Why You Shouldn't Stress Too Much About Spending Money
It's funny how consumer spending habits differ from person to person. Some people spend freely, yet others are tight with a dollar and only spend when absolutely necessary. (See also: Find Your Hidden Spending Habits and Save)
For those in the latter group, spending money may invoke negative feelings, such as guilt or anxiety.
Perhaps your parents drilled into your head the dangers of overspending, or emphasized the importance of frugality and saving every penny. Or maybe you've experienced economic hardships in the past, and now avoid spending as a way to avoid repeating history.
Financial sensibility might benefit your bank account, but being overly preoccupied with money and spending can have a negative impact on your health. In a 2007 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, "73% of the respondents cited money as a significant source of stress in their lives." Additionally, the APA's Stress in America Report cited financial worry as a common cause of stress.
Stress might seem like a harmless response to everyday life, but when it's chronic or long-term, you could face a variety of health problems, such as heart disease, digestive issues, sleep problems, and depression. (See also: Your Debt Is Killing You)
It's smart to keep close watch of where your money goes; but given the potential health risks of stress, here are a few reasons why you shouldn't stress too much about spending money.
1. You're Buying Stuff That You Actually Need
As much as you may hate going into your pocket, spending money is the only way to get the things you need, as well as take care of personal obligations.
If you're like some people, you may not have a problem spending money on fixed expenses, such as your mortgage, utilities, and loan payments. But when it comes to variable expenses or non-essential spending, you freak out.
Granted, some people take spending to the extreme, buying a bunch of stuff that they don't need, nor can afford. This type of spending can impact whether they're able to handle all financial responsibilities, which certainly creates a stressful situation.
But if this doesn't apply to you, and you're spending money on things that you need — give yourself a break. Worrying about spending isn't going to add to your life or undo the fact that you have to make a particular purchase.
There is always going to be something that you need, whether it's shoes, a new jacket, an auto repair, or stuff for the house. Spending is a part of life, and if you're spending wisely, you shouldn't stress over it.
2. It's OK to Spoil Yourself
Why shouldn't you enjoy the fruits of your labor? If saving is a priority, you're able to build a sizable financial cushion and better prepare for your retirement years. But there is no rule that says you have to devote every extra cent to your future.
If you have a solid savings plan in place, treating yourself to a spa day, going on a mini-shopping spree, or taking a vacation isn't the kiss of death. Likewise, if your personal finances are in pretty good shape — meaning you have a three- to six-month cash reserve in the bank, a manageable level of debt, and consistent income, you can likely afford many of the purchases you make.
It's all about a balanced view and moderation — save a lot, spend a little, and don't stress out over it. (See also: Little Luxuries That Go a Long Way)
3. Retail Therapy Can Work
Whether you're struggling with a breakup or you had a bad day at work, heading to the mall and buying a new pair of shoes might put a smile on your face.
But retail therapy, which is shopping to make oneself feel happier, has received a bad rap over the years, often being linked with filling a void. And if you've ever hit the mall to cure sadness, you may have later stressed about so-called "irresponsible spending."
Don't be too hard on yourself. Retail therapy works.
Researchers from the University of Michigan conducted three experiments to determine whether shopping "restored a sense of control in people to counter feelings of sadness." According to the findings, "shopping was up to 40 times more effective at giving people a sense of control, and they were three times less sad compared to those who only browsed."
These findings echoed those of previous studies, which found that "shoppers enjoy positive feelings when reflecting on their most recent purchase, when that shopping had been motivated by a desire to repair mood," reports the Daily Mail.
This doesn't mean that you should give your credit card a beating every time you're feeling blue, but there's no harm in the occasional pick me up. (See also: The Benefits of Shopping)
"In small, manageable doses [retail therapy] can soothe the soul. Shopping isn't a problem when it's done in moderation, just like moderate use of alcohol," explains San Francisco therapist Peggy Wynne
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