Updated on 08.01.14

The Battle Between the Stuff I Want and the Guilt I’m Left With

Trent Hamm

kartLast month, I was sorely tempted to pick up Mario Kart Wii. Mario Kart has been my favorite video game series of all – I played it for hours and hours with my friends in high school on the Super Nintendo, then burnt countless hours in the college dorms playing it on an N64. Even as recently as last Christmas, I stayed up most of the night playing Mario Kart DS wirelessly against my wife’s family at their Christmas celebration (one person had a cartridge and several of us had DS units – that’s all we needed).

I made an agreement with myself that if I hit a number of very high personal finance thresholds by the end of May, I’d get the game – otherwise, I’d just skip it. I already had Wii Fit preordered (from a Christmas gift certificate) after all, so I didn’t particularly need a new game.

Well, I hit those goals on about May 4, so I went ahead and picked up Mario Kart Wii. I got home, opened the box…

And I felt guilty.

You should have saved that money, my mind told me. Why didn’t you just snowflake it instead? Why not play another game you have? Why not do something else entirely?

I played Mario Kart Wii for a while and even quite enjoyed it, but at the end of each session, that same guilty feeling came back. I spent money on something I didn’t need and, in the end, something that I no longer feel like I deeply wanted.

You could have snowflaked that $50.

You could have used that cash to buy an LED bulb.

You could have invested that cash to save for the dream house.

You could have put it in the new car fund.

You let yourself down.

These are the things that my conscience was telling me, right or wrong. Instead of seeing Mario Kart Wii as some sort of reward or symbol of my success, I instead saw it as a symbol of my failure.

There are many of you who will respond and say that I’m being unfairly hard on myself, that life isn’t living without those little perks, and so on. I agree with the idea that one shouldn’t deny oneself of things that bring happiness.

But sometimes those things bring guilt along with them as well. Sometimes we wind up feeling as though we’ve made a mistake in spending money, even if there are reasons to justify the purchase. Sometimes the bad outweighs the good, and sometimes we’re left with guilt.

When I bought the game, I felt a little tug in my conscience that I shouldn’t buy it, but I shrugged it off. After all, I had plenty of reasons and justifications for making that purchase. In the end, though, I should have listened to that little voice in my head, because most of the time, that voice is right – it cuts through the excuses and stories we tell ourselves to justify things.

If you’re about to buy something and that little voice in your head starts whispering don’t, stop. Your heart is probably trying to tell you something, a message that you’ve tried to pave over with incomplete reasoning and false excuses.

Instead, walk out of the store and do something financially positive with that money. Not only will it bring a financially positive result, but it’ll make you feel better about your situation, too.

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  1. Lurker Carl says:

    When I’m really Jonesing for something that isn’t really necessary or part of the “plan”, I put off buying it for a month or more. More often than not, it’s usually enough time for me to realize that item is currently not worth buying.

    But that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth buying at some point in the future, when the price decreases or the necessity increases.

  2. mp says:

    But luckily video games are really easy to sell on eBay or Amazon so you can recoup a large amount of what you spent!

  3. Sandy Naidu says:

    I quite like the idea of 30 day rule…Walk out of the shop and give yourself 30 days…Your urge will subside and you will realize you never needed it in first place.

  4. David H says:

    So… are you selling your copy of Mario Kart Wii?

  5. Tori says:

    This post is really timely: I read up on the Flip Video yesterday. My gadget lust-o-meter shot to 11. Even though I had a case of the “I Wants” there are many better things to put that $100 toward.

    Thanks for the post.

  6. Diane says:

    Trent, you really ARE being too hard on yourself. If you feel guilty why not do some financial “penance”? Lower the grocery bill by $50 or get the kids earlier from daycare for a few days to payoff the Mario Kart “debt”. Koopa Kape rules!!!

  7. livvy says:

    I think Mariokart Wii is worth it. I take all Wii party games and just invite people over to play. The more it gets used and the more times you play, the less guilty you will feel because you know that you and others had fun playing it. You can even play in the dark (so you don’t have to worry about that one LED light bulb) :)

  8. livvy says:

    oops, I submitted too soon. I DO get the guilt-factor. I have that attitude towards clothes more than games :)

  9. Mike says:

    Ahhh, the fine line between spending too much and living too little.

    The internal guilt is probably a good signal unless, of course, all discretional spending causes it but that would be an entirely different problem altogether.

    I often use the stall tactic on major purchases. Wants that hang around for a while are generally valid. With items of discretional spending the longer I wait and analyze it, the more pleased I am with the eventual purchase. Things that just trip my meter are often forgotten in a few months…

  10. Claire says:

    I completely agree with you about that little voice. I’m not even 30, but I feel like I’ve made a number of decisions in my life (financial and nont) that haven’t gone all that well, and if I had just listened to that little voice, things would have turned out better. Live and learn, right Trent?

  11. Serendipity says:

    I sympathize. I’m incredibly good at feeling guilty about purchases. While your game certainly wasn’t extravagant, I do agree with your idea that the little voice is right more often than wrong. After all, I rarely feel bad about *not* buying something. In fact, I usually don’t give it a second thought. But it might be a good idea to do some “penance” as suggested, just so you can start enjoying a game you obviously worked hard to earn.

  12. Bill says:

    Do you really know what you /deeply/ want? Money is made to be spent. It sounds like funtimes with Mario Kart Wii might be better than the “dream house”. Some people are content with just small daily rewards. In your article it sounds like you are sucking the joy out of life!

  13. Dee says:

    That “voice” has its own biases and can be very wrong too. Like you said, life is about perks too, but I wouldn’t even call them “perks” which indicates they are something extra. They are not. That is what life is. Enjoying yourself is a basic need just like shelter, eating and drinking.

  14. Sara A. says:

    I think that this is an important point for people who have advanced along the frugal path. It gets to where the money doesn’t create a life or death situation, but it comes down to listening to that “little voice” – you’re better judgement.

  15. typome says:

    I agree that the guilt is your subconscious telling you that you shouldn’t have. And right, it’s important to listen to that guilt before the purchase. I think if the purchase really meant the world to you that you wouldn’t second guess it (perhaps an expensive medical treatment for a relative, or even something you’ve been saving up for for a long time) then it’s okay to buy it.

  16. femmeknitzi says:

    This is something that I learned when transforming myself from a spender to a saver. I learned that when I made a list of all my wants, prioritized them, saved up for them and then made a planned, conscious decision to splurge on them, I literally enjoyed them more.

    Likewise, this weekend I found an incredible deal on a desk. We’ve been in the market for a desk. But I made a quick decision and bought it. It was a good deal but I didn’t take the time to think it over, plan for it or save for it. So I have been experiencing buyers remorse.

    You’re right, its not the end of the world and it won’t kill your budget but the bottom line is, if you’re proud of yourself for TRULY earning it, it’ll mean so much more!

  17. Carrier says:

    I have to agree with Dee: that “voice” can often be very, very, VERY wrong (I speak from experience here). For years, I let that voice deny myself all sorts of rewards after meeting milestones for years. Now I know that was a big mistake because that sort of denial really messed with my self-esteem. I kept telling myself that I didn’t deserve anything nice even when I could easily afford it. Now I’ve loosened the purse strings a bit and am much happier. Balance is important.

  18. Michelle says:

    I broke down and bought Mario Kart for the Wii as well. I felt guilty too, but mainly because I just found out that this game came out and bought it the next day. I never do that. Usually I feel that I earn something by waiting and thinking about it long enough to deserve its place as being a planned purchase. I dont feel like I wanted for this item long enough to not feel guilty about buying it. Although, I have to say my friends and I have already played it about 25 hours, making its cost $2/hr and that is only in the first 3 weeks, so I can see how over the life of this product, the cost will be insignificant and will actually encourage me to stay home with friends and cook something, instead of going out for dinner

  19. Ryan says:

    If you don’t mind the psychoanalysis, after a traumatic event in your own life you’ve trained yourself to resist the “wants” in favor of a newly-primal frugality. Whenever you violate this principle you might feel guilty. But you can certainly reason your way out of this guilt. Your brain is in charge not this “little voice.”

    Bottom line: You set goals and you met them. Tell that little voice inside to pipe down.

  20. Sara says:

    While I agree with listening to your little voice, and trusting your intuition, I also disagree a little bit too.

    You can become ocd about saving money, to your own detriment.

    However, I don’t think that is what happened here.

    What I hear from your post, is that you really enjoyed playing the old Mario Cart a lot. So if you still love the old Mario Cart and get a lot of play out of it, why would you need a new one? Just because it is new?

    Diversify, it might satisfy you more, than just another version of the same game.

  21. Bethh says:

    Is the issue spending the fifty dollars, or is it spending the fifty dollars *on a game*? Perhaps you’re realizing that a video game isn’t the right kind of reward for you.

    I could easily spend fifty dollars on an amazing chunk of cheese, bottle of wine, and grass-fed beef, to make a really enjoyable meal, and it would mean more to me than a video game.

    On the flip side it’s easy to argue that the game, which lasts for quite a while, is actually a better way to spend money. It all comes down to your own preferences.. just like everything else in the world.

  22. Celeste says:

    Sounds like maybe you set your goal too easy if you could make it 4 days into the month. Why not set it aside, set a new goal, and “reward” yourself all over again when you meet a new goal? There’s nothing wrong with what you did, but this might be a way to salvage your feelings about the game. After all, if you never play it then it is by far a worse indulgence than if you bought it on impulse and love it.

  23. Michelle says:

    Well Trent, as a concerned reader, I would be quite happy to take the game off your hands and relieve you of your guilt. Purely as a service to YOU. ;)

  24. terry says:

    Now that you bought something, it’s time to let something else go. Sell or donate something. At least that works for me. I don’t feel like I am accumulating a bunch of stuff.

  25. Kevin says:

    Its funny that you should mention this today. I am hopelessly addicted to one of my hobbies. I am also currently deep into debt reduction mode and today while surfing the web I found something that I really wanted. Did I forget to mention the my hobby is “herps”. I currently have 30 snakes as pets. I almost purchased the little critter but I had the same naggin feeling. I just recieved a bit of money for my birthday… and I think instead of buying a new critter… I will just use the money to update the housing for some that I already have. I have also been wanting to build some display tanks, so that is prob what I will do.

    It just struck me as odd…. that not 15 min ago I had the same feeling and left the reptile site and came here to get back on track :) and what do I see…. the same thing that I just went thru.

  26. tambo says:

    Hey Trent, have you added more ads lately? It’s taking for freaking ever for me to get The Simple Dollar to load at all. And, yes, I’ve cleared my cache. My only issue is here, all of my other haunts open just fine. I’m getting a LOT of stalls whenever I come here.

    Just thought you’d want to know.

  27. JReed says:

    Calm down; there is such a thing as being so “in order” that you are “out of order”. Some people are only happy if they are “perfect”. Some people are only happy if they are “suffering”. Some people relish self denial too much. When you are old, you’ll wish that you didn’t pay so much attention to those little voices…you’ll wish that you’d let yourself have a decadent good time once in awhile. Enjoy your game Trent.

  28. Don’t feel bad at all. Yes, that voice can help you make financial decisions but it doesn’t mean that they will alwyas hold up. If you saved up for it, payed cash, and met your other goals, then by all means treat yourself.

  29. juno says:

    maybe the guilt arises from some tacit realization that you haven’t really weaned yourself from your erstwhile spendthrift ways. why don’t you just give yourself a budget for entertainment and leave it at that.

  30. Alvin says:

    Hey Trent,

    I think you *are* being too hard on yourself. You clearly set the boundaries between where your goals and your ‘fun money’ was, and you knew it was money you could let go of.

    So let it go, take it easy, have fun – it’s not always about being deadly serious, is it?

  31. JC says:

    You know, I read this and immediately thought about what they say about dieting – if you beat yourself up in a moment of weakness, you’ll usually be just as likely to make the mistake again. However, if you accept the moment of weakness for what it was and try harder the NEXT time you know you should resist, then you not only will be more able to resist, but you’ve also learned a lesson.

    Instead of beating yourself up, find a way to scrounge up the amount and put it to better use. And then the next time the situation comes up, DO stop and think. And remember that just because you’re “dieting” doesn’t mean that you can’t have a treat every now and then. *wink*

  32. Frugal Dad says:

    When I turned 20 my grandfather wrote me a beautiful letter citing all the things I would encounter over the next decade. Ten years later I often refer back to that letter for inspiration. One of the most profound things it said was to “Enjoy life – stop and smell the roses.”

    Trent, you work extremely hard, and deserve the occasional splurge. It could have been worse. You could have charged it on a credit card, or spent your last $50 on the game instead of buying groceries. But that isn’t the case. That $50 expenditure didn’t break you, and you can justify it as an “Entertainment” expense in accordance with the monthly budget. Now, spend some time enjoying the game with your family!

  33. kyf says:

    you are serious aren’t you

  34. I felt the same way after buying my Wii and recently got it again after getting a new TV, and I didn’t even pay for it!

  35. Ed says:

    I’ve felt that guilt factor before myself. I believe the key here though, is that you set goals for yourself, that if you met you bought if not you skip. Since you met you bought.
    I could see the guilt if, maybe it was a spur of the moment purchase or money for some other purchase was funneled to the game instead.
    Maybe the guilt came from goals that were too easy to reach?

  36. mark says:

    I feel (felt) the same. What helps me is a quote from Your Money or Your Life and it goes something like this: “is this expenditure in align with your life purpose?”. So instead of beating myself over expenditures this is the question I ask myself. Is this expenditure getting me closer to my life goals. Is it in align with my values, my direction. I still feel “guilty” sometimes, even when the expenditure is in align with my goals, but hey… we’re all learning right?

  37. Rob Madrid says:

    What good does money do if you don’t have your health or your life?

    This is a comment my Sister in Law often makes. She’s had several close friends die young of cancer and currently our Aunt is very ill and not expected to last the year. She doesn’t regret for one moment the trip to Europe last year with her son, yes it caused major financial pain but she says it was absolutely worth it.

    Can your really put a price on traveling with your son before he leaves home and sets off on his own?

    Yes it’s a morbid question but when new readers come across article like this they assume being frugal means being a total skinflint, no thanks I want to enjoy life.

  38. Rob Madrid says:

    BTW my answer has always been

    D— you could have done the trip for half the cost and much much less financial stress and hardship.

  39. PChan says:

    Trent, I never post here, but I just had to say this: be careful to not let your little voice torment you. I’m not a big fan of consuming a lot of stuff or shopping; having said that, I don’t think there’s any harm in spending money you have on something you know from prior experience you will use a lot, especially when you’ve reached your financial goals. You didn’t impulsively buy this. You didn’t fall for MY two biggest temptations–books and eating out (imagine your little voice over that–YOU COULD HAVE MADE THIS MEAL AT HOME! YOU COULD HAVE GONE TO THE LIBRARY!) Don’t be so hard on yourself!

  40. Lisa says:

    I understand completely! The way I have learned to quiet the voice is to find ways to get the item at a greatly reduced cost to me. I still get the item but at a price that is within my little voice range of acceptability. Examples: share the cost and the game with someone else, 1/2 of 50 is 25 out of pocket, or buy it used in a few months, or rent for a weekend of planned gaming gluttony. The little voice is good, its your personally programed deterrent to uncontrolled spending. Work harder at alternatives, your voice will go away or even congraduate you.

  41. Sarah says:

    Conscience is a man made thing. Some people like “tripping” on guilt. :-)

  42. Bryan says:

    As a person that made the committment on New Year’s eve to pay off all my credit cards and be debt-free by August of 2008, I can sympathize with your dilemma. For YEARS I rationalized my spending habits as “living” well and “why deny myself”. The rationalization doesn’t wash because when all the credit cards hit max and I really NEED something I HAD to deny myself (usually out of a necessity) because all available funds were going toward cc debt that I had accumilated on “stuff” (most of which would end up at Salvation Army). I have learned to weigh the thrill of the initial WANT against the actual NEED. I find that I am an emotional spender and that I just need to step back and look around. I find that I need very little and my financial goal is now in sight. I WILL be credit card free in Ausgust of 2008.

  43. You could have snowflaked that $50. TRUE
    You could have used that cash to buy an LED bulb. TRUE
    You could have invested that cash to save for the dream house. TRUE
    You could have put it in the new car fund. TRUE
    You let yourself down. FALSE

    Anytime you start beating yourself up, you gotta stop it. The words you say to yourself are the most important words you’ll ever hear. I personally refuse to say things to myself that will result in more guilt. It isn’t always easy because we find negative things easier to believe than positive things.

    Trent, you’ve been an inspiration to so many people. You hit your goal, so enjoy the fruits of your labor to hit it!

  44. mrsmonkey says:

    Trent, it feels as if you’re at the opposite extreme end of where you where a couple of years ago when you couldn’t pay the rent. You’re human. Maybe what you could do is budget crazy money for yourself. And call it that…crazy money. You can do stupid things with it. or give it away to someone who can use the lift.

    While it’s important to save for a rainy day, there’s no reason not to enjoy the sunshine. Don’t spend all your resources and time waiting for the rain. Life is to be lived, not hoarded. Enjoy your good fortune. God knows there will be time when stupid good times will be a memory of something wonderful and mindlessly fun that you can actually wish you could do. Really. Life can deal you a fast one tomorrow…so enjoy today.

    Carpe diem.

  45. mrsmonkey says:

    ps…OR you can start a “stupid money” savings account and budget whatever you can afford to save up for completely idiotic things and while you wait to spend it, you’ll accumulate interest (but I suspect you wouldn’t enjoy the money as much because it would be “working”).

    While there may be a time when none of us can afford to budget for entirely unjustifiable fun if this economy and the “global economy” turns us into the second world type country they’d love us to be, you MUST enjoy what is a truly American endeavor – mindless fun. Take it, enjoy it and relish it.

    But for no other reason, there will be a time when all your resources will be unavailable to you – sickness or sorrow or hardship or whatever life deals you. So take this gift of time and silly fun and USE IT.

  46. Ricky says:

    Just consider it your contibution to the economic stimulus and subtract the money from your tax rebate.

  47. One who strives says:

    This story epitomizes a cycle of behavior I hope to change in myself. Perhaps not the way you might think. The cycle I see is not about the feeling of guilt leading to a resolve to make a different choice NEXT time about spending money.

    Rather, I want to make the choice to change THIS time about choosing to react to an experience where I spend money by beating up on myself in order to change my spending choice next time. I believe there is a huge lesson to be learned before reaching the lesson of spending choices.

    While I understand the guilty feeling — guilt rising too easily in many of us, myself included — I can and do view this whole related experience from a different perspective. First of all, I aim to make this mantra part of my psyche: Feeling guilty for even one second is a waste of precious time and devalues who I am.

    Squandering our time on this earth is way bigger loss than squandering money. To truly elevate our desire to get more out of life, to benefit the most from acting deliberately to direct our lives, then we must first (or at least concurrently) work on rejecting the thoughtless guilt habit. Sure, guilt *can* motiviate — here we see how it ultimately served as impetus to making a different spending choice in the future, a choice more in line with one’s changing desires and goals. Problem is, the device of guilt as a tool of change is that before it helps further us, it beats us down. It’s a time-wasting demoralizer. Every second spent flogging ourselves could have been spent more speedily sifting out and understanding what was learned and it could be used to get us where we want to go. Guilt is NOT the best tool we could choose as an enabler.

    The fact is, we can learn. A pretty miraculous thing in itself. Moreover, when we teach ourselves to think differently, our behavior follows suit. Our behaviors mirror our beliefs. This means we can focus our teaching/learning intent on changing our beliefs which results in a greater payoff than forcing behavioral changes. The behavioral approach is not without benefit or use in some applications, but the belief approach is more powerful. Neither is easy.

    Why, then, take unnecessary side trips such as indulging guilt. Yes, it is an indulgence. Instead of choosing spirit-flogging time-wasting guilt, what if you taught yourself the value of fully appreciating and growing from every experience? This CAN be learned. Step by step, experience by experience IF you decide guilt has no place in a life-affirming psyche.

    Why should you automatically flog yourself when learning from experience that you no longer enjoyed Mario to the tune of $50, that you would get more pleasure from spending $50 elsewhere? You LEARNED something, did you not? Learning is NOT FREE. It always costs. Nothing is free. The real question is how do you choose to pay for it?

    To me, instead of feeling guilty over having spent $50 on a game — having been on the fence of your own changing desires — you could be feeling grateful that you learned the game is no longer worth $50 to you. You could feel grateful to have observed your changing values in living breathing action … to have had presence of mind and direction to note that your new goals for your money (and your pleasures) are working. They’re working!

    By feeling grateful instead of guilty, you will get to the same place as you are now with regard to your decision about future spending. Next time, you won’t spend the $50 on a Mario game … and you’ll also use this experience many times over to examine other buying decisions. There’s the beauty of being open to learning. It doesn’t stay contained, it expands into other areas. We can apply a lesson many times over in different circumstances. Do you actually believe all that isn’t worth $50 to you? I’d argue that it is.

    Furthermore, by taking the path of gratitude and appreciation rather than chosing to carry a burden of guilt, you arrive at this new place with a Self you have valued and respected and honored as a being who learns. A Self you chose not to flog but to love. You get there with a Self who has deliberately chosen to value and honor the capacity to learn. You get there with a Self who understands EVERY choice moves us in some direction, and who can see clearly how this experience served to keep moving in the direction you have chosen.

    Is $50 in cash more valuable to you than honoring the goodness and rightness of your very Being? More value than respecting yourself as a Being who not only must learn to survive, but who can also choose to thrive on learning from each choice made? I assert that choosing guilt over gratitude is a choice to make $50 cash more valuable than the Self you have been given to shepherd through life.

    Lastly, I will say this. You know it, of course. I didn’t really write these words for you. I wrote them for myself. Exploring the experiences and choices of others is yet another way in which we are given opportunity to learn. I thank you.

  48. Rob Madrid says:

    I was going to add that it sounds like your going from frugal to stingy. But then I remembered the P— family, good friends, very middle class. They have 5 of the nicest teenagers one could want. Yet when it comes to stuff, everything is old and worn out with the emphassis on worn out.

    Don’t think they’ve ever bought anything new and anything they’ve been given has lasted years. Although they may seem poor they certainly don’t act or feel poor. To them new stuff just isn’t important.

    I like being frugal but I also like new things.

  49. Biff Smith says:


    I have a similar situation. My wife and I decided to split our economic stimulus payment, 1,200 in savings and 300.00 for each of us. I told her I wanted to buy the family a Wii with “my” portion of the payment. I have been thinking about a Wii for 6-7 months now. When the “check” came in I waited. My wife mentioned one day that she thought Guitar Hero “looked like fun”.

    So, I made an impulse decision to buy the Wii at a premium (290.00 off a guy from Craig’s list) and then bought the Guitar Hero III game for her. I felt really bad for paying a premium for the game and spending the money in the first place. We have zero C/C debt, we owe on our minivan and home, and our focus is on paying the minivan off in 10 months vice the 25 months it would take if making minimum payments. So, I beat myself up, that 400.00 (I bought an extra wiimote and numchuck) could have paid the van off one half a month earlier!

    Well, the remorse is just about gone; we played the Wii all day Sunday, as a family. My wife loves the game and my teen daughter actually spent time with us last night (waiting for her turn with the guitar but hey, take what you can get).
    The bottom line for me is this; we are financially stable, following a plan that’s a little Dave Ramsey, a little Elizabeth Warren, a lot of Benjamin Franklin. We have emergency cash put aside, we have zero C/C debt, we have retirement accounts and college accounts that get money every month, and we pay extra on our home mortgage. Where does it end? I’m not complaining, I’m just thinking that my foundation is in place; our financial security will only grow as we work towards financial freedom. If we can’t take a few bucks here and there and enjoy them, then why work for them at all? You didn’t harm your foundation so join me in letting go of the guilt and we’ll move on. (I’m going to get Wii cart eventually, I have it for every version made except N64, you can sell me yours when you are done  )

  50. Amphritrite says:

    I think this is something that affects all of us when we’re working so hard to kill debts. For instance, I lost my job last week, and although unemployment benefits are generous due to my previous high salary, it’s just a little more than enough to get me by.

    Yesterday, my sister and I went and had lunch, one of the things that I completely enjoy and rarely get to do with her. That was fine. I paid, we moved on.

    She mentioned she wanted to stop into a (higher priced) store that we both love to look in, but never actually BUY anything, and so I said, of course, sure, we can stop. I have the willpower of an elephant. No worries.

    In waiting for her to decide what she wanted, I browsed, and found a gorgeous sapphire strappy dress with orange accents that shouldn’t have gone together, but did. I passed it up, moved along to the clearance rack after glancing at the tag (It was $35, which isn’t HORRID, but I could make it for cheaper).

    She came across the same dress and said, “This would look awesome on you. You should try it on.” I shook my head. No, I wasn’t going to buy anything. No.

    But she was right…it would look good on me. I knew how empire cuts went with my bodyshape. It was a gorgeous color, too. Suited me just fine. My mistake was breaking down and trying it on, because once it was on and I saw how awesome it looked, I was screwed.

    I bought it, but kept thinking: That was $35. That was my internet bill. That was my power bill. That was food for a couple weeks. Why did I do that?

  51. getagrip says:

    My problem is the voice doesn’t usually get me on smaller things. It’s the big ticket items like appliances, furniture, cars, homes, that make me sick to my stomach after I’ve spent the money, no matter how good the deal, I always feel I could have done better. Hence the feeling of guilt.

    With respect to the article, I think Trent’s voice of guilt came because he reached his goals early, which may imply they were too easy and set too low. The tug on the conscience may not have been so much about buying the game, but about the fact that deep down Trent felt he set a goal he knew he’d hit without much of a stretch to guarantee he’d get the game.

    In other words, Trent may feel he created a lame excuse to get the game he wanted in the first place, which is essentially no different than just going out and buying it.

    Just a thought.

  52. sandy says:

    You do yourself a disservice man!
    You have worked so hard over the past few years, and while I applaud your “money conscience”, on some level you need to ensure that you are happy and able to enjoy your life.
    You like Mario Kart, you always have, it is a wonderful game, and you deserve to enjoy life too!
    My fear with all of this budget – budget – budget mindset, is that I will end up like “old man Charlie” a guy who used to live in the town I come from. He was so focused on not spending, that he ended up living his life as a bum on the street, and died with enough money in the bank that he could have been living frugally but comfortably in a decent old age home…
    and it is so true – our ‘inner voice’ can also be our worst enemy!
    Reaching a goal is reaching a goal – don’t allow yourself to ‘be guilty’ over doing that! Enjoy your reward – you earned it, and it will teach your kids good things about being able to reward themselves!!!

  53. rstlne says:

    You need to have a balance between saving and spending. That’s something I’m still trying to achieve after all these years even though I have no debt and I’m already far ahead in savings compared to the average for my age. You’ve got to enjoy some of the little things now before you’re too old to enjoy those.

  54. mjukr says:

    Are you going to keep it or sell it?

  55. Lady Tawodi says:

    I’m starting to have that feeling. I got my stimulus check and have it sitting in my savings until later this week where I’ll put it towards my car payment. But I decided I would buy myself a book off amazon.com. Last night I was rummaging through my wish list and low and behold, I couldn’t find anything I really wanted to spend money on. Everything on there made me think…..I could just save that money. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.

  56. M3 says:

    I don’t have advice on this one, but thanks so much for letting us know we’re not the only one’s who second guess ourselves. I agree that the voice was telling you something, maybe even something as basic as “this isn’t you anymore”. I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Congratulations for meeting the goals you laid out to get you to this place, anyway.

  57. Francis Rose says:

    Trent: do you and your wife have a “blow money” line in your budget? I stole the idea from Dave Ramsey. We each get $40 every two weeks that is strictly for fun. Several times I have saved it up from week to week to do something (baseball tix, clothes, etc) that I wouldn’t have bought otherwise. If you don’t have “blow money” you should consider adding it to your budget.

  58. Robert Dyson says:

    I bought Mario Kart Wii last week when a friend was coming into town, and I felt guilty at first. But then, after we didn’t go out at all two nights in a row (he’s a junior at Vandy, used to going out every night) I realized we’d already saved at least the cost of the game.

  59. Phil A says:

    I don’t know about Mario Kart Wii but Mario Kart 64 is a great game and one of the most addictive video games I have ever played. I love that Wario Stadium and using the lightning to shrink the other racers as they are going up the ramp and then they would miss the jump leaving them far behind.

  60. Charles Anderson says:

    Frugality is prudence in avoiding waste.

    Money spent on games as entertainment is only wasted if you do not derive pleasure from playing it.

    Feel guilty, play the game and enjoy the game. You spent $50 on it, but if you truly enjoy it for 50 hours, how much is that worth to you?

    I use 2 rules to get over my guilt.

    1) The 5 dollar rule.
    2) The 1 in, 2 out rule.

    I use the $5 rule. If I buy a game for $50, I am committing to playing it for at least 10 hours. Each hour of entertainment cost $5 for. 10 hours is my break even, everything after that should lessen your guilt even more.

    10 hours
    That is 4 movies you didn’t pay $7.00 to see.

    Still feeling guilty,

    The 1 in, 2 out rule

    Take two other video games, movies, or combination there of, and sell them to recoup some of the cost. Apply this to the cost to achieve break even faster. Do this enough and you soon get to the point where the only games in your collection are the ones you play all the time.

    Bonus you are reducing you clutter level and working toward minimalism.

    There is no guilt in owning a game system and x number of games. Especially if you play them all the time.

  61. Lisa says:

    I’d have to agree- you are being too hard on yourself. I’ve found myself in similar situations often. When frugal is the normal mentality it’s sometimes hard to remember that the present is important too. In the extreme case- you don’t want to end up hoarding your money and not enjoying the little things in life. Reaching your goals should be celebrated, and you shouldn’t feel guilty.

  62. gr8whyte says:

    In my younger days, I used to feel guilty when I bought wants but weaned myself off it by using each event as a learning experience to better prepare me for the next. No guilt, no regrets, can’t afford it.

  63. Anna says:

    This is a big, big struggle for our family. We’ve had repressed wants for so long, we’ve started to indulge, and we’ve lost a sense of what’s healthy. We haven’t gone wild and spent our (tiny) fortune, but I just don’t know what’s justified and what’s not.

  64. Just put everything in the cart that you want to buy…then just when you’re about the check out. Put the basket down and walk out.

    You’ll get the joy of having picked out all the things you wanted without the sorrow of having emptied your wallet. (But you might feel like a jerk for dumping a basket full of items for someone to re-stock).

  65. Kim says:

    I understand the guilt. I recently, after about 8 months of looking to replace my chipped stoneware dishes finally took the plunge and purchased the ones I had been looking at when they were about 75% off. Still…I have been plagued by the nagging thought of what I could have done with that money…the number of children in third world countries that could have eaten for a month on what I spent on dishes. I go through this same guilt every time I spend something that feels frivolous. I recently purchased new doggie pillows when I finally got sick of looking at messed up blankets in every corner of the house (it seemed). In the back of my head I calculate nearly every purchase by how long a child could eat under one of the programs like WorldVision or Compassion and it tears me up!

    What I am struggling to come up with is the healthy balance between caring for the poor and taking care of things here, wisely preparing for the future, as well as living moderately well today.

  66. Matt says:

    I can totally relate to this. I am currently stuck with the decision to buy a new LCD widescreen tv. My current TV works fine, but i’ve been itching for a High Def TV for awhile.

    I figure I should really wait till I can pay for it with cash, rather than putting it on credit, as I’ll only regret it when i need to scrounge around for the extra cash. And I really need to put it towards that house deposit.

    Thanks for the post. Very helpful.

  67. Chris says:

    I love that I’m being smart with my money now and that I see the opportunity cost when I buy something I don’t need. I cut down my discretionary spending to a shadow of its former self and dug myself out of debt. I don’t waste my money anymore and it feels good.

    However, if I ever feel guilty about buying one $50 videogame that I had been planning on buying for months (that I agreed I would only buy if I met specific goals) – please shoot me.

  68. Paul says:

    I can totally relate to this. I have been wanting a new xbox 360 for awhile now. I look at it every time I go into the store. Now, my PS2 works fine, but I really want the xbox 360. But I just keep listening to my wife who says that by the time the PS2 is dead, the 360 will cost half of what it does now. And, I can still get used games for the PS2 for a fraction of the cost of a 360 game. It’s a win/win situation for us for me to wait, but that doesn’t take away from me wanting that new system.

  69. Dave says:

    I know what you’re saying. In this situation I would feel the same way. Now, I don’t know deep down inside why you feel this way, but I know why I would. My little voice would be asking me, “what are you getting out of this?” If you are just sitting on your couch at night playing the Wii, then you’re not really getting anything out of your purchase. You could just as easily be sitting on your couch reading a book (free from the local library).

    On the other hand, I would argue that you deserve the game. Since you and your readers have all listed the reasons that you deserve it, I’ll spare you from reading them again.

    So in your situation, here’s how I would reconcile this purchase: I would make it work for me. I would get something out of it. In my case, I would invite my friends over to play a few times. This could replace a night at the bar or the movie theater. This way you’re saving a little money by not going out and you’re also building “social capital”. And it’s way more fun than playing by yourself anyway.

    If you get something back from the game you’ll find that the little voice is quickly placated.

  70. David says:

    You set goals and a reward for meeting those goals. You met the goals, and now you feel guilty for taking the reward? Nonsense. Stop rewarding yourself if you must, but playing by your rules is a lot more important than wringing your hands over a $50 game that you enjoy playing. Don’t get weird on yourself and your family. This is what it’s all about–you set aside that money for this purpose.

  71. Matt says:

    Personally I don’t feel guilty about buying video games for a very simple reason: they have great value.

    Think about it. If you invite some friends over and play a game for just 1 hour instead of going to a movie, each person saved 10$. Do this a couple times and games become very affordable. The same principle would work with buying movies, but you are more likely to replay a game than rewatch a movie.

    Even if its a single player game I think its worth it. Many games last 10 hours (or more), for a $50 game that’s just $5 an hour, $2.50 if you replay it and even less if there is multiplayer. Just make sure that the money on games is coming from your entertainment budget.

    That’s my strategy anyway.

  72. slackbob says:

    Man do I sympathize with you there. I am still trying to find a balance, though a financial mud hole I have myself in is messing up those efforts.

  73. Andre says:

    I had the exact same problem when I bought Mario Kart Wii (I had just before bought another Wii game and only bought MK after a long back and forth session.) After I played it for the first time I had fun but still couldn’t shake the guilt.

    The guilt itself finally left when my girlfriend (who normally doesn’t like playing video games with me) and I spent an entire weekend at home playing it together, and have done so many times since then. Thus, the $50 spent on the game brought back a return of:

    A) An activity my girlfriend and I both enjoy and can spend our time together doing and

    B) An activity we can do at home for free (after the initial purchase) instead of going out and spending money.

    On weekends we like going out for lunch, going shopping at the mall, eating out for dinner and getting drinks at a bar. (What un-married couple doesn’t, yeah?) Well, with Mario Kart I made lunch and dinner at home and we didn’t go to the mall or a bar.

    Theres a lot more returns, tangible and intangible, in a “guilty” purchase like Mario Kart than you may initially think.

  74. abhijeet says:

    Hi I found an interesting way to check urself before u spend. i saw it on lifehacker.com
    It goes like this:
    say if you want to buy a camera for $100, what you have to do in order to get it is spend atleast 10% of the day value( 10 days to be precise) in searching for the best price and comparison with other similar products. If after 10 days and all this comparison you still feel you need it buy it then but if you feel that you dont then you have saved those dollars wisely.
    Another thing me and my wife practice is when we go to a store like walmart or the mall, initially pick up all the things that you think you need but before you reach the cash registers, look at the stuff and then be your own judge whether you REALLY REALLY need it? Turns out, we return about 30% of the stuff we initially thought we needed but really dont need. Now if we go every week to a store that means that over a month we actually avoided 120% spending.
    Also we try to geoshop. our workplace is halfway between our house and the mall side of town. if we need to go to the mall side of town, we always start from the workplace and rarely from home. that saves us gas.
    And obviously the GUILT that follows.
    I hope these tricks may be useful to someone.

  75. PJ says:

    Sounds like you need to set yourself a ‘fun’ budget too; if it’s in the budget you shouldn’t feel guilty about it!

  76. Carl says:

    You are being far too hard on yourself mate! You live a frugal life anyway, allow yourself the odd luxury that will allow others to have fun with you. And if the cost really bugs you then rent it for a short while ;-)

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