Over the years, my hubby had bestowed me with some really great gifts. One year for Christmas, he surprised me with a huge print of my favorite athletic facility, Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Another year, he arranged for me and my best friend to go away for a full day of pampering in honor of my birthday. And then there was the Build-a-Bear he created just for me for our first anniversary, back when we were flat broke.

But the Mother’s Day gift he gave me this week blew all those things out of the water.

Mother’s Day Coupons

Since we’re saving for our down payment on our next home, I gave my husband fair warning not to go overboard on Mother’s Day. While Americans were expected to spend more than $18.6 billion dollars on Mother’s Day gifts this year – an average of $152 per mom – I gave my husband this rule: “Spend as little as possible. In fact, if you can, don’t spend anything.”

I know, I know, I’m a bit of a control freak.

But my husband – Lord love him – took my command and ran with it. I awoke Sunday morning to a sealed envelop sitting on my bedside table. As I opened it, several slips of paper fell out of it. I looked over the paper, and soon realized they were coupons for a variety of things, including:

  • 5 15-minute foot massages
  • 5 30-minute full-body massages
  • 3 chances to ask my husband to do my chores while I relaxed
  • 3 chances to ask him to cook a three-course meal of my choosing
  • 3 full days of zero responsibilities: no chores, no childcare, no work

But my very favorite coupon read the following:

“This coupon entitles you to one guilt-free, no-strings-attached purchase. Shoes, a new dress – pick what you wish, and don’t worry about the budget. I’ve got it covered.”

What Made It So Perfect

I have a complicated relationship with money. Although I never grew up poor – my upbringing was decidedly middle class – I somehow developed a severe case of money guilt. Any time I’d return home after a trip to the store, whether to buy myself a much-needed pack of underwear or a frivolous purchase like a stylish new purse, I’d find myself struggling with buyer’s remorse. Sometimes, that buyer’s remorse would send me scurrying for the return counter; other times, I’d keep the purchase, but the money guilt would plague me, preventing me from really enjoying the purchase, and feeling a little pang of anxiety every time I wore or used that particular item.

That’s why my husband’s permission for a guilt free purchase was so important. It was a visual reminder that we are finally in a really solid place financially: fully funding our Roth IRAs, contributing to our children’s 529 plans, paying all our bills while socking away a little extra for our already large emergency fund. We’ve earned the right to spoil ourselves now and then, without feeling money guilt or buyer’s remorse. We’ve earned the right to make a guilt free purchase. We’ve earned the right to enjoy the money we’ve worked hard to make.

My Guilt Free Purchase Plan

I’ve been so riddled with money guilt over the years that I rarely leave the house without a shopping list. That list helps me focus on my immediate needs, rather than my wants, ensuring that I don’t end up with buyer’s remorse.

This time, though, is going to be different.

Right now, I don’t have a plan of attack when it comes to what I’ll be buying as my guilt free purchase. I’m going to take one of my “mommy days” offered by my husband via the Mother’s Day coupon to stroll through the mall, visit some local clothing boutiques, and try on a whole bunch of clothing items. I’m not going to restrict myself to my usual go-to clothing stores (Target and Kohl’s); rather, I’m going to make my guilt free purchase an enjoyable shopping experience. I’m not going to look at the price tag – well, at least I’ll try not to. Instead, I’m going to focus on how the garment looks on me and how it makes me feel.

For the first time in my adult life – or, at least since I had children – I’m going to allow myself to make a completely emotional purchase.

Reader, do you ever give yourself permission to make a guilt free purchase? How does the experience differ from shopping for the “needs” in life?

Libby Balke

Libby Balke