go overboard when buying things for your kids, especially when they’re newborns.

Focus on getting things second-hand, whether they’re hand-me-downs or from garage sales. Babies grow fast! It’s not worth the money you’ll spend to buy them, say, brand new clothing when they’ll grow out of it in a few months.

Review Your Health Insurance Coverage

You’re going to be incurring a decent amount of medical costs throughout a pregnancy if you’re not covered appropriately under your insurance.

Review your health insurance plan and see what it covers, and what it doesn’t. If your spouse has access to another plan through work, check to see if their coverage is better.

This will be helpful when figuring out how much you need to have in your baby savings fund.

Consider Life Insurance and Estate Planning

Do you and your spouse have adequate life insurance coverage? This is an important factor to consider when bringing a child into the world. Life insurance is a necessity when you have others depending on you.

Something happening to you or your spouse means loss of income and loss of help with childcare. Both are equally important. Life insurance will allow your financial situation to remain stable throughout rough times.

Additionally, consider estate planning — yes, even if you’re younger. This will ensure your children are taken care of according to your wishes should something happen.

Otherwise, it’s up to the courts to determine their fate. Don’t let others decide what kind of future your children will have.

Get to Planning!

Hopefully you have more than enough time to create a plan and see if it works for you before your baby arrives. By following these seven tips, you should be in great financial shape when your child is born. The goal is to enjoy parenthood without any major financial issues getting in the way!