How to Treat Yourself to Splurges Without Guilt

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on June 1, 2021

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Some people have trouble spending money on themselves. Here's how to indulge without feeling bad about it.

I've always been a diligent saver. Case in point -- I've had an emergency fund since I was a teenager and my only income source was babysitting. And part of the reason I've been able to build savings is that I have a hard time spending money on things that aren't essential.

Now this isn't to say that I haven't traveled or ever bought myself anything nice. But I'm the type of person who tends to feel guilty for buying things that are "wants" more so than "needs." That's problematic, though, because we all deserve a treat every now and then. If you also have a hard time spending money on yourself, here are a couple of tricks you can use to pull off those purchases without any guilt.

1. Automate your savings

A big reason I used to have trouble spending on myself? I'd always think, "Gee, the money I'm about to plunk down could go into my savings account instead, and wouldn't that be the more responsible choice?" But actually, if you automate your savings so that you're meeting your goals, you shouldn't have to feel bad about spending the extra money you have.

In this regard, you have options. If you need to build an emergency fund, you can arrange for a portion of each paycheck to go from your checking account to your savings account off the bat so you're not tempted to spend that cash. If you're all set on emergency savings and want to build retirement savings, you can sign up to have money deducted from your earnings and put into your company's 401(k) plan, or find an IRA with an automatic transfer feature that allows you to do the same.

If you automate your savings so you know you're meeting your monthly goals, you could feel better about spending some of your earnings on yourself.

2. Make room for splurges in your budget

If indulging in the things you enjoy lands you in debt, then they may not be worth buying. But if you can swing those purchases without going into debt, that's a different story.

One way to splurge in a guilt-free fashion is to work those purchases in when you create a budget. Say you like to indulge in a high-end meal once a week from a fancy restaurant in your neighborhood. If you incorporate that expense into your budget (perhaps by cutting back on other things or intentionally keeping certain expenses low), then there's no reason to feel those pangs of guilt when you bite into your filet mignon.

Some people have no trouble spoiling themselves. But if you're not that type, these tricks may make it easier for you to indulge without the side of guilt. Plus, remember that if you work hard, you deserve to reap the benefits of that effort. Life can't only be about paying bills and padding your savings, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you may be able to adopt a more balanced outlook on spending.

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