Monday, September 19, 2016

My Fear of Money

This past weekend my husband bought himself a watch for $91. It's a good watch. I wasn't mad at him for the purchase. You may remember that for his last birthday I got him a watch, I researched them for days before making my choice. I know the watch he bought is a good one, better, in fact, than the one I got him. It's a $400 watch that he got on sale, combined with coupons, for $91. I'd call that a win.
BUT still, I wandered around the store looking at over priced items trying to ignore the fact he was buying himself something. He asked if I was okay with him buying a watch and I shrugged a I-don't-really-care-do-what-you-want-yes, because I didn't want to tell him no, it was a good deal, but, I so wanted to tell him no and I wasn't sure why.  
Because you always buy yourself nice things? But he buys me nice gifts, too sometimes. Because you spend more on you than you do me? But the less we spend the better so please don't waste money on me!
Then all the way home I quietly pondered how I felt, actually, I tried to figure out how I felt.
Was I mad at him? No.
Was I disappointed in him? Maybe?
Why? Because that money could go towards buying a new car...?
I didn't exactly hear myself complaining about spending money on Red Lobsters shrimp fest two hours earlier.
Then I found it. I found the word that perfectly described how I was feeling. Jealous.
I was jealous because my husband can spend money on himself and I can't spend money on myself.
Not because he won't let me, no, I know he would, but because I won't let myself.
And ever since I've been trying to figure out why.
Because when I was 12 and spent $20 on a BB gun only to first have extreme buyers remorse, I'd wasted money on a toy, and later to have a friend leave it out in a field to be bush hogged over?
 Have I traumatized myself from spending money? Is that even a thing?
I keep thinking about it. I've looked around our house to see what I own. What is the most expensive thing I've ever bought myself?
I bought a laptop in 2012, at $3?? It is by far my biggest purchase. Since then? $64 dollars on two pair of maternity jeans. How on earth did I justify that? Because I was excited to be pregnant and equally tired of squeezing into regular jeans and Wesley was with me and assured me it was okay, an investment, I'd use them several times in the years to come, hopefully.
Since I've been married I haven't even bought myself a pair of new shoes, just used ones from goodwill.
I spent some money on plants and gardening supplies but that was to grow food for my family, that doesn't count, right?
Besides those maternity jeans I literally can't think of anything that I've picked out or purchased for myself that didn't come from a garage sale, out of goodwill or off of a clearance rack at Walmart or Kohls.
This isn't normal, is it?

I'm not writing this post to brag at how low maintenance I am. Trust me. I don't like being this way. I don't like having a twinge of disappointment every time my husband buys himself something. I don't like being moody afterwards and not being able to explain to my husband that no, I'm not mad at him,  I'm just confused.  I don't like feeling irresponsible if I buy two used shirts at goodwill that, God forbid, weren't the half price color of the day. I don't like this.
Whenever I shop I feel a little guilty if I spend even so much as $5 to get myself lunch, if I didn't eat we could save that money, we could pay off the house faster, we could buy a car, put it towards remodeling the kitchen.

Do I love money? The love of money is the root of all evil.
I don't think I love money. I don't want to be rich.
This isn't normal. It can't be. Or do any of you, my readers deal with issues like this? Do you have any in sight on what causes a person to be so afraid of spending money? Is it something lots of us actually go through and I've just never discussed it with anyone?


  1. Dear Haley,

    You are not alone. Not by a long shot. I think there are several factors that combine to create super-frugal, self-denying, future-focused consumers. A sense of financial insecurity, low self-worth, being unused to having more than you absolutely need, or taking the homemaker role in the family can all contribute. Being frugal can certainly be a virtue, one that gives you freedom and relieves you from the stress of debt, but it can also go too far. It’s kind of sad when you can’t enjoy your hard-earned money, and sadder when you can’t enjoy your loved ones’ use of that same money.

    I highly recommend the book, “The Average Family’s Guide to Financial Freedom,” by Bill and Mary Toohey. The Toohey’s explain in detail how they were able to keep up with their expenses, plan for the future of their disabled child, save for a comfortable retirement, live debt-free, donate to worthy causes, AND have fun on a middle-class income. They show how to set up budgets and accounts so that you never have to worry that the fridge will go out, because you’ve already set the money aside in advance. And they recommend that you budget some money for fun every month, too. John and I read this book early in our marriage and it set us on a path to living comfortably within our means for decades (so far). It costs $0.01 on Amazon plus shipping, and it may be the best $4 you ever spend.
    I recently read about a university librarian who was somehow able to save and invest enough to leave a $5 million bequest to his employer. The university promptly spent a million dollars of that gift to buy themselves A NEW SCOREBOARD. Yes, that’s what his scrimping and saving bought. I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing he could have spent that money waaaay better in his lifetime and still had plenty left over.

    Happy reading!

    Laura McDonald

  2. Haley- you are not alone. This past Sunday this was the topic at church, the love of money. I agree with you that I don't have a true desire to be absurdly wealthy, but I think we all have that thought of "oh if I could just have been born into money" or "if I could just come up with that one amazing idea"... Bc like it or not having money makes life easier and it is a reassurance. So to spend that money... It's hard. My husband has recently offered us a trip somewhere, tropical, island-ish, but there are 2 big things making me turn it down (can you believe it I am insane!) First is we would be so far away from our girls and what if God forbid something happened and we couldn't get home or there was a plane crash, I am not ready to write a will giving our kids to anyone else those two are ours alone to screw up! AND secondly... Think of all the other things we could do with that money!!! Things for the house, gymnastics for the girls... On and on!!! I personally feel that another reason I can't easily spend money on myself is because I don't truly earn money. Yes I know I am very valuable at home taking care of the kids, it's the most important job, etc. BUT I don't pay for the bacon I just cook it (and half the time I don't even do that). The longer I live this life though the easier it gets. I just recently found shoes that I loved!!! High heels, gold super sparkly, not the most practical of shoes, but I loved them, they were $20 on sale at kohls, I keep things until there is nothing left, husband "liked" them too... I went to see a movie Sunday Bridget jones' baby with my mom, it was so funny! Life is stressful and going out occasionally or buying something that makes you feel pretty or treating yourself is a healthy thing to do too... I think as long as you have the essentials covered some special things every now and then is nice. It's a balance for sure... I tell myself stuff like ten cups of Starbucks equals one group on massage... It's a struggle, but you are not alone! Much Love - Hannah