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Do You Ever Feel Guilty for Spending Money?

Just before we bought the jeep my husband told me he sometimes feels guilty for spending money. He also told me that he’d spend money more freely if we weren’t married. Some wives might have been taken aback by this fact, but I wasn’t at all surprised by it. In fact, when we were first married I often felt the same way.

When you are single you can spend money on any little whim or desire that might pop into your head. This doesn’t mean that every single person spends money this way, but being single grants you the authority to spend the money you earn in any way you see fit. Your earning power and your goals do not have to be justified or explained and at the end of the day you have no one to answer to but yourself.

Most of our single male friends spend money on all sorts of big ticket items like new cars and pricey vacations. Although I seem to have less and less single female friends they tend to spend money on clothes, purses and shoes. Again this isn’t too say that all non-married individuals spend money and never save, but rather to point out that they can make any and all of these purchases without having to ‘run it by‘ anyone else.

Once you are married the larger monetary decisions of life are no longer based on your own wishes, but rather the desires of both you and your spouse. Now this doesn’t mean that you have to run every single purchase past your husband or wife, but when making larger purchases you definitely have to ask yourself, “is this something that benefits both my spouse and will this purchase prohibit or delay the larger goals of life”.

A lot of married couples my husband and I know do not take the thoughts and feelings of their spouses into consideration when making purchases and many of these couples fight on a rather constant basis about money. In fact a few couples divorced as a result of such money conflicts, but my husband and I always try to think of one another and the larger goals of life before making large purchases.

So my husband initially felt guilty about buying the jeep, because he knows that I would prefer to purchase a more environmentally friendly, fuel efficient vehicle and that I could live out the remainder of my life perfectly happy without one. He knows that we could leave the money in the bank or invest it in the stock market and wait for higher returns. He knows that the purchase will not help us meet our ultimate goal of financial independence, but he also knows that he has wanted a jeep for more than ten years.

If my husband lived alone and wasn’t married he and I both know that he would’ve bought that jeep without a second thought, but being married caused him to think and rethink the purchase just a little bit longer.

In fact, we talked at length about whether to buy an older jeep that would be extremely cheap but might cost a lot in repairs or a newer model that would have less mileage and last us a lot longer. In the end we purchased an older jeep with relatively little mileage in the hopes that it will last awhile and require less repairs.

Funny enough for all of his initial angst and guilt I actually love the jeep. I know that it is a completely impractical new toy, but it is amazingly fun to drive. Most of all I’m glad that we maintain an open dialogue about our finances so that we can discuss such matters, like feeling guilty, and move past them.

One Frugal Girl

Tuesday 12th of May 2009

The comments are interesting. I was thinking of feeling guilty from a spouse's perspective, but it's true we often feel guilty just for buying something we don't really need or for buying something we need but would rather not spend the money on like health related expenses.

@Abigail-- I spend quite a lot of money on health related items like massage therapy, acupuncture, etc. I always feel guilty for spending money on this, because I know it pushes my husband and I further from our goals, but I also know that I don't have much choice in the matter. To not spend the money would mean living in greater pain.

Abigail

Tuesday 12th of May 2009

Constantly! We're in debt but we also have health problems. That means we can't always be as frugal as we might want. So whenever we're too sick and exhausted to cook, I feel practically criminal. It's something I am working on. And working on finding a balance between paying down debt and still enjoying ourselves (minimally) every so often. It's a difficult balancing act. But you have to enjoy some small things every so often -- a meal out for our anniversary -- so that you can stay sane the rest of the time.

And other times, it's completely impossible to avoid (such as my recent post about having to buy new clothes because my old ones are too tight -- hooray depression eating) but you still feel awful and unhappy forking over money.

Amanda

Monday 11th of May 2009

I'm still single and very young (22), but already feel guilty every time I make a purchase, or go out for a meal that's a little expensive. I still need to reconcile saving with allowing myself to indulge a bit.

Tony

Sunday 10th of May 2009

Do you find like me that one of the biggest problems with buying a big budget item (like a car or tv etc) is fighting your conscience.

It's always a battle for me, deciding whether to buy what I WANT or what I actually NEED!

I don't always win, but then my conscience doesn't always either :)