It can be difficult to enjoy spending your money when you are actively trying to watch your spending in favor of paying down debt or building up your emergency fund.
Being responsible with your finances can certainly call for important changes in your money habits, and I'll be the first one to admit it's not always fun to be disciplined about finances, especially in the beginning. I'll also be the first one to admit that once you get rid of your debt and have a cushion of cash on hand in case of an emergency, it gets you to a place of true financial freedom because you no longer owe anyone else for the things you have.
But, exercising healthy money habits can have its residual effects. In fact, the act of considering how to spend each dollar can really take the enjoyment out of spending it.
That's why whether you're just getting a handle on your personal finances, actively paying down debt or are debt-free, these five tips will help you to not feel so guilty or fearful when you spend:
1. Budget for it monthly.
This is one of the best ways to enjoy spending your money on “fun stuff” each month. Simply allocate a portion of your income for “fun,” “entertainment” or “non-essentials." You can pick whatever categorization you want.
Even if you don't stick exactly to your budget, having a monthly budget makes you the best handler of your money because it helps you plan your funds responsibly to your fixed expenses first. Then, it allows you to prioritize your spending on other items according to what's most important to you.
You can be responsible and enjoy spending your money at the same time with just a little preparation. So, if you budget $500 for “fun,” then you can have fun spending it guilt-free. You already accounted for it and know you can afford the fun and your expenses.
2. Delay and then have at it.
Then there are some items that are just too expensive to account for in a monthly budget. In this instance, I recommend postponing your purchase until you can really afford it. Contrary to the mainstream that pushes the use of credit for instant gratification, I'm telling you it's way more fun to buy something you can actually afford.
And by all means, use your credit card to get your rewards, but make sure you can pay off your balance in full each month. There is definitely nothing fun or smart about paying 13.9 percent interest on groceries or plane tickets, which is exactly what winds up happening when you spend before you know you actually have the cash to cover it.
Guilt over buying things you can't really afford is easily solved by waiting until you can afford it. It might not be sexy advice, but it's sound advice.
3. Buy experiences.
It's true. Studies have come out more recently that show people who spend their money on experiences rather than on material things are happier. When you buy experiences, you wind up having memories that stay with you forever. You don't have a bunch of "stuff" that gets old and is eventually thrown out.
Psychologically, experiences offer higher value than material goods. So even when you are in a money-conscious mode, you might want to consider prioritizing experiences for guilt-free and satisfying spending.
4. Spend on others.
When you spend your money on other people or for others, it's really hard to feel guilty about that. Enjoying spending your money may come in the form of simply buying your friend a latte from Starbucks, offering to get lunch this time or picking up a gift for your honey just because.
Gifts, charity or random acts of kindness are all ways to spend guilt-free, and a different level of satisfaction comes with generosity. You don't have to have a lot to be generous with what you have.
Whatever stage you're at in your money journey, it's important to enjoy spending your money, even while you're busy being responsible about your finances.
This article was originally published on the author's personal blog.