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How Do You Feel When You Spend Too Much?

If you're serious about trying to stick to your budget, your day to day spending behavior can be a bit of a rollercoaster.

Emotions are Expected

When you plan and execute your spending well, you feel great. When you reign in your desires and forego spending altogether, you're on top of the world. When you you make a minor mistake, you feel frustrated. When you totally blow it, you grind your teeth.

All of these emotions are a good sign. You feel this way because you care.

Many folks' spending troubles are rooted in complacency or carelessness. If both wise decisions and foolish decisions don't make you feel anything, it's hard to imagine making improvements. You want the good feelings to reinforce good behavior and some level of bad feelings to discourage bad behavior.

Common Feelings from Bad Spending

We've conducted a survey to discover some of the most common emotions that follow poor spending decisions. Here's are some of the responses:

  • "I feel very bad. I cannot sleep."
  • "I feel like I should plan better."
  • "Guilty! I need to save for big, important items. Trying to be frugal isn't easy."
  • "Frustrated!"
  • "I hate it!"
  • "Horribleā€¦ I know I should be saving more than I am spending."
  • "I feel completely overwhelmed."
  • "Sad and upset!"
  • "I feel bad for not providing the best for my family."
  • "Guilty, depressed and a failure"
  • "Anxious"
  • "Nauseated and made at myself"
  • "Stupid"

The Path Forward

As you become a better spender, these feelings will be less frequent. But as you struggle to develop new habits, don't be surprised if foolish spending is followed by a greater sense of frustration. This is actually an important measure of progressā€¦ that you grow in your love for wise spending and that you also grow in your hatred of poor spending.

As you use your spending journal, record more than just the amount and category. Perform self-evaluation. How would you rate your spending decision? Good or poor? How did your spending decisions make you feel at the time of purchase? How did you feel about those decisions later?

Don't be discouraged by feelings of failure. Get back up. Keep on going. Run to win. The journey to become a better spender is a marathon, not a sprint. Celebrate your progress, and look forward to the days ahead with fewer missteps.