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

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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Rafael

Saturday 25th of December 2021

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.

One Frugal Girl

Sunday 2nd of January 2022

Thank you for this comment. It's grown easier to spend on myself over the years. I recently wrote a post about it. You might enjoy reading it.

Tyrone King

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

I recommend buying for yourself the book 'happy money' by Ken Honda =)

One Frugal Girl

Friday 3rd of September 2021

Thank you. I'll check it out!

Ranjini Ghosh

Tuesday 28th of July 2020

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.

One Frugal Girl

Thursday 30th of July 2020

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.

K

Monday 18th of January 2016

I have been brought up around a lot of money. I have seen it spent and seen arguments occur due to money. I have spent money easily, had major anxiety over it and I am currently at a stage where I am finding that I am too attached too saving due to the fear of not having money.

Due to personal circumstances I have found myself in a situation where I did not have my own money (unemployment, I had £0.00 to my name) without someone providing me with a little bit of income.

At first I spent their money easily as it felt like "pocket money" but then I tried to save it as it felt wrong to spend it on myself. First of all, the amount was very very difficult to save, evidently it was going to be spent, even if it was just on food therefore this lead to me believing that I did not have the ability to save which caused server anxiety.

Fast-forward and I found employment, however, I have found that I would buy myself stuff but always the "cheaper option" and even though that sounds sensible on the surface I suppose that it made me feel like I looked awful becasue the items looked shabby and cheap which basically took a toll on my self-esteem and confidence.

Now I have a job where I have been able to save a bit *my target us £100 a month") however, I have sacrificed my own appearance for this (in other words I am damaging my self esteem just to save pieces of paper!!) and now I am tempted to delve into it or spend all of it on my appearance to feel better but I know if I do that I will freak out with the fear that my job could be taken away from me ( = no money) or I will be disappointed in my lack of willpower.

I am trying not to let fear rule my life but I don't want to live in a manner which causes me to rely on others (lets say if I lost my job and had to rely on others to support me) nor do I want to die due to anxiety of pieces of paper.

I hope this wasn't too long, but I needed to speak out as I am unsure where to get advice or feedback on this.

Ultimately, I want to enjoy what I earn. I don't pay bills nor have children so surely I should be able to allow myself to spend it on myself and my relationship?!?

» Certainly Not a Frugal Decision One Frugal Girl

Wednesday 3rd of October 2012

[...] want to thank everyone who commented on last week’s post Struggling to Spend Money on Myself. I’ve taken a lot of time over the past few days to consider my options. I thought long and [...]