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Examining Spending Habits: Reasons For Spending More Money

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Everyone probably knows someone who spends too much money, but perhaps you feel you experience the opposite condition: you never spend money, to the point where it harms yourself, your future, your family, your health, or your standard of living. The antidote to “no-spend syndrome” is identifying areas of your life where you can and should spend more money. 

You can spend more money when you are making investments for your future and current state of well-being, including spending more on education, high-quality goods, assets, and spending to solve a real problem in your life. Spending more as a personal investment is not the same as lifestyle inflation or overspending, and the latter two should be avoided.

No-spend syndrome can be properly treated as any other illness (though it it is definitely far less severe than other money syndromes, like overspending) by identifying its symptoms and discussing types of treatment. With a proper plan, you can confidently and healthily spend more money.

Identifying No-Spend Syndrome and Learning to Spend More Money

Before following a plan to healthier spending, make sure you truly experience no-spend syndrome. Having no-spend syndrome is different than not having enough money to buy something or being too lazy to address a problem. Nospend syndrome is being financially able to purchase something needed (without going into debt or straining finances) but choosing to not purchase it anyway, usually after serious consideration. A list of common symptoms are referenced in the table below. (Remember, some of these behaviors can stem from multiple causes, some which are much more serious. If you feel mentally or physically unwell, talk to trusted friends and family and consult a medical professional.)

Symptom NameSymptom Explained
Pick Up, Put DownConstantly picking up a needed, reasonably price item at the store, examining it, thinking about it, researching it online, and then putting it back down and not buying it
Broken and Never FixedHaving an item that is a real problem in your life (such as a broken window or ripped winter coat) that you can’t bring yourself to address because of the cost, or talking a partner out of buying because of the cost
Depriving Affordable PleasuresDenying yourself affordable pleasures (such as lunch with friends once every few weeks) because of the cost

Here are a few examples from a real person about how no-spend syndrome manifested in their life. 

My clothes were getting embarrassingly ratty (even the work ones) and I spent the whole winter without snow boots because I was too cheap to go buy a pair and we got about 50 storms this winter. My ankles got so frozen from sledding that I stopped going. (oh my poor kids).

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My kids complain about having to eat off of chipped dishes and I used a broken measuring cup for 8 months before spending $2 on a new one. It’s just gotten out of control.

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If these examples and symptoms are resonating with you, start combating no-spend syndrome by becoming an intentional spender through a self-investment or personal-maintenance budget.

Create a Self-Investment Budget

A self-investment budget is a budget specifically for purchases to enhance your current or future state of well-being, such as education (formal schooling or informal online classes), higher-quality foods (organic or simply more produce and less processed foods), high-quality clothing (more expensive items that will last you much longer than fast-fashion), higher-quality living accommodations (slightly newer, with a convenience you can afford such as a washer in dryer in the unit), modest rewards or pleasures (a manicure or new t-shirt after completing a goal), fixing issues (similar to the ones described above, such as new snow boots for a cold winter) or even assets (brokerage accounts or real estate, though these should be treated as a separate part of your overall budget; if you’re not currently investing, this is a great place to start!).

Identify Needs

When creating your self-investment budget, start by identifying your needs. Did you just switch jobs and your old work wardrobe isn’t appropriate anymore? Is your vacuum broken, so you sweep the whole house and then get on your hands and knees to pick up bigger debris? Evaluate what you need, research how much it will cost to reasonably replace or obtain the new items, and then add that as a line item to your budget. 

Consider Your Happiness

Next, think about what makes you happy. You can become an intentional spender (read: reasonable, within-your-budget, and confident) by discerning what makes you happy and making spending goals to purchase items or experiences that will add joy to your life. Once you decide what makes you happy (such as trying new foods) and how much it would cost, add a line item to your self-investment budget (such as dining at a new restaurant) at a cadence that makes sense to you.

Ponder Your Future

Finally, ponder on the future. Whether it’s a glass-blowing class, business license, or a formal university course, pick something that will add value to your future life by advancing your personal knowledge or helping you make more money (or both!). Add a line item in your self-investment budget for anything you want to invest in for the future. (Note that these items should be different than future/emergency savings, which should be handled separately in your regular budget. If you’re interested in learning how to create a budget, check out this article.

Follow Your Budget And Evaluate

The most important rule when making any sort of budget is to actually follow it! Start spending money on the making the quality of your life better. Evaluate every few months to adjust as needed.

After assessing whether or not you are spending enough money on your quality of life (checking for no-spend syndrome), you can begin spending more money on education, high-quality goods, assets, and solving real problems in your life by following your self-investment budget. Check out this article to learn more about the psychological tips associated with spending money.

Why Spending More on Quality of Life Matters

If you aren’t used to spending any money outside of the basest of necessities, it can be challenging to understand why spending more money when you are financially able to actually matters. A few reasons spending more money on self-investments is wise are because everyone dies at some point, you are only getting older, money buys you truly valuable resources, and to help you avoid burnout. 

You Can’t Take Your Money With You

Perhaps most obviously, you will die at some point. If you don’t have children or a partner, or anyone whom you intend to leave an inheritance to, there is not any point in continuing to save excessively. Spend money to enjoy the gift of life, now.

Even if your days on Earth are not coming to an end quite yet, you’re getting older every day. What is comfortable now might not be comfortable tomorrow, so take advantage of situations while you can.

Money is a Commodity

Money is a commodity that should be exchanged for time, memories, and quality of living. Having money inherently doesn’t do you any good — it’s money’s buying power that does. Harness money to give you more time, cherished memories, and increased quality of living, rather than letting it pile up in your bedroom drawers or an unused bank account. Always live within your means, but live life fully! 

Prevent Burnout

Spending money on quality of life can also prevent burnout. If you work 50+ hours a week at a well paying job, but never take any time to practice affordable self-care, you will most likely find yourself burning out. Block out time on your calendar to catch up with friends, buy yourself a treat, visit a new place, or read a good book. Use the money you have to recharge your batteries appropriately — it will pay dividends on how you feel.

Through utilizing a self-investment budget and spending money on education, high-quality goods, assets, and spending to solve a real problem in your life, you are able to take advantage of your time to live a more fulfilling life.

Be Aware of Overspending Follies

If you experience no-spend syndrome, you are probably not in danger of overspending. But as you practice more and more intentional spending, be aware of some of the most common ways overspending can creep into your life.

Lifestyle Inflation

Many people overspend due to lifestyle inflation. Lifestyle inflation is the process of spending more and more on your everyday life as your income continues to increase (such as buying a $400,000 house instead of a $300,000 house after getting a raise). Lifestyle inflation can affect many areas of a person’s life, including food, transportation, accommodation, travel, and clothing and appearance.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

Similar to lifestyle inflation, “keeping up with the Joneses” causes many people to overspend excessively for little personal benefit. Keeping up with the Joneses is the process of buying more possessions (such a new Jeep, swimming pool, or designer handbag) because your neighbor did so (the theoretical “Jones” family). Instead of you increased income being the root cause of your overspending, the increased accumulation of your neighbor’s possessions is, regardless of whether or not you actually want the item you purchased.

One of the underlying issues of keeping up with the Joneses is tying self-worth to possessions. Though people who believe their self-worth is strictly correlated to the amount of goods they possess often fall prey to keeping up with the Joneses, this overspending folly can be manifested in other ways as well. It is critical to recognize that your value does not derive from how many or the type of things you own. Again, please reach out to a competent medical professional if you are feeling you don’t matter unless you buy.

Recognizing these common overspending pitfalls will prevent you from experiencing them as you spend more on your quality of life. If you are worried about overspending as you continue to spend more on self-investment, consider implementing one of the following strategies to protect you against excessive buying.

Like a Game of Chess, Keeping Your Spending in Check

Spending should always be done in moderation, just like all things in life (including eating Oreo cookies… sad but true). If you are increasing the amount of money you spend, you can shield yourself agains overspending by gradually increasing the amount of money you expend, setting goals, rewarding yourself non-monetarily, paying with cash, and becoming educated.

Gradually Increase spending

If you’re used to spending absolutely no money on yourself today, don’t book a reservation at a Michelin-star restaurant tomorrow! Gradually increase the amount of money you are expending on self-investment or personal-maintenance over the course of weeks and even months. This will make sure you are increasingly comfortable (and able) to spend more.

Set Spending Goals

In addition to beginning gradually, be sure to set goals for your spending. Write them down in a place where you will regularly see them. If you created a self-investment budget as described above, you should have a tentative idea already of what some of those goals are. If you want to buy a new pair of snow boots, set a goal of when you would like to purchase them by, and how much money you need to set aside each week or month to do so.

Reward Yourself Non-Monetariliy

If the idea of a monetary reward scares you, consider ways you can reward yourself for a job well done without spending any money. Think about visiting friends or family or borrowing a good book or movie from the library. If you do decide to reward yourself occasionally with a purchase, make sure the purchases aren’t increasing in cost every time (such as buying a movie ticket one quarter, then a new handbag, and then a new car).

Pay With Cash

You can also prevent overspending by paying with cash. After establishing your self-investment budget, head to the bank and take out just the amount of money you need to purchase everything in your budget and set that money aside in an envelope. Use it only to address no-spend syndrome and improve your quality of life, but not for anything else.

Get Educated

Finally, become educated! Learn as much as you can about personal finance and financial independence by reading blogs such as this, books, and listening to podcasts. The more you learn about money and healthy habits, the more you can action on your knowledge and avoid overspending.

Conclusion

By understanding if it would be healthy to spend more on yourself and your loved ones, and creating a plan to address your personal needs, you can overcome no-spend syndrome and develop a more balanced relationship with money. You can also enforce various strategies to make sure you don’t swing to the opposite side of the spectrum and begin overspending. 

Climb on, Finbase.

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Bethany

Bethany works in technology when the sun is shining, but when the stars come out, she writes about personal finance, financial independence, and holistic living. She enjoys cooking, playing tennis, skiing, and floral design.
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