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Money Myth Number 8: "Spending Money Makes Me Feel Good"

Steps for Better Finances Spending - or not

Money Myth Number 8:

If you read my last blog, you’ll know that I’m not always in favour of being frugal.  Not all money is for saving.  I think that  there are more things to consider in life than dollars and cents in the bank.   Spending can provide for our needs and some of our wants, and (if it’s done well) can make us feel connected and generous and wealthy.

Which, let’s face it, are all nice feelings.  But when we merely create the illusion of wealth, either by going into debt to spend, or by leaving ourselves short of cash to fund the things that are really important to us, that’s when good spending goes bad.

Not only are we storing up financial problems and negative emotions for the future (“How could I have been so stupid!”) but the knowledge that we can’t actually afford what we’re buying taints the good feelings that spending can bring.

If you want to spend and get the good feelings without the financial and emotional hangover, try doing these things:

  • Plan what you’re going to buy in advance.  Know you can afford it.  Anticipate the purchase.  Spend. Enjoy!
  • What if you plan what you’re going to buy and find you can’t afford it?  Then ask yourself: “What am I imagining will happen if I buy {whatever it is}?”
  • Now ask: is there a way that you could get what you’re imagining by spending less (or no) money?  You may have to get creative, change a habit or routine, or spend a little time and energy, but there is often a way to get the outcome you are imagining, without having to spend the full amount of money.
  • What if you see something and you JUST HAVE TO HAVE IT RIGHT NOW, OMG, IT’S AWESOME!?  Your brain is high on the newness of whatever it is. Promise yourself you will buy it, after a break.  Leave the shop, take some time, do something else.  Then go back.  Most likely you’ll have a more clear-eyed view of whatever it is – you’ve seen It before.
  • What if you’ve had the worst day ever, you just want to feel better, and spending does that for you?  Take some time on a good day to put a list of three things you could do that would make you feel better, that don’ t cost so much money.  Keep the list in your wallet.  Do those things.
  • Sometimes there is no way to get what you want without spending less.  Now you need to ask yourself, is this purchase one I want to prioritise over ever other way I’ve planned to spend or save my money?

Because it’s seldom what you actually buy that makes you happy.  It’s the outcome; the feelings associated with spending: feeling wealthy, having something new, doing something different, eating delicious food, spending time with friends, enjoying the admiration of others.

Money Truth: It's not the spending that makes you feel good.

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