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Was It Really Just a Splurge? 3 Signs of a Spending Problem

signs of a spending problemI was recently on a call with a couple of coaching clients where we were discussing values-based spending and they brought up an interesting point. They very astutely pointed out that there’s a fine line between the occasional splurge based on your values and a spending problem.

*This post has been written by Amanda Abella – a fabulous writer, speaker, and financial coach!*

They were absolutely right. I’ve definitely seen values based spending twisted into something it’s not, like getting massages people can’t afford when they’ve got debt up their eyeballs because they “value self-care.” This example isn’t a splurge, it’s a clear cut sign of a spending problem.

However, for those who are beyond that and do feel like they have some extra money to spend, how do you tell the difference between the occasional splurge and the first signs of a spending problem?

Here are three questions you can use to keep yourself in check:

Is this splurge affecting your financial goals?

Most people save whatever money is left over after they spend each month, financially savvy people do it the other way around.

If your splurge is something you saved for, or it’s money leftover after you’ve put money away for the month, then it’s probably not a sign of spending problem. In that case, you just spent some extra money that was lying around on something you really wanted. There’s nothing wrong with that.

If on the other hand, it is getting in the way of your financial goals such as paying off debt or maxing out your IRA, then maybe you need to curb your spending.

signs of a spending problemAre you taking on debt?

The reason credit is such a slippery slope for people is because they fall into the “buy now, pay later” mentality. This is far different than someone who uses a credit card, but already has the money in the bank to pay for said charge. They could have paid cash, they just decided to use credit for whatever reason.

If you’re taking on debt for your splurges, then it’s probably a sign of a spending problem waiting to happen. Actually, the problem already happened because you owe money. In this case, it’s time to tighten the belt and make some adjustments so you don’t end up with a full-blown issue.

Have these splurges become a habit?

The very nature of a splurge implies that it’s not something that happens all the time. For example, I don’t need to buy my favorite skincare products every month, I can make them last quite a long time before needing to restock.

If, on the other hand, your splurges have turned into monthly spending, then you may want to check yourself. Do you really need all the stuff you’re splurging on? Do you even want this stuff? The key here is to just become aware of the signs of a spending problem so you can catch it before it gets out of hand.

Final Thoughts

There is absolutely nothing wrong with splurging on something every once in a while. Unless you don’t actually have the money for it or it’s turning into a regular occurrence. If that’s happening, then you may have the beginnings of a spending problem.

Do you have signs of a spending problem?

Battle of the Mind Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. My spending problems only involve food! Seriously, at least I can admit it to myself, but my stomach lacks self-control and it’s something we are currently trying to work on. Other than that, I’m good…no excessive splurging for me. Again, unless it’s food:)

    • At least you’re good in one area! I’m pretty bad at avoiding bad food myself. To counter this, I just only buy healthy food and eat junk food when I’m at friends, which isn’t nearly as often.

  2. My spending problem revolves around eating out with my girlfriend. Unfortunately, this happens because we both work over 60 hours most weeks and grocery shopping just does not happen.

    • Yeah, that would do it. My wife and I really don’t splurge on anything. We’re pretty boring, but in a good way. 🙂

  3. When you are working at a job you hate that leaves you in knotted up pain from stress and sitting at a desk all day, a massage is not a splurge it is absolutely a self-care necessity, debt or no. If you are getting one every week (nice but not necessary) then yes that is over-kill. I also “splurge” on a good stylist every 5 weeks, plus hair color every couple of months. My husband goes to a “cheap” haircut place and complains every time about the hair cut he gets. When my hair looks nice, I feel good about myself. Buying cigarettes and beer all the time when you are struggling, THAT is a different story. Please think carefully before passing judgement about what you value versus what someone else values.

    • This was always a tough one for me. I am SUPER cheap, so if I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t even go out to eat. It just wasn’t important to me. I never understood why anyone would ever want to spend $50 on a meal when they can make it themselves for $10 at home. I’m starting to come around on this one. Basically, as long as you don’t do something all the time like it’s a drug, and it doesn’t put you into financial distress, then it’s probably okay. It’s always good to check yourself though.

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