I Feel Guilty Making Unnecessary Purchases

by Evan

I have this character trait that is probably odd/weird/annoying to those that don’t actually write on their own personal finance blog; I feel literally guilty when I even think about the action of purchasing items I don’t need.  It is almost like buyer’s remorse prior to actually purchasing the item.  But it gets worse, I will plan and plan for the purchase, and then never pull the trigger!  The problem is that I am not sure if it is one of those feelings to even go away, I mean they keep me from being acting on my baser urges to join the “Jonses

Example of feeling Guilty Prior to making a Purchase

I have been been making strides destroying it when it comes to the The Family’s Finances, and most of our gains is from the work I do at night which includes this blog and a few other side ventures, so as a Thank You The Wife gave me “permission” to go pick up a new television.  Even though I am the captain of this financial ship I am not about to buy a four digit item without checking in with The Wife.

Besides, I think this was really a gift for her since she watches more TV than I do; just like the BBQ she got me for my first father’s day which now means I cook more and she doesn’t have to cook/clean the kitchen.

Notwithstanding my cynical feelings, I have now spent probably close to 5 hours researching plasma’s, LEDs and Smart TVs (not 3D TVs since I don’t want one).

Along the way I have put up various barriers:

  • I’ll add to a separate ING account all the cash after I save $2,000 for our next house and once that is enough I’ll buy it
  • I’ll add to an account all the cash after I save $2,000 for our next house, and pay off another 15% of my smaller student loan account
  • I’ll add to an account all the cash after I save $2,000 for our next house, and pay off another 15% of my smaller student loan account and just save $200/month in that separate account until I can afford the TV I want

The last justification is when I started to think why am I putting up all these road blocks? I work my ass off and The Wife gave her blessing on such a large buy why can’t I pull the purchase? and looking deep into the essence of Evan, I think it has to do with waste.

I have a perfectly good television hanging on my wall, why get another one? What will I do with that one? Move it up to the bedroom.  Then what of the bedroom television? It is perfectly good.  I have a problem throwing things away so that will be stored somewhere.

This isn’t just a television “problem” I do it with computers.  I have a great laptop that I actually won a year ago over at CoupleMoney how do I just get rid of it and replace it? What would I do with the one I am using which is perfectly fine for the work I do on it?

The feeling I get is literally one of pure “mom is yelling at you” guilt.  How could I be so wasteful? How could I buy a new TV when that money can be used to increase my savings?

Considering all the non-wealthy people I see joining a $120/month gym by me and buying iPads when they already have a working laptop that they don’t do anything on, I feel like I am one of the only people out there with this internal spending conscious! Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut be happy someone is keeping this spending society well oiled.

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30 comments

Simon September 21, 2011 - 9:27 am

Mrs. SPF gave the OK for a flat screen non-tube TV almost 3 years ago. Thing is, I too could not pull the trigger! Our TV, while massive, works just fine!

Now that we’ve cancelled cable I can’t justify such a purchase at all.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 11:17 am

Yeah we have cable and watch WAY too much TV so it would get used…but I mean our flat panel works and is nicely hanging on our wall.

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Paul Williams September 21, 2011 - 11:45 am

I’m the same way, Evan. I think that it’s good to have these internal resistances on one hand. On the other, too much guilt over purchases isn’t healthy either. It’s at least an indication that something is not quite right in how we view money.

In your case (and mine), I don’t think it’s the reluctance to waste that is a problem. That’s a good value to have and will go a long way for financial success. But there is something wrong with not being able to free yourself to spend money if you want to (assuming you’ve met all other obligations).

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 11:18 am

But when is all other obligations met? I mean my funding of the 529 is atrocious at best…My 401(k) is only contributed to the max of match which means I should be putting more elsewhere besides non-qualified liquid savings!

UGH so much more to do lol

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Paul Williams September 26, 2011 - 11:42 am

Haha, that’s the difficulty – knowing when enough is enough. By obligations, I meant your bills and the minimum you need for reaching your goals.

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LaTisha September 21, 2011 - 12:26 pm

You are not crazy. Well, at least not about this issue. I also have a hard time making purchases when I know that I could save that money and I already have the same item that still works just as well. It has to do with going over the edge of frugality. The best thing to do in this instance is to decide if you want it. I say that because it’s a frivolous reward that you obviously don’t need but the point is to reward yourself. If you think saving will be a better reward and you don’t want the tv, which it seems like that’s the conclusion that you came to, then don’t get the tv.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 11:25 am

True! I am absolutely nutty about other issues lol.

See it is even weirder because I am not frugal as compared to online blogger buddies – I spent $150 in dinners this weekend.

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Jenna September 21, 2011 - 12:56 pm

If a TV is something you really want and can obviously afford. I don’t understand why you are feeling so guilty about it.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 11:29 am

It’s a $1,500 decision when the money is better put somewhere else.

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Kaylen September 29, 2011 - 2:23 pm

I completely understand it – Jena, the guilt comes from using money for a purpose that is less financially beneficial than using the money for another purpose.

For example, I could spend $2k on a new snowblower for my husband this winter, but I would feel way too guilty because at least $1200 of that $2k could be better spent paying off my student loans. If I were to ignore the loans and use all of the $2k for the snowblower, it would be wasteful and excessive considering I have student loans to pay. Even though I can afford the snowblower and am already meeting my minimum payment obligation on my student loans, I know my financial future will be in better shape if I use the $ to pay off my student loans.

Make sense now?

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Ashley September 21, 2011 - 1:02 pm

It sounds to me like you just don’t really want a new TV. That’s fine. I’m with you on not replacing things that are working just fine. Maybe put the money into an account and when you do need a new TV, or something else, it will be there for you to use.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 11:29 am

But I really really do want it! lol

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sealander September 21, 2011 - 4:46 pm

After an earthquake splattered the old TV on the floor, I gave the husband the go-ahead to get a new one. His selection was somewhat larger than I would have chosen, and for a while there I felt vaguely embarrassed at the sheer size of the thing whenever I looked at it. But after some discussion I realised it was a point of pride for him that we had worked and saved the money to be able to buy it. He had no savings and significant debt when we met, and has worked hard at changing this, and the TV is a reminder of how far he has come.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 11:30 am

I think ALL women think their man’s TV is too big LOL!

But that is really cool for your husband. Sounds like a great guy.

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BeatingTheIndex September 21, 2011 - 7:17 pm

It’s OK sometimes to spend on an item that is not an absolute “need”. I as well have many roadblocks when it comes to large purchases. if I need a new TV I will wait until the last week of the year having tracked the price of the item and researched the item for weeks prior to that.

Maybe knowing that I got a good product for a good price lessens the guilt and makes it easier to proceed with buying. Don’t kick yourself wanting to buy a new item especially that it’s only on occasion.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 11:33 am

Maybe you are on to something, but I don’t think I can hold out till December.

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krantcents September 21, 2011 - 8:01 pm

We went through this about 7 years ago. I bought a flat screen and very happy I did. It changed our room and it added to our entertainment.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 1:47 pm

See the problem is I have one! A really nice 42 inch hooked up to surround sound hanging on the wall lol

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Market Maker September 21, 2011 - 7:41 pm

My wife yells at me all the time because my fiscal responsibility makes her fell guilty for making ANY purchase let alone unnecessary purchases. I suppose balance is the best alternative. But, it’s better to stay on the side of caution. Feel guilty and you’ll save more.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 1:27 pm

Unless you get mad then the balance is GREAT.

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Jana September 22, 2011 - 8:16 am

OMG, I totally do the same thing. I get the worst buyer’s remorse for everything and I have the most difficult time justifying most wants (even though I do feel it’s OK to splurge sometimes). I went to buy a bag that I had my eye on. It was $94. I had saved the money and really, really wanted it. But I couldn’t bring myself to buy it knowing that I had perfectly good quality, usable bags at home. My husband tells me it’s Ok but I think my inner Jewish mother guilt gets the best of me sometimes. Or my fiscal responsibility. Depends on the day.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 1:54 pm

Damn mom guilt!

I feel like $94 is ridiculous for a bag, but for some reason women are NUTTY with that stuff.

I once bought The Wife a $600 LV bag, I hated that I made the purchase but she wanted it (and it was a few presents combined)…THING WASN’T EVEN LEATHER!

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Buck September 22, 2011 - 7:05 pm

I was the same. I worked hard and practically spent none of it. Perhaps the joy you have in saving and not being wasteful trumps the joy you could get from the new tv? Saving is great especially since you are the financial captain. I’ve been going for a happy medium these days. You work hard, save hard, you deserve to enjoy some of it, sometime.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 1:56 pm

I do get A LOT of joy when I shift money from the checking to the saving or from the checking to the brokerage account! You might be on to something.

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Blinkin September 23, 2011 - 11:40 am

If you can’t pull the trigger then I see that as you recognizing you don’t really need or want the tv. You’re most likely just looking around for a way to reward yourself for your hardwork, which is perfectly fine; but I’m guessing the tv was just the first thing you saw. I’m not the least bit frugal, but I would hold off on the purchase.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 2:01 pm

I REALLY do want a new tv….but you may have a point…maybe it is too big of a reward?

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Jen September 23, 2011 - 12:07 pm

Whenever I go to buy something that isn’t a ‘need’, I get some weird anxiety thing going on. Really, I actually start sweating too. This has saved me from so many financial screw-ups. Sometimes I end up doing it anyway but most times I back down—even though we can afford it. Weird stuff.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 2:04 pm

Wow like actual sweating? At that point I wouldn’t even put myself through it

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Pam September 25, 2011 - 9:57 am

We as a society want much more than we need. I applaud you in your restraint and in thinking of other areas where the need for saving is greater. If your old TV had died or wasn’t working that would be a different situation. Just to spend all of that money on something that you already have and is working perfectly good doesn’t make sense.

I don’t think your guilt is in the “mom”complex. I feel you are thinking as a responsible adult who has obligations and knows the value of a dollar.

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Evan September 26, 2011 - 2:05 pm

It may be a little bit of both lol, mom complex and understanding my obligations lol

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