I Never Buy Anything for Myself: Why Can’t I Spend Money?

This week was rough. Nothing, in particular, has gone right or wrong. Yet, for some reason, I can’t stop thinking about my financial choices. I can’t stop wondering why I never buy anything for myself.

Why do I pinch pennies and save wherever and whenever I can? Why can’t I spend money on myself?

I used to be proud of my frugality, but something doesn’t feel right about it anymore. It shouldn’t be so hard to part with money. I shouldn’t feel so guilty for buying things I want or enjoy.

Most people can spend money on the things that make them happy. Most people can create a savings jar full of fun money, so why can’t I? Why do I have such a difficult time buying things for myself?

Why Can’t I Spend Money on Myself?

I think my upbringing has a lot to do with it. My mom was a stay-at-home mom for twelve years. I rarely saw her spend money on herself during that time (actually, even after she took on a part-time job). She spent plenty of money on my brother and me but struggled to buy anything she needed or wanted.

When I was in college, I once invited a group of friends back to my parent’s house. A good friend of mine walked into our bathroom and gasped. “What’s this?” she asked, pointing to the mirrored wallpaper. “That’s hideous.”

I never thought about the decor in that bathroom until that very moment. My parents didn’t renovate the house while we were growing up.

The previous owners had chosen that hideous wallpaper in 1977. Twenty-two years later, it continued to stick to my parent’s bathroom walls.

Our house was full of 1970s decor. There was a dark green stove, mirrored wallpaper, wood paneling, and rust-colored shag carpeting.

My mom said she didn’t update the house because she wasn’t earning a paycheck, and my dad didn’t make a ton of money, but it was more than that. She didn’t like to spend money on things for herself. Instead, she chose to spend the money on her husband and children.

I Can’t Spend Money on Myself

i can't spend money on myself

As I grow and age, I realize that I am falling into the same patterns as my mother. I never spend money on myself. If I see something I like unexpectedly; I never treat myself either. I don’t shop often, and I rarely buy things that I want. These days I only buy new items for my husband or children.

My husband doesn’t struggle to spend money the way I do. This summer, he spent over $1000 on landscaping services. A crew of men weeded, edged, mowed, and planted new azaleas for us. When they finished, my husband happily handed them a check.

Later that same month, he paid $1500 to place decking under our house. He also spent $1400 on an ice machine and $2000 on a new set of camera lenses.

When he wants to buy something, he does. He doesn’t spend thirty minutes searching for coupon codes or comparing prices. He pulls out his wallet and types numbers into the online submission forms. Two days later, the boxes arrive from Amazon.

I don’t expect to start spending money at the drop of a hat, but I would like to feel more at ease buying items I want or need. 

I waste so much time worrying about saving money. Clipping coupons and scouting out deals is ridiculously time-consuming. 

I deny myself the joy of spending money on myself. 

I Never Spend Money on Myself

As I reflect on my actions, I am amazed by how closely they mimic my mom’s behavior. My mom always put everyone else’s desires and needs above her own.

I’ve followed in her footsteps, and I’ve been acting this way for as long as I can remember. Becoming a stay-at-home mom has only furthered this unhealthy behavior. Now that I’m not earning a paycheck, I find it even more difficult to spend money on myself.

While my friends and family members focus on the joy of spending, I focus on the comfort of saving money. It helps me overcome stress and financial anxiety. I suppose that peace of mind is worth more to me than whatever it is I’d like to buy.

But I’d still like to pull out my credit card without second-guessing every decision. I’m tired of feeling guilty for wanting something I don’t need.

I Don’t Like Spending Money on Myself

I don’t like spending money on myself. Actually, I hate spending money on myself, but I’m not sure how to get over this hurdle. I’ve been this way for so long that I can’t imagine doing things any differently.

Why is it so hard to spend money on myself? How can I learn to enjoy spending money without feeling bad or guilty about it?

I’d love to hear from my readers. Do any of you struggle to spend money on yourself? Do you find yourself thinking, “I never buy anything for myself?” Do you have advice for me?

Update: It took years for me to spend money on myself without feeling guilty, but eventually I did. Check out my update to this post: How to Spend Money on Yourself Without Feeling Guilty.

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26 thoughts on “I Never Buy Anything for Myself: Why Can’t I Spend Money?”

  1. I never comment on any blogs. However, I didn’t just stumble upon this blog, I actually typed “I never buy anything for myself” on google and came across this one.

    I have been having the same problem. I don’t even know if its a registered psychological problem or not. I had always been proud of my saving skills and frugality. I used to go for shopping with my mother and sister and end up coming home without purchasing a single thing for myself unlike the other two, despite my mother pleading me to buy this and that. Instead I used to haughtily tell them “I can control myself”.
    I keep wishlisting things and scrolling through the online stores. My amazon accountt has 13 separate wishlists with hundreds of items each, but I never buy them.

    It wouldn’t have been a problem, but lately spending even the slightest bit of money money on even things I really need make me feel uneasy.

    I have even started arguing with my parents about the money they spend on useless stuff or make double payments. And that is not even my money.

    This constant frame of mind….a feeling that I might not have enough….that I will buy all this when I have a lot of money, but never reaching there….wishing for so much but never fulfilling those is just too stressful.

    I will partly blame my parents, they used to taunt me about what a bad investment I have been for them, they paid money for the extra coaching classes so that I could pursue medical, but that never happened, I couldn’t be the doctor they wanted me to be. Somehow, I have started feeling that I’m not worthy of money. Self worth is something which I am not acclimatised to.

    I really don’t know how this will end. But it sure is a comfort to know others are going through such issues as well.

    • Hi Ranjini, Welcome to my blog. I’m glad you stumbled upon it today. My best advice is not to be too hard on yourself. I think a lot of our money patterns stem from our childhood. Try your best to realize that you are an incredible human being worthy of great things even if you don’t always feel that way. It’s good to save money. This is an old article and I spent many years saving since this time, but I’ve learned to spend a little too. Try to buy something small for yourself: a cup of coffee, a new book, a new inexpensive piece of jewelry. It doesn’t have to be something big, but find a way to savor your purchase. Appreciate the value of having something new in your hand. The longer I save the more I recognize the value of money not for buying things, but for feeling safe and secure. Try to find value in enjoying nature, going for walks and doing things that don’t even cost money. While it’s good to break the spell of holding on to all of your money it’s also good to see that some of the best things in life are free. Sometimes the things we covet aren’t coveted once we buy them. Try to see the good in the world outside of what your money can buy. I promise you it’s more fulfilling than whatever you think you need.

  2. Came from a poor family and my parents hardly buy things for themselves, I have 5 siblings and from what I saw over the years, they put our needs first before theirs, also their wants. Now that I’m older, both of them stopped working and my brothers and sisters now share for all our expenses, house, food, parents’s allowance. I too think more than 10 times before making a purchase for myself and even ending up not buying at all. It’s a struggle for me to buy something for myself even if I need it. I rarely spend things for myself and always feel guilty after the purchase.

    What I can advise you is to change your mindset about buying things for yourself. Think that it’s ok to buy things for yourself once in a while, think that you always spend money for other people that it’s time to treat yourself.

    Remember, your happiness is as importance as theirs, if you become unhappy, you will grow to hate them because of it.

  3. Like rajinini I also googled I don’t buy things I like, my mother also never buy something for her,but my brother’s are good in spending,they just buy without second thinking. I even struggled to buy food even when I am hungry, I hated myself for being so cheap.i wanted a scent I liked and I didn’t buy it even after 7 years and I still want it.

    Yesterday I read about Neymar asking for 2k crore for a club joining and somewhere deep I felt that I might not need them but if it’s make me happy,isn’t worth it?
    I am not good at advising,but if you are like me I can only say that, you are never going to get things after life, buying things when in financial problems seems so bad, but life is not just about getting by, making yourself happy is your responsibility.

  4. I am the same as Ranjini. I also googled “I never buy anything for myself”. I don’t think it has anything to do with my childhood. My mom spent money on herself and spoiled me and my brothers. I think it’s when I became a single mom of 3 and at one point was jobless. I finally found a decent job. I don’t hesitate to buy my kids whatever they want/need and I spent alot of $$$ when I was in a toxic relationship, but I have to think about that bag for years before buying it. It’s frustrating! I even found a used one on FB marketplace and I still hesitate to buy it. My friend said I have to treat myself once in a awhile. I just can’t convince myself for some reason.


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