Are These Guilty Spending Pleasures Wrecking Your Budget?

What’s the most difficult category to stick to in your budget? Food? Entertainment? Miscellaneous items?

We all struggle with different kinds of budget busters. Kind of like budgetary “kryptonite”, they’re things that we just push the limit on month to month.

In a recent study from Varo Money, they defined these expenses as “guilty pleasures” and asked Americans which get the majority of their money.

Overall, 87% of Americans admitted to spending money on guilty pleasures. These are the top 5:

  1. Eating out at restaurants — 42%
  2. Online shopping — 33%
  3. Ordering take-out and delivery — 27%
  4. In-store shopping — 25%
  5. Streaming entertainment services — 20%

The top four of these five are also what Americans would like to spend less money on in the coming year. In essence, Americans are saying, “yes I know I overspend. Yes, these are the things I tend to overspend on. And yes, I’d like to stop overspending on them.”  

Can you identify?

Of course, the only way to keep from overspending is to limit your spending all around. Your overall expenses must be less than your income in order to stay on a healthy budget. So arguably, you’d have to give up or slim down on at least one of your “guilty pleasures” in order to correct your budget.

Are These Guilty Spending Pleasures Wrecking Your Budget?

Out of all the guilty pleasures listed, Americans wanted to keep one: streaming services. Only 7% of those surveyed said that they planned to spend less on streaming services in 2018.

I think this is a fascinating find, given the consumer migration from “all-in-one cable” to “a la carte streaming services” in recent years. It’s also interesting given it’s the only entertainment-centered expense on the list. Americans say they’re willing to give up their Chipotle, Amazon, Uber Eats, and Free People, but not their Netflix.

In today’s “plugged in” culture, I’m not sure this is good news. Our relationships with our phones, tablets, computers, and TV’s has gotten out of control. And in many ways, is keeping us from stewarding our time the way God wants us to.

God cares greatly about both our time and our money:

Psalm 90:12 – Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Colossians 4:5-6 – Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Psalm 24:1 – The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…

Proverbs 23:4-5 – Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

When we surrender both our time and money to His lordship, we live with more peace, freedom, and joy in our lives. But it takes self-control, a faithful heart, and disciplined hands to get there.

So when it comes to your guilty spending pleasures, use it as an opportunity to exercise your self-control. Ask God to give you a faithful heart. And see the fruit of your disciplined hands by sticking to your budget and saying “no” to the things that don’t matter in eternity.

The first step is to have a budget that works for you! Crown has an easy-to-use guide that walks you through the process so it’s neither overwhelming nor intimidating. Whether you use an app, a spreadsheet, or a notebook to budget, the Easy Guide to a Budget You Love can help!