It’s Time to Confront Your Spending

Jan 11, 2016 |Scott and Bethany Palmer
Young adult woman looking at a piggy bank

Should you feel guilty if you enjoy spending money? Can you help it if you're generous? Nope!

Spending money is not a bad thing and does not make you a bad person. Some people are simply wired to enjoy spending money more than others. If I-heart-spending is in your DNA, that's not wrong.

Would you feel guilty if you were tall or had curly hair? No. You'd learn how to work with the positive and negative characteristics determined by your DNA. If you love to spend, your "spending DNA" is very similar.

So stop beating yourself up. You don't love money, you just like to spend it. There is a big difference between the two, and there are definite pros to being a spender. Consider the following positive qualities about spenders:

They live in the moment. Spenders view money as a means to an end: not as something to cuddle at night, but as something to spend in the moment to create priceless memories.

They bless others with gifts. Some spenders don't hesitate to grab gifts for friends, family or sometimes even people they barely know. They see this form of spending as a way to tangibly let others know they are thought of and loved.

They give generously. Imagine your favorite charities without the support of people willing to part with their hard-earned cash. A person stuffing money in his or her mattress probably isn't donating to have wells dug to provide clean water to "the least of these."

They seize the moment. Some moments or items only come around once in a lifetime. A spender will seize the opportunity to help kick-start a project, book a flight or buy a jumbo cotton candy to enrich the moment.

But before you get all “carpe diem,” there are also some cons to being a person who loves to spend money. For this reason, you'll need to approach your finances with your DNA in mind if you hope to avoid killing your budget.

Introspection isn't usually fun, but it can be beneficial. Pause to consider the following cons of being a spender, along with a few tips for improvement:

They think about money all the time. Spending, liking, getting — these money-related concepts are never far from their thoughts. But Luke 12:34 reminds us, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Spenders don't need their heart stuck in a new Coach bag.

The love of spending is part of who spenders are, but it does not need to consume their thoughts. In hopes of refocusing, it may help to explore other areas to occupy their mental energy. Consider: memorizing a couple of C.S. Lewis quotes to insert into conversations, finding a challenging volunteer position, or going old school and using your mental energy to list your blessings.

They spend without limits. A spender can put together a mean budget, but if he or she chooses to ignore financial boundaries, spending can rocket out of control and he or she will plunge deep into debt. It's essential that spenders take the time to proactively consider monetary limits for the month and pay attention to any "hot button" categories where spending may be reckless.

How do you know if you're out of control?

a. You ignore your list. You head to the store with a short list and come away with twice as many things.

b. You use a credit card because you know you don't have the money in the bank.

c. You think you have to buy the "latest and greatest" gadget or item on sale. The Amazon Gold Box Deal isn't a "deal" if you don't need it!

Set reasonable limits and then stick to them — as painful as it might be. Allow yourself flexibility in some areas, but assure yourself that not every available purchase is necessary.

They want to be the one who grabs the check. A spender loves treating his or her friends. Small-group members like to go out for lunch after church and a spender likes to buy. Now that you're watching your budget, be honest. Let your friends know you're following a new budget and you'd welcome any tips and tricks they'd like to share.

They dread saving. Although it may not come naturally, saving is important and can actually be fun. A spender needs to change the way he or she thinks about saving: Rather than thinking of it as a restriction, think of saving as a reward.

Try considering saving money as a "Spending Plan." Saving now can be a clever plan for you to have more money to spend later. Start with your money in three categories: future fun expenses (buying that special gift or planning that special vacation); necessary upcoming expenses (rainy days, too); and your distant future expenses (imagine walking the Great Wall of China for your 70th birthday and start saving now).

They hope ignorance is bliss. Spenders need to ask themselves if they are spending blindly. Do they know where their money goes each month? Do they know their own particular spending triggers that derail the budget the most?

Schedule some time this week to take a look at your spending habits. A good start might be to use tools like Pocket Expense Personal Finance or Mvelopes to help you watch your dollars and cents. Ignorance is not bliss, but knowledge can be.

Don't spend another minute feeling rotten because you enjoy spending money — some people are just wired that way. If you want proof that you were born to shop, take our free, online Money Personality Profile. In just 10 to 15 minutes our scientific assessment can identify your Primary and your Secondary Money Personality.

Our website has great information about all five money personalities, and our book dives into their strengths and weaknesses, internal conflict and how your money personality might conflict with that of the other people in your life.

The world needs spenders. And you need a budget safe from destruction. Both are possible.

Scott & Bethany speak internationally and tackle their own money issues in Colorado with their two sons, Cole and Cade. To tackle your money issues, grab a copy of The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the same love and money language.

Copyright Scott and Bethany Palmer 2016. All rights reserved.

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