I always think of September as a second fresh start to the year. With kids heading back to school, there is something in the air that exudes a restart.
After Labor Day is a great time to reflect on the year so far and determine what you still want to accomplish. For anything that has gotten off track, it’s a good time to start anew.
In the spirit of back to school, back to basics, we are running a “What Every Woman Needs To Know About Money” series this month.
To start off, we will cover what every woman needs to know about spending money.
Things Women Should Know About Spending
We all spend money. How you spend your money is mostly up to you, and we will get to spouses and kids spending your money in another post.
So what is so special about how you spend your money? Here are seven things every woman should know about how you spend your money.
1. Know Where You Spend Your Money
I’m not a big fan of budgets. I think tracking a budget is like counting calories. Both are pretty excruciating but necessary when you are starting out on a big, long journey.
Rather than project forward about where you think you should spend your money, I recommend looking backward. Go back through your statements (and tools like Mint and others can help automate this further if you’d like) and determine where you spend most of your money.
Likely a large portion is spent on shelter and groceries, but what comes next? Dining out? Travel? Clothes?
You might even create categories of places you go most frequently and don’t even really know what you buy (for me, this is Amazon and Target).
2. Know How Much You Have to Spend
In addition to knowing where you spend your money, you should also know roughly how much you have to spend. Once you are comfortable that you are earning more than you are spending, know approximately how many “extra” dollars you have in a month.
Maybe it’s $25, or maybe it’s $500. However, knowing how much you have to spend and still spending less than you earn is important.
3. Don’t Feel Guilty About Your Spending
Many women feel extremely guilty about spending money. Please stop feeling guilty.
While this does have a few big caveats, you don’t need to feel guilty about your spending so long as you are earning more than you spend, you know where your money goes, and you know how much you have.
When you tie too many emotions to your spending, this causes stress, which isn’t healthy.
4. Allow Yourself to Splurge on Yourself or to Save for Yourself
You should know by this point in your life if you are a spender or a saver. If you are a saver, allow yourself to splurge on a big purchase every once in a while.
Otherwise, if you are a spender, transfer some money to your vacation fund. This is an amazing feeling if you are used to spending.
5. Know What You Get the Most Joy of Spending Your Money On
Just like whether you are a spender or a saver, every person is different when it comes to deriving joy from spending. Know what brings you the most joy, whether it’s a new pair of shoes, some stand-out earrings, a cute outfit, a new gadget, a sports ticket, or a sweet treat at the grocery store.
This isn’t about how your kids get joy or how your spouse gets joy. It’s about where YOU get joy when you spend your money. Know where this comes from and spend your money there.
6. Spend Money on Experiences Over Things
Just like everyone gets different joy from different spending, it is scientifically proven that everyone gets more joy from experiences over things.
So whether your experience is a concert, a trip, a dinner out, a movie, a theater production, a sports game, or a kayak trip down the river, figure out what experiences bring you joy and try to spend more of your splurge money on those items.
7. Spend Money on Others to Feel Good
One of the best ways to spend your money to bring greater happiness into your life is to spend money on others.
I don’t mean buy your spoiled four-year-old every last Doc McStuffins set she asks for, though spending money on your children for something like a football that you can all play together is a great bet.
What I really mean is to donate your money to a good cause. Setting up automatic monthly donations and giving away money to worthy causes can help you feel good.
The Bottom Line
Taking the time to understand how you are spending your money and adjusting your spending habits can help set you up for better financial health. Stay tuned for more posts about what you should know about money.
What else should every woman know about spending?