Tips for Spending Money if You’re a Saver

I’m a saver. I have a very difficult time spending money and would much prefer to see it pile up in our savings account. My husband likens it to hoarding, and he does have a point. But he’s a spender, so what does he know?

Spending money makes me anxious. When a large (or even a small) purchase comes up, my chest hurts, I feel tense, and I’m not a fan…

My husband, however, is a spender. He buys for quality and doesn’t stress about buying things that we want or need or will make our lives easier.

Through many years of managing our money together, we’ve been able to figure out how to work together to make purchases. When we need to spend money, he patiently explains the benefits, and I ask lots of questions about whether or not we actually need it, will use it, or have somewhere to put it.

So, without further ado, here are ___ tips that have helped the saver in me spend:

Give it time

If I see something that I want or realize that there’s something that we need, I give it time. For some, setting a concrete time limit could work best. Whether it’s 3 days, a week, or a month, doesn’t really matter, as long as you have time to process the purchase and decide whether or not you’re comfortable buying it.

For me, it depends on the purchase. If I’m out and see something that I want but am not comfortable buying right away, I’ll put it down and walk away, and if I’m still thinking about it a few days later, then I’ll buy it or put it in the next month’s budget.

If it’s something bigger, or something that my husband wants to buy for the house or family, then we talk about it until I’m comfortable spending the money. You can check out How to Handle Different Financial Styles in a Marriage to see how we talk through a purchase, but I’ll usually ask a few questions:

  • How much do you think we’ll use this?
  • Will we use it enough to justify the purchase?
  • Is there a cheaper way to accomplish the same goal?
  • Where will we store it? *We have a small house*

Sometimes, I’ll see the value quickly, and we’ll go ahead with the purchase. Other times, as in the case with the grill we just bought, it takes a long time for me to get one board (like a year).

Either way, giving yourself time to process through the purchase can make sure that you’re comfortable with it. If you know you’re going to buy something but aren’t quite ready yet, you can always…

Put it in the budget

A budget gives you permission to spend. As a saver, putting an item in the budget makes it ok to buy. If there’s a purchase that is either too large to use money from the existing budget for or one that you’re feeling a little uneasy about, putting it in the budget gives you the permission you may need.

It does a few different things:

  1. Ensures you have the money for it.
  2. Creates a planned expense.
  3. Gives you permission to spend the money on that specific thing.

Use a sinking fund

A sinking fund is a savings account that you contribute to regularly that is for a specific purpose.

Using a sinking fund for larger purchases means that you put a little money away each month or from each paycheck. After awhile, there will be enough money for the purchase.

The formula is simple:

purchase amount / the number of months until you need the money = amount to set aside per month

A few great sinking fund categories that can help you be more comfortable spending money are:

  • Vacations
  • Clothes
  • Household purchases (vacuum, appliances, furniture, decor, etc)
  • Kid needs (clothes, back to school, toys, etc)

Understand why you need it

Like many things in life, understanding your why can go a long way towards making your feel more comfortable spending money.

Is the purchase:

  • A luxury
  • Intended to make your life easier
  • Necessary
  • Something that will bring you joy

Being comfortable with why you’re buying it, can make spending the money easier. It is totally fine to buy something just because you want it or because it will make your life easier. Knowing why you’re spending the money can go a long way towards making your feel comfortable buying it.

Figure out what you are comfortable spending on

For someone that has trouble spending money, I’m surprisingly comfortable buying burritos and coffee. After many years of analyzing my spending habits, I’ve realized that I’m much more comfortable spending money on consumables-which I think is weird considering that it seems wasteful to spend money on something that goes away as soon as you eat it or drink it.

I really don’t want “stuff”. Even if it’s necessary stuff-like clothes. Part of my stress around spending money on things comes down to how much we’ll use it and where we’ll keep it. We have a fairly small house, and I want to make sure that we’re not buying clutter.

Analyzing what you’re comfortable spending money on can help you spend money on things that you’re comfortable buying, but it will also help you work through purchases that make you uncomfortable because you’ll better understand why it makes you uncomfortable.

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