Do You Get Judgy About How People Spend Money?

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oh money. it is one of the top causes of marital conflict and something that makes a lot of us uncomfortable.

i sometimes find myself getting judgy about how people spend money. i don’t spend hundreds of dollars on shoes or a luxury purses so sometimes my eyes go wide when i hear how much someone spent on a single item. while i cherish my iphone and laptop deeply (both placed in the top things i would grab if there was a fire) the latest technology gadgets aren’t a must for me. i have however, spent thousands of dollars on traveling with my husband over these past few years.

i started thinking about this when i overheard a conversation in a coffee shop between two people griping about how their friends were spending money. one couldn’t believe that one of their mutual friends would spend money to get “yet another master’s degree” and another one of their friends apparently loves designer fashion. they felt these (non-present) friends should be smarter with their money. i found myself sort of agreeing with them, from my corner where i looked busy but was really listening (creeper status, i know).

money clothes man shoes

i recently wrote about my husband and i going to antarctica soon (we will be on the boat in less than 2 weeks!) some people may shake their heads to imagine we would spend thousands of dollars doing all of this travel instead of buying a house or something but to us, it is what we currently value. the memories we are making together while traveling is more important (to us) than owning a home at the moment.

related: how to talk about money with your spouse

sometimes i think judgement is okay because we are human and that is how we distinguish what we value and what we don’t. regardless of whether we are never judgy or super judgy – we still don’t know someone else’s full story. while we may have certain feelings about how someone spends money, it’s still not really our place to do anything about this because we all value different things.

while i don’t think it’s wise to go into debt to have the fancy shoes or even traveling, i do think it’s a fair point that people are allowed to spend money how they see fit. of course i’d love everyone to be more educated about ways to spend, save and invest money but when it comes down to it – that’s not my place. the only money i have control over is the money i make with my husband. again, it goes back to what we value at this time in our lives.

maybe that’s instant gratification because we’d rather travel than stock pile money for a down payment but as my mom often reminds me “you can always buy a house – but you might not always get to travel like this!” that works for me and my husband and it may not work for you. that’s okay. as long as you and your spouse are on the same page, do what is fulfilling to you. as my grandparents say “you can’t take it with you!” yes, my family is full of good one-liners.

i also acknowledge that we are privileged to be making enough money to have excess to spend on traveling because that certainly hasn’t always been the case. we also make sacrifices in other areas of our life to be able to afford to travel (we really only go out to eat if someone gives us a gift card, we don’t buy new clothes, we don’t have cable, we don’t buy many home decor things and i’m not allowed to go into target unsupervised because my willpower is low there).

related: why you need to schedule a money date

i will say that while our big dream for next year isn’t completely ironed out, we have decided to spend less on traveling and start using our money differently. we get that choices and we are utilizing it!

so there you have it, my musings on why it’s normal to be judgy around how others spend money but when it comes down to it, how others (outside of our immediate family) spend money has nothing to do with us.

what do you think?


  1. Jennifer Haston

    November 11, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Hi Chelsea! Great post! So on my mind right now, as we are working so hard to get out of debt- projected for next month!!!!! At the same time that we are conscious and budgeting for that – we still spend money on stuff like movies/dates/a getaway last October to the beach (which I think back on now and smile) – There are lots of reasons to scrimp and save but hubby and I decided that we wanted to spend time together while on this journey, we both work extra hours to help pay down our debt but we still make time to do fun things together. I have given up buying shoes (AGHGHGH) and dvds while we finish paying off our debt. I used to be super judgy about how people spent their money till we got on the Dave Ramsey plan to get out of debt and build wealth, He does a great job of putting that into perspective by talking about ratios.. I find it helpful to also think about the “season” of life you are in as well. When we have kids for instance, we will save for college funds and retirement.. WE are not there yet.

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 10:16 am

      wow HUGE congratulations jennifer on getting out of debt and hopefully by next month! i know how hard you both have been working to make that happen so well done!

      it sounds like you have figured out how to do things that make you happy while creating memories AND working on your financial goals. i need to break down and finally read some of dave ramsey’s books on money because i know he has good ideas! totally love the aspect of ‘seasons’ in your life and right you are…no kids so no college funds for now! 🙂

    • Paula Howley

      November 12, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      I’ve been talking about Dave Ramsey to my husband for a year. I WISH he would give it a go.
      Paula Howley recently posted…Singing Bird from the Mosh Pit of Despair

  2. Erin @ Very Erin

    November 11, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I’ve definitely been guilty of judging people for how they spend they money. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothing or makeup. But then again, I spend absurd amounts of money on take-out food. So I’m really not one to judge!
    Erin @ Very Erin recently posted…How to Work Out From Home Effectively

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 10:17 am

      i think it’s human nature and i’m with you erin! mmmm take out food and that’s what makes you happy so that works! looking forward to catching up on your great posts!

  3. Clare

    November 11, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Love the post. They always say look after yourself first then everything else flows, and what better way then to travel and see the world together.

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 10:19 am

      thanks for your comment clare! i like what you said and honestly traveling is such an eye opening experience that it makes me want to give more of my money to organizations that are working to help people in need!

  4. Elyse

    November 11, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I’m definitely guilty of judging people! I don’t spend much money on my outward appearance but I’m sure that people might think we spend a lot of money on making memories(aka…date nights). We are also in the season of life where we are paying HUGE amounts to pay down debt because we want to start looking for a house(years of memories!) so we aren’t taking extravagant trips instead we are finding fun things to do that don’t involve travel.

    Thanks for the reminder to not judge!
    Elyse recently posted…Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 10:18 am

      i think we all are, elyse! we are the same with making memories as opposed to outward appearance 🙂 well done team for paying down your debt – that’s fantastic and i know it’s not easy! yay for starting to look for a house. we may be in this season of life (as jennifer said) in the next few years so i will be looking to you for fun things to do that don’t always involve travel!

  5. Paula Howley

    November 11, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I hate money. Hate it. I get judgy over my husband spending money because he doesn’t manage our money. Next year my goal is to put our financial house in order. Decidedly un-sexy and desperately needed goal.
    I get judgy over a lot of baby boomers’ lifestyles- my own parents for example. They have every creature comfort known to man but do next to nothing for their fellow humans. I wish they took less for themselves and gave more to the less fortunate. I’d be happy to have a smaller inheritance, really.
    Paula Howley recently posted…Singing Bird from the Mosh Pit of Despair

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 10:21 am

      that sounds super tough paula, especially if you are wanting one thing done with your money but your husband is doing something else with it. glad you are taking action to remedy things so that you feel better about where things are for next year – sometimes goals are unsexy (good blog post idea) but necessary! interesting thought to the baby-boomer generation and how they spend money. maybe talking about what phenomenal charities are doing in their home city could help inspire them to give a little, if you haven’t already 🙂

  6. chelsea jacobs

    November 11, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I think you nailed it with, “What works for me might not work for you.” That sums it up!
    chelsea jacobs recently posted…just write: sweet glances.

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      i guess i should have just posted that and left it at that! ha 🙂 thanks for reading chelsea!

  7. Audrey

    November 11, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Man, sometimes I wish someone would watch me spend money and judge me into not doing it… especially at Target. Ugh. Sometimes when we’re lounging on the couch I ask K if he wants ice cream and he says, “No, we just ate. I’m fine.” Um… thanks for TOTALLY SHAMING ME, dear. But he’s right. We DID just eat. And I’m just bored. (He’d never call me fat but he does point out obvious stuff.) I need someone like that for money. “Um, Audrey, you already have 4 fox plates- you don’t need a 5th.”
    Audrey recently posted…#Hashtag Hump Day & Confessions

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      i think they must pump something into the air at target where it lowers your inhibition and willpower because i totally feel you! i am also guilty of being a bored eater but OMG fox plates i need them! wait…no. i’ll send a reminder every now and then that you don’t need a 5th one 😉

  8. Kate

    November 11, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Thank you for this post! I always feel judged and embarassed when I read blog posts/comments about “those women who spend such and such amounts on designer clothes!” I’m starting to learn that I don’t need to defend the things I purchase to anyone other than my husband. I like to buy nice things every now and then, but that doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible with my money or that I’m in loads of debt. I think every one of us has our own category of “things we don’t really need” but spend money on, and it’s really nobody’s business but ourselves and our spouses/partners/roommates (because if I had a roommate who spent $500 on shoes and then couldn’t pay half the rent, I would not be pleased).
    Kate recently posted…Wanderlust Wednesday: Portland, Oregon

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      good call on not having to defend what you spend (it rhymes yay!) to anyone other than your boo-thang. it’s between the two of you. agreed that sometimes it’s just nice to buy something nice and plus higher price usually means higher quality so in the end it lasts longer but that doesn’t mean we aren’t smart with our money!

      oh and that would be so terrible if a roomie spent all that money on shoes and couldn’t pay rent. bad news.

  9. Amberly

    November 11, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Yes to all of this!! I’ve actually had similar thoughts brewing about some of these. And it’s like you said, it all comes down to what we value. It doesn’t matter if you value different things than other people, it’s just important that you and your spouse are able to agree on what you value and what you want to spend your money on 🙂 My mom always wonders why we spend so much money eating out, but it’s what we enjoy doing together.
    Amberly recently posted…The Perks of Being Married to a Cancer Scientist

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      yup, our families wonder that about our travel too but it’s what we enjoy and what we value for the time being! i’m glad that you and joe are strong in your values and what you want to be spending your money and time on amberly!

  10. Nina @ Hugs and Lattes

    November 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I get judged on how much money I spend on clothes. . . and coffee. . . but I’m also not super wise with my money so there is that. (And in my defense, I don’t buy clothes very often.)

    It’s so easy to judge people because of our different value systems. While it’s okay to have our own opinions, I don’t think it’s okay to share it with people not directly involved (like those ladies with their mutual friends.) They’re paying $5 for a latte. Their masters degree friend might not spend as much on coffee so she can get a second masters. Priorities.
    Nina @ Hugs and Lattes recently posted…The Dark Side of Blogging

    • chelsea

      November 11, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      yes good point about not blabbing it all over tarnation where innocent evesdroppers can listen and then put it in a blog post! truth about not knowing also what others sacrifice in certain areas to be able to afford other things. well said nina, thanks for your comment!

  11. Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian

    November 11, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    I think it’s very valuable to travel, even if it means spending a little more. I’ve had times in the past where I decided to take trips that may have been a little more than I had been used to paying but nothing can replace those memories.
    Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian recently posted…A Month of Horror Movies

  12. Rachel G

    November 11, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I liked that you added the caveat about immediate family members. I think it’s important for families and people with close relationships to be able to talk about money pretty openly, and even to give advice and guidance. Lots of young people have no idea what they’re doing with money as soon as they hit adult life, having loved ones who are actually willing to get involved and talk through budgets and future plans and expectations can be really helpful!

    I wouldn’t say I’m judgy about what other people spend their money on…though I will say that any complaint involving a maid tends to make my roll my eyes (i.e. I’m not the kind of person to look to for sympathy if you want to complain about the hassles of having a maid clean your home for you). I’m naturally more of a saver, but I also like to do fun stuff. Hitting the right balance of both feels good.
    Rachel G recently posted…How to Cope with Homesickness

  13. Diana

    November 12, 2015 at 7:35 am

    I was just talking about this with a friend the other day. I also have to remind myself when I get upset about what others have that I want (like a new house, car, etc). I talk it out with my husband we always go back to: “but that’s not where our priorities are right now.” Listing out those things helps me decide where I want to spend money and why.

    I love that you and your husband are traveling. Trust me, it ‘s no fun to be stuck in a house because “that’s what you’re supposed to do with your money.” We’ve had to deal with this for years because of a house my husband bought before I met him. Worst decision ever.
    Diana recently posted…Seven Tedx Talks to Change Your Life

  14. Charlene

    November 12, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I totally agree. We don’t know other people’s situations. While saving money in some areas may seem objective to us, we will never know someone else’s whole story. And frankly, it’s none of our business.
    Charlene recently posted…Thankful Thursday: Giving Thanks for the Ordinary

  15. Alanna

    November 12, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Recently my cousin was asking about an upcoming trip I was planning and afterwards said “ugh, you make too much money”, while scrolling through his ipad, iwatch, AND iphone (ok maybe not all at once but you get the picture). I was so hurt/offended because I try to be very smart with my money and use miles and points for trips so that I can travel often. I know I don’t value fancy new electronics and I TRY not to judge him for doing so but I just felt very judged for choosing how to use my own money.

  16. Vivien

    November 12, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    I agree, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business if someone judges a stranger on their money habits especially when you’re not getting the whole story. Maybe the individual wanted a second MBA because they felt it would help them on to the next stage of their career, for example. Close friends/family members I feel we can give our two cents more if we know more of the ins/outs of their financial situations.

    As one of my mom’s coworkers once said, “everyone has their own way of spending money.” I think that’s absolutely true. Someone else may have no clue why you would want to spend so much money on X, and you can’t believe they would fathom buying Y. In the end, we all have certain (different) things we spend a little more money on and we think it’s worth it. I think remembering that keeps me from judging a lot of the times.
    Vivien recently posted…Why I Almost Vowed to Never Enter a Tall Tales Contest