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Five surprising ways you might be guilty of guilt spending

How do you feel when you spend money? I can often run the full gamut within a day – jubilant if I buy something if I’ve saved up for and I really want, or irritable if I’m paying out for something I’m not really seeing the benefit of (my many house expenses come to mind). But how often do you feel driven by guilt when you spend?

I like to think of myself as a fairly generous person. I enjoy treating my friends and family when I can, I give to charity, and I will always buy someone a drink if they’ve bought one for me. But there are certain cases where I’ve felt driven to spend by guilt.

Here are some things to think about if you’re on the verge of guilt-spending…

Five ways we guilt spend

1. Weddings

You may have read my blog on the costs of being a wedding guest, inspired by the story of the Netmums contributor who was made to feel guilty that her £100 wedding gift was not enough.

Weddings can certainly make you feel guilty. It’s the biggest day in the life of someone you care about and you want to celebrate that. But don’t feel bad if you can't splash out loads on a fancy gift. 

On the other hand, some brides and grooms feel guilty about their guest list, and ended up inviting someone’s partner they barely know, or someone they don’t really speak to anymore. 

2. Babies

Ah yes, babies. For something so small, they sure do cost a lot.

I found myself a bit stuck in a situation recently – an old friend I’ve drifted apart from recently had her second child. We don’t really talk anymore but I contributed to gifts for her first baby. When the quest for money to celebrate her second baby came up I didn’t contribute. Not because I don’t care about the birth of her baby boy, but because we don’t really speak and I didn’t want to feel pressured into it.

Yes, sometimes that’s very hard to do, but only you know what you feel comfortable about with your own money.   


3. Leaving presents

We’ve all been there. The jangling collection tin for someone you haven’t really spoken to at work comes around and you feel obliged to dig deep.

But maybe it’s better to save your money for when someone you work closely with leaves? Plus, as someone who has left companies in the past (haven’t we all?) I always treasure any kind messages in a leaving card more than I do a gift.

4. Charity

Yes, this is a contentious one and I’m absolutely not suggesting you should not donate to charity. Charity is a wonderful and altruistic thing but I believe you should be driven to donate by compassion and desire to help, not guilt. But how often have you got yourself in a conversation with a charity person on the street and ended up feeling guilt-tripped if you don’t give your bank details?

5. Rounds in the pub

Unless you’re with good mates in the pub, don’t get caught into rounds, especially if you’re out with people who want to drink more than you. Often, you’ll find people are relieved if you suggest just buying your own drinks, trust me. They’re the quickest way to stop feeling in control of your own finances when you’re socialising.


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