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How to Spend Money Without Guilt & Still Be Frugal

How to Get Over Spending Guilt

My husband’s income has almost tripled in the last 5 years and I find myself getting more and more comfortable spending here and there. Whether it’s lunch out with the kids or buying a new sweater. Although I know there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of our labor, I also want to cut back a bit, but feel lost how to get back to the basics of frugal living. It’s amazing how we can be so quick to forget. Any practical tips for not getting too comfortable with our spending habits? -a reader

I hesitated answering this question in a blog post, because I know we have many readers who are barely eeking by and even reading a question like this can be really discouraging… you are desperately trying to keep a roof over your head and put food on the table and would love to have the “problem” of having more disposable income.

However, I also know we have many long-time readers who have seen a significant increase in their paychecks in the last few years. Maybe you’re in that camp and you’re struggling to find the balance between between still continuing to be frugal while also giving yourself grace to have breathing room in your budget now that your income has increased.

I get that… so very much.

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As most of you know, the first few years of our marriage we were just scraping by financially. We lived on a beans and rice budget because it was the only way we were going to survive on our meager income without racking up serious debt.

After Jesse graduated and started working full-time, our income increased for awhile, but between a rocky few years of moving to Kansas City for Jesse’s job, having another baby, job loss, and then a three-month period of unemployment, we didn’t make a lot of forward traction in our financial situation.

That was such a hard few years in our life and our marriage. But looking back, I see it was the catalyst for where we are today. It sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in my husband, it gave us enormous amounts of compassion for people who go through job loss and unemployment, and it truly was the inspiration for me to start MoneySavingMom.com.

So yes, while I wouldn’t wish those years or tears or fears upon anyone else, in hindsight, I can see how God used them so mightily in our own lives. And I’m eternally grateful.

Around the same time I started this blog, Jesse got a more stable contract position. Within two years, not only had our income more than tripled, we had built up our emergency fund, and built up our savings account.

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At first, we fully expected that this was just a short season of increased income so we continued to live very frugally — almost too frugally. In fact, we felt rather scared to loosen up the purse strings because we’d grown so used to only spending money on necessities. Spending more than that felt extravagant.

As time went on and our income continued to increase, we realized that we needed to step back and reconsider whether or not we should give ourselves some breathing room in our budget. Being a frugal and wise manager of money doesn’t mean you have to live a miserable existence.

But what does a “wise balance” look like? How much breathing room is okay and how much is “too much”? How much should we save? How much should we give?

These are all questions we tossed around a lot. After many discussions and prayer and seeking wise counsel, the following two questions summarize the types of questions that have helped us determine what priorities we should have financially and how to strike a “healthy balance” between spending, giving, saving, and breathing room in our lives.

1. What matters most to our family?

As Christians, our ultimate goal is to glorify the Lord with our lives. We know that we can’t take any money with us to the grave, so we want to use what we’ve been given to the best of our ability.

In addition, we believe that money is a tool. In the hands of wise stewards, it can be put to good use and make a huge impact. In the hands of those who are unwise, it can be wasted and blown with nothing to show for it.

Not only do we want to use our money to make an impact on this generation, but we also want to use it to make memories as a family. We often think about what is going to matter at the end of our lives.

Hiring help with our business and hiring a cleaning lady affords us the breathing room to have more time together as a family and more energy and brain space to invest in making a difference in others’ lives.

2. What do we want our lives to look like?

One of the important questions Jesse and I started asking a few years ago was: “What do we envision for our family? If we could create the dream scenario for how our family would live and function, what would that look like?”

This line of questions ended up leading us to move from Kansas to Tennessee and to completely re-structure the way we were “doing life” so that we’d have more time to be together as a family, more time to invest in our marriage, and more breathing room in our schedule.

It wasn’t an easy move, but it’s been one of the best decisions we ever made. We look back with so much gratefulness.

When you are not in debt and when you have some breathing room in your budget, it gives you more freedom and ability to structure your life long-term for the health of yourself, the health of your marriage, and the health of your family.

You don’t have to be content with the status quo. You don’t have to stay stuck in a lifestyle that is burning you out. You can choose to make changes that are best for what works for your own family.

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In addition to asking yourself, “What matters most to our family?” and “What do we want our lives to look like?”, I encourage you to consider doing the following:

Get on a Budget

This is so simple and basic, but it’s amazing how many couples aren’t living on a budget. They are just spending whatever they make with no accounting for it.

I cannot encourage you strongly enough: start telling your money where to go. As Dave Ramsey says, “Give every dollar a name.” This is key to your financial success and it will also help you not feel so stressed about your spending.

Why? Because when you decide ahead of time where and how you’re going to spend your money, you don’t have to feel any sort of guilt when you then spend that money — because it’s already been ear-marked for that category.

New to the idea of budgeting? I highly recommend getting a copy of The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Your library should have it.

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Try a Cash Envelope System.

In addition to a budget, a Cash Envelope System will help you stick with your budget.

The beauty of cash is that when the money’s gone, the money’s gone. So you pre-decide how much money to fund a budget category with, you take that money out of the bank and put it in a cash envelope, and then that’s how much you have to spend until the next payday.

Then, when you’re shopping and see a new sweater you’d like to buy, you can check your Clothing envelope. If there’s enough cash in it for the sweater and you don’t have any other more pressing clothing needs to purchase, you are free to buy that sweater — again, without guilt.

If you just can’t even fathom the idea of using a Cash Envelope System right now, check out Mint.com or YouNeedaBudget.com for other alternatives.

Choose a Few Motivational Giving & Savings Goals

Do you have any large ticket items that you really need or want to purchase? Such as a vehicle, furniture, or a remodeling project you’d like to undertake, etc.?

What about a special getaway for you and your spouse or a family vacation? How about a mission project you’d like to fund or a charitable organization you’d like to write a big check to?

Decide as a couple or family on one or two big savings and giving goals and then look at your budget to see how much you could realistically set aside for these each month. Determine a goal and then start tracking your progress each month.

It’s amazing what kind of motivation this can be to help you stick with your budget and stay the course — even when you are tempted to veer off and blow money on something else.

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Give Yourself Some Breathing Room.

As soon as is possible, give yourself some breathing room in your budget. Whether that’s adding a blow category to your cash envelopes, padding your eating out budget a little, or saving up for a yearly vacation.

Life is too short to live like a miser! Decide what your family’s priorities are and then set aside a little money each month toward those.

For instance, a priority for our family is travel. So we’d rather wait to replace furniture or buy new things in order to save up for a few memorable trips each year. We also have become very skilled at finding ways to travel on the cheap thanks to online deals and gift cards earned through Swagbucks — thus allowing us to do even more traveling.

If you have the breathing room, I encourage you to find a few areas to “splurge” on. And by that, I meant to intentionally choose to spend money on something that isn’t a necessity but that accomplishes something of value for your family. Read about 6 Things Our Family Chooses to Splurge On.

What advice and input do the rest of you have for this reader? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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62 Comments

  • Jennifer says:

    Such an encouraging post. Thank you.

  • kelly says:

    We have been in the years of plenty and had to learn how to spend money after so long of scrimping by. The guilt can really kill the fun! We found a good balance & found that we enjoy the experiences of life rather than the stuff. (we call it yard sale fodder)
    We have now re-entered the frugal season due to starting our own business and doing it debt free but we know how to do this so it’s way less painful. (Thank you Dave Ramsey)

  • Elizabeth C says:

    I think for me it’s really important to remember that money is just a tool. I get caught up in being so frugal that it’s too important to me. My husband loves to spend money on fun things and be impulsive and it can really throw me for a loop. We are wise with our money but in the end, it is only money! It’s a tool to help provide both necessities and fun in life.

    • I think you are so right! Money can become an idol- whether you have a lot of it or a little. Sometimes I need to loosen up a bit {I’m the bill payer of the house} and not obsess so much about it, which can be just as bad as someone who is careless and doesn’t care enough about being a good steward.

  • Amanda says:

    In about two years, I’ve gone from the edge of poverty to a whole new situation. It’s been very surreal. To get myself to spend money on fun things, I set up a system where I “earn” money each day by tracking food intake, exercising, and drinking enough water. It has been a huge help with my tendency to avoid anything that isn’t an absolute necessity for survival yet it still feels like a budget since it’s a contained amount.

  • Laura says:

    Thank you for this post! It’s coming to me at a relevant time : ) My husband and I are in a better place financially than when we were first married. We have wiggle room to travel, invest, and give. We have no debt and a 6 month emergency fund; HOWEVER, we still have our mortgage. Me being the super frugal person I am, am tempted to pay it off as quickly as possible, no matter what we’d need to sacrifice. My husband, on the other hand, feels comfortable with Dave Ramsey’s 15 year mortgage plan, which would allows us more money to spend as we like. What are you thoughts on loosening up while still owing on a mortgage? Thank you for all that you do, Crystal. You are a daily inspiration to me!

    • SuzanneH says:

      You should compromise. How about settling on an amount to pay just to principal, above and beyond your regular payment, each month? Or opt to pay off your mortgage in 10 years vs. the 15 year plan? That way both sides “win.”

      • Laura says:

        Thanks Suzanne – that’s a great idea! Compromise is certainly key in marriage. I think the challenging part for me, now that we’re debt free outside of our house, is not wanting to lose that momentum we had when paying off debt & funding our emergency fund. That said, having an agree upon goal (be it a certain amount towards the principal) or agreeing on 10 years – would give me that sense that, yes, we ARE working on it and making a difference. Thanks again! xo

    • annie says:

      I’ve got a husband just like this! My answer depends on your age.

      Our goal is to have the mortgage paid off the same year my husband retires. We started getting serious about our finances in our late 40’s. As a result we have this huge financial bubble trying to get our kids through college debt free, funding our retirement, increased monthly expenses, plus the financial push of a 15-year mortgage. After much heated discussions, we’ve both become comfortable with that long plan.

      If you are much younger, I would suggest paying more money on your mortgage but not all at once. Maybe for 3 months pay an extra $100 on your mortgage. See how that feels. What does that do to your lifestyle? Revisit the topic in 3 months. Maybe a little fire will catch on?

      • Laura says:

        Thanks Annie! I am 28 and my husband is 35, so we have a long ways to go before we retire : ) Your plan sounds great though! We have one son, who is almost 15 months – we had originally talked about paying off the house before he is in school, to free up more money for college savings, travel, etc. It would be a push, but still doable…but as I originally said, my husband is ready to settle down a little bit from all the hustling : ) We are meeting with a Dave Ramsey ELP next week to help us figure out our next steps, so hopefully that will bring some clarity.
        Thanks!

      • mrl says:

        Hi Annie,

        My husband and I are in our mid-40’s and are facing the same things you mentioned: paying off mortgage, getting kids through college debt-free, funding retirement. Ugh! Where did time go? Although the information on MSM is wonderful – it truly is – I often wish Crystal was 10 years older so our ages/life challenges would be more in line with each others – but that’s not going to happen : ) So, that said, Crystal keep doing what you are doing – it’s fabulous. And Annie, if you every want someone to talk these things through with, you can email me at stevelange @ charter.net. It would be nice to have a like-minded sounding board to run these things by.

  • Chelsey says:

    Wow! This article came at the exact moment I needed it! My husband’s income has more than doubled in the last two years, and I recently decided it was time to go back to work after having our third baby. I just accepted an amazing job offer today and we were sitting here thinking of new toys to buy and new projects to start when I scrolled past this article. It’s so easy to get comfortable and stretch to a new, bigger budget. Thank you so much for this article… It feels like it was meant just for us!

  • Cynthia says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve only recently become a more balanced person in this area. I’ve struggled with buying things for myself just about my entire life. I’ve always felt guilty like there was something more important to do with the money. Anything extra for me seemed completely frivolous (although I would buy stuff for others and not bat an eye). Then we got on the Dave Ramsey plan and started to budget our money. The monthly plan included a small amount of personal spending money. Now when I buy something I truly enjoy it. No more feelings of guilt. It’s only been a couple of months and I still mention it to my husband every time I buy something. But I really can’t get over how freeing it is after YEARS of buying things and then being filled with guilt. It really is LIBERATING. And like you said it’s a built in boundary when the money is gone the answer is no; it’s as simple as that.

    • Diana says:

      I was gonna write a new comment, but I felt like yours, Cynthia, very well spoke some of my thoughts on that around guilt!

      I will go out to eat with my husband to McDonalds even, and we’ll spend $12 and then the guilt clauses come out the entire time. IT RUINS OUR EXPERIENCE EVERY TIME! BAH!

      Crystal, thanks for your thoughts – and particularly your first paragraph. I don’t know that I would’ve continued reading if I hadn’t read those words. I think your post overall left me with a sense of hope that my situation can and will improve but that a lot of that relies on me getting back on budget-track. Thanks, thanks.

      • Lana says:

        I used to feel that way about eating out, too. Now we get that money in cash every month and my husband has it in his wallet. I don’t actually see it or pay and I enjoy our time out so much more. My job is finding coupons and restaurant deals to make the money go further. We put what is left into another envelope at the end of the month and that goes to pay for something like a weekend getaway once we have a good amount built up.

  • Gabriela says:

    Thanks for reminding me to get back on the budget. We did Dave Ramsey class last year through our church and it was so great. But after giving birth to our first baby we kind of got off the budgeting. I started a little again this year but then stopped. I know it will make my husband very happy to get back into it. I will start again. Thank you. Dave Ramsey system it’s really great.

  • Julie says:

    Crystal,
    Did you know that Dave Ramsey launched a new FREE budgeting software this week that syncs to phones? It’s EveryDollar.com.

    • Cara says:

      Julie,

      My husband and I just started using this yesterday! It’s super user friendly and works great. Thanks for mentioning on here!

      • Just posted about it! I’d heard about it over the weekend and had meant to check it out… and your comment motivated me to do just that. My husband has been checking it out this morning and is super impressed with it!

        • Julie says:

          Awesome! We’ve been using YNAB and love it, but plan to check this out, too. Not sure I want to pay for the “plus” option, but I’m so glad there’s a free part. This has been needed for a long time!

  • Dawn says:

    I recently spent $175 for a few pieces of clothing for myself. I am a severe bargain shopper and don’t buy much for myself, but I have several special events coming up (weddings, college graduation, etc.). I just happened to find a little boutique while looking for something else. The clothes are perfect, BEAUTIFUL and look great on me. I considered taking one item back because it cost $60 (gasp!) and told my husband my thought. Just keep it, he said.

    • L says:

      I also buy very little for myself (like almost never) but I agree with your husband! I am not a shopper! My nephew got married last year and I needed a dress since I haven’t owned a dress in ten years. I spent weeks trying to find something that I looked good in. The dress itself was inexpensive (probably $25 after discounts). The dress was a little more fitted and needed that “keep everything together” under garment which was close to $50 (gasp!) But without it, the dress didn’t look as good. I will have several occasions to wear the dress again so if you feel beautiful in your purchase, KEEP IT!

  • Crystal says:

    awesome article! I’m not quite to that place yet but what great advice.

  • Katie says:

    I love this. Life is about creating your own experiences, not materialistic things. and those experiences don’t have be necessarily expensive…hiking, camping, going to the beach or lake, national parks, picnics, watching the sun set or reading a great book. and doing it with those you love most. It’s meaningful and purposeful to find what I value most & follow that path with those I love. I don’t have it all money wise, but I have family, health and happiness and that to me is priceless.

    good on you for hiring a cleaner to help out as you both seem to have very busy schedules! god bless.

  • Carol says:

    My husband and I have a family budget we follow, and we have included some FUN money into that budget. That money is our families to agree to splurge and take a fun weekend adventure, like the science center, zoo, or hockey game. Then we have an allowance for the kids to learn to budget money, and an allowance for Myself and MY Husband. This small amount is our total free of guilt personal spending money. I’m a saver and my allowance gets stashed away for that unexpected something I find, or treating the kids to lunch surprise. My husband is a spender, his allowance is spent of soda, magazines and things that are quick weekly purchases. Our one agreement is that THAT money is our own and the other can’t tell us how to spend it. No guilt, no criticism, no nit picking! It has helped us stay on the bigger budget and family goals. Kind of like a stress release valve!

  • Crystal, this might be one of your best financial articles yet. It is so well written and thought provoking while being very open, real, and encouraging.

    My husband and I JUST talked about this very thing on Monday evening because we only owe a tiny amount more in debt and our budget finally has a little wiggle room. We want to be wise stewards.

    Thank you for sharing your insight!

  • Lee says:

    Sometimes I have a hard time answering #2. What do we want our lives to look like? And it is easier to think about what I don’t want — which includes accumulating stuff I don’t need/won’t use.
    Right now the most important thing for us is getting outside daily. That’s it. And it is free. 🙂
    ~Lee

  • Lana says:

    We paid off our house in May, 2014. Suddenly we knew we would have an extra chunk of money and quite a bit since we had been paying hundreds over our regular mortgage amount. Before we even had a single month with all of that extra money we more than doubled what we were saving for retirement and starting putting a large chunk of money into savings every month. The savings were for specific goals such as replacing vehicles and large home improvements.

    I would sit down and look at your budget and really look at your retirement savings and whether you are fully funded for an emergency such as unemployment. Taking those savings out of your pay first every month and than budgeting what is left is a good plan. We also give quite a lot to charity every month and that has always been a blessing. It is okay to have money to spend after real goals such as retirement savings are met. We have money for eating out, clothing and vacations but they are a part of our regular budget so we do not have any need to feel guilty about those expenditures since they are reasonable amounts and when we have spent the money for the month it is gone.

    I have watched my brother’s income increase many times over the last 18 months. I am happy for him but he has become a ‘big spender’ and not in a good way. Just the fact that you are concerned about handling your increase wisely says that you will do well with it over the long haul.

  • kariane says:

    Yes! Money allocation, like time allocation and so many other things, is a matter of priorities. Once the necessities are covered (those are definitely most important), each family needs (gets?!!?!) to decide what comes next on the importance scale.

  • Nancy says:

    Great thoughts. Isn’t it so true that sometimes we can see God’s presence more clearly when we look back.

  • annie says:

    Growing up my family”s mantra was, “everyone’s broke only at different levels”. I took that in as truth and lived by it. Living life this way was too hard.

    Eventually my husband and I attended Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. This is the “why”, not necessarily the “how”. Our personal finances became intentional. (I think that’s why I love Crystal’s blog so much because her voice sings intentional living). We believed in the class so much that we became coordinators and watched couples from every income level being transformed.

    However, after reaching a few goals due to increased income, I wanted to maintain a scorched earth lifestyle and my husband wanted to live a little bit. We had too many heated discussions about this topic because we were both stubborn. Being intense about our finances for too long coupled with a few intense parenting experiences eventually affected my health. Our savings disappeared quickly as a result. For too long I lived the opposite of 1 Timothy 6:17-18:: “Do not be arrogant or put your hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

    Making adjustments in how we think about money wasn’t easy. I’ve lightened up a bit – and discovered how our lives became more rich – and my husband honors my need for a monthly budget meeting.

    Crystal does such a beautiful job of explaining her advice. I agree with everything. If you read her posts carefully, you will see just how frugal she still is.

  • Meagan says:

    Each time my husband or I get a pay increase, we automatically save at least half of that increase. By paying ourselves first, we have avoided “lifestyle creep” because that extra money is never in our hands. We’ve done this from day 1 in our marriage and it has served us very well over the past 13 years.

  • Rebecca says:

    God is so good! I’ve been thinking that same thought for the past couple of days. We have been where we were in survival mode and now our income has increased. We have made a budget but I still have those feelings of spending it all and not having anything to show for it. I guess I just don’t want to go back to survival mode so I am still scared to spend it.

    I thank God that He used you as a tool to let me know to relax a little and enjoy life, but still be responsible at the same time.

  • Pamela says:

    Thank you so much for this post! This situation is I a reality for me, and it is weird that it is so hard to change from scrimping by to making more money. Even that makes me feel guilty. I’m going to print this out to go over it with my husband so we can see what we want to change!

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I’ve wanted to ask you the same question myself!

    I’m encouraged to see that we are following many of your recommendations already. YouNeedABudget has been fabulous for us in our financial journey.

    We were blessed a couple of years ago to pay off our starter home, then save toward a downpayment on our second, larger home. We’re living in that home now and loving it! When our first house sale closes in a couple of weeks, we have great plans for that money, including using about half of it to reduce what we owe on this house.

    I am so thankful God put you “in my life” the past several years, Crystal, as what I have learned here has enabled us as a family to be such better stewards of the much we have been given (and even if our income had not increased in recent years, we are Americans who are blessed. with. much!)

  • Leslie says:

    Perfect timing, as always, Crystal. Love your openness and your continued encouragement, even as the seasons of life change.

    GREAT post!

  • Alyson D says:

    Crystal, I am so grateful that you had the courage to write this blog post. I have been struggling with this exact issue (I had to fight the urge to use quotes around the word issue!) over the past year. When my husband started making a higher, more reliable income, I first didn’t change anything at all for probably a year because I didn’t know how long it would last. Now about two years later, I’ve done a few things (like up my grocery budget!!!) and we allow ourselves a bit more flexibility in our budget. One thing that has helped me not go crazy and spend too much: I transfer the “extra” money to our separate high interest savings account where it’s not easily accessible as soon as I’ve tithed each month. Out of sight, out of mind! 🙂 Thanks again for the great post.

  • Amanda B says:

    My husband and I have truly been through the worst struggle of our lives the last couple of years with him being out of a job and not able to find a new one, and now some new health problems, we are barely living paycheck to paycheck with my job. While I do find this post discouraging and heartbreaking on some level, I do find it inspirational and gives me hope that one day too, we’ll get past this point in our lives and be able to live comfortably again. Thanks for the post and for continuing to inspire me to live a more intentional life!

  • M. says:

    This can be a hard one. It’s tempting to increase your spending as your income increases. Some people get caught up in making sure they “look” like they make as much as they do so they buy a bigger house and a luxury car. I feel no need to get a new car until my 10 yr. old car breaks down. As a one income family with 2 children in a private school, things can get tight but I focus on doing things that make me happy. I stress over money spent eating out and will never in my life spend $300 on a designer bag but I have no problem taking a 2-3 vacations each year because I’m making memories with my family! Tighten the budget on things that have no lasting value and splurge on things that will make you happy!

  • Sarah says:

    My thoughts on this topic are about whether you are being a wise steward. Are you out of debt (or working on it) and do you have an emergency fund? Are you putting away adequate amounts for retirement?
    Are you managing your tax liability in a way that makes sense for you family?
    Are you buying good quality sweaters that will last you a few years? Are you caring for them so they’ll look good (i.e. following washing and detergent recommendations)?
    Are you creating memories with your children when you go out to lunch?
    Are you generous in your giving?

    Recognizing your priorities are important. Budget for those priorities.

  • jess says:

    I’ve often thought it, but I’ve never actually said it….but today seemed like the perfect time to say that you are one of my favorite voices on the internet. Keep being you and keep shining Christ’s love. You’re doing a wonderful job.

  • Delorise says:

    I am a firm believer in 1st a budget- I can’t imagine life without it. 2nd is the envelope system- it really helps keep track of your money and spending. You can be a smart spender and still enjoy some luxuries that higher income can provide. 3rd is saving—if you are fortunate to have excess income – 8 month to 1 year emergency fund and start saving for retirement. 4th is following the advice from both, Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman–they both have so much money wisdom. I think it is extremely important to enjoy life but always, always be prepared for the future.

  • WilliamB says:

    Dear Reader;

    How well I know this one. It’s weird to get used to spending again, isn’t it? and it can be hard to figure out a new “right level” of spending. Here are some things that worked for me:
    1. Most important, decide what you *want* to spend money one and what you don’t. For me, I want to spend money on books, quality goods that will last, and smoothing out the hard things that make achieving my goals harder. So I buy books – after I check it out of the library to see if I like it. I buy furniture that should last decades rather than years, and mentally amortize the cost over decades. I buy crushed garlic rather than whole, because the hassle of cleaning up the sticky juice was getting in the way of my doing the cooking I want to do.

    2. Decide what you *don’t* want to spend money on. For me, it’s impulse buys, lunch at work, coffee shop drinks. If I see something I want to buy, I wait a few days – or a few months sometimes – to see if I still want it. (Then I research the hell out of it for quality, price, and good deals.)

    3. Keep on budgeting, or whatever it is that worked for you in the lean years. Maybe you want to increase the amounts – taking into account what you do and don’t want to spend money on.

    4. If you haven’t already, set some bigger goals. Retirement. Paying off the mortgage early. A big trip. Whatever it is, incorporate saving for it into your budget. Maybe set up auto-deduct to make saving for the goals automatic.

    5. If you haven’t already, prioritize your emergency fund, life happens fund, and cost-efficient retirement savings (frex, max out any savings that get matched by someone else).

  • Me says:

    I do understand being discouraged by knowing that some people “worry” about how to send their extra money. My boss was recently saying (in a complaining way) that they like to save money for vacations but they decided they should have a bathroom remodel since it would increase their home value (they plan to sell in the future). Of course it’s hard to hear when I would love to have cash to spend on such things but I also have to remember that they’ve always worked hard and spent tightly (sure it also helps that he has a high paying job).

    I think it’s also important to realize that our life choices (ex. Staying home with kids x working) might leave some with less to spend but it’s all about what matters to each family and everyone has different priorities. This relates to some of the answers on the post about how a mom might envy a couple posting about their trips when all they wish for was to have a baby but can’t. With that being said, there’s still many of us who face unforeseeable circumstances that can change our whole financial outcome so I’m in no way saying there’s always a choice for everyone (I’ve had LOTS happened being married to an alcoholic so I get it).

    Crystal, it is so amazing how your posts get better and better and I feel like you appeal and encourage such a broad audience. There’s always good advice here no matter what your financial situation is. I’ve said this before, your site has helped me immensely thru the though times!

  • Kelly says:

    Have you read Dave Ramsey’s new Legacy book? I read part of it a few months ago at the bookstore, and it talks about this topic.

    I have to be honest, I haven’t always loved Dave Ramsey, because I haven’t liked how he puts giving at the end of his steps. It just has philosophically seemed wrong to me to take care of yourself before giving generously. (I think it’s possible he does encourage tithing the whole time – I haven’t looked into it that closely. I’ve just always had this slight anti-Dave-Ramsey bent, for some reason.)

    But, my feelings changed after reading parts of the Legacy book. I think he has some great stuff to say about how we spend money, especially once out of “survival mode.”

  • Brittany says:

    Great article! One thing that we did when we had some breathing room is make sure we were intentional to invest in our marriage. Whether a get away or some date nights, it helped me to view it as an investment not a extra cost, a deposit to our life instead of a withdrawal of money. Perspective and the right motive in budgeting is so helpful!

  • Tzipora says:

    Regarding your hesitations to blog about this, know that this actually gives me hope, even though we are in a tough financial spot, reading this gives me strength and inspiration to continue frugaling – please Gd one day we will also be able to have those decisions to make !

  • Vanessa K says:

    This post is very encouraging! My husband and I took a huge leap of faith when I left the military (it was good pay and great benefits) and decided to move so my husband can pursue seminary so we can go in the ministry. We knew that by doing this, we were going to have to be very frugal with our budget and we are so thankful that Dave Ramsey came into our lives! We had no idea who he was until a friend introduced us, we bought his FPU program and were hooked. We were so encouraged that we can do this even on our tighter budget and haven’t looked back.
    I am a homemaker now (my dream job) and my husband is working so we can save up for seminary. We are using the cash envelope system and praying that we will be debt free by the end of next year. It’s hard when we look around and see so many of our friends getting new cars and buying houses and going on expensive vacations when we are happy to go out to eat once a month, but we know that “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else” is a huge part of it! We know that this stage of penny pinching will pay off when we are finally debt free and we can start building up our 3-6 month emergency fund. I’m so thankful that we are learning this early in our marriage instead of later!
    God is Good and we know that no matter what he will always provide our needs. We also have many wants and we don’t take that for granted!

  • It seems like the more we have, the more responsibilities we have. The first year my hubbies income increased, we had a bang up Christmas and an awesome summer vacation. Somehow, we’ve settled in to the paycheck and there isn’t much left at the end of the month. We are living like we did before the raise with the exception of a huge car payment. Can’t wait for that to be paid off!!!

  • Jen says:

    I loved this post. We paid off our mortgage this month. I’m a yoga fanatic and last month for my birthday my husband bought be two pairs of lululemon yoga pants and a jacket (for a total of $300). I refused to even try them on, threw a fit, and headed straight to the store to return them. We had just booked a Hawaii vacation to celebrate being 100 percent debt free and I have some big purchases I’d like to make in the next year (newer car, piano) and I freaked out over expensive yoga pants. Well, I feel super bad now. It’s just money and we’ve worked hard to get to this point. I hurt my husband’s feelings and I’m starting to think those yoga pants (that were REALLY cute) would have been really nice!

  • Brandy McDonald says:

    I completely missed this post when it came out and it just got posted to Facebook when I’m really needing it. My husband recently got a new job with a substantial salary bump and we agreed that, rather than just putting even more into savings (we already save a lot), we need to finally create some budget spaces where we can spend as we can each spend as we like. I’ve been struggling with feeling guilty about this, so this was a refreshing read. Thank you!

  • Andrea says:

    We are missionaries in south Asia and let me tell you, the guilt when you’re spending essentially other people’s generosity can be overwhelming if you let it be. Yet we live in an extremely trying environment and if we never spent money on anything we’d quickly burn out and have to return home… Which would be a waste of the resources people have given over the last 6 plus years. Finding that balance when it comes to good stewardship of money will never be simple.

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