Mothers & money: Spending guilt and financial frustrations

Think back to before you were a mom. Remember how you'd purchase a latte or a new pair of shoes without batting an eye? How you used to grab drinks after work without feeling guilty about your self-indulgent spending? You probably never thought twice about simple purchases like these, so why are you punishing yourself for even considering them now?

According to a recent survey by BabyCenter of more than 3,000 moms, women are encountering increasing amounts of money anxiety after giving birth. This includes an overwhelming fear of guilt about spending and apprehension over improper saving habits.

[More: Your RESP rulebook]

Granted, raising kids can be extremely expensive. As such, it makes sense for new moms to have their minds on their money and their money on their minds. However, many moms are reporting that their money anxiety is interfering with their emotional health.

If your bundle of joy is making it virtually impossible to banish money stress, rest assured you're not alone. Here are a handful of issues that were uncovered by the BabyCenter study, as well as some tips to help alleviate your penny pinching obsession.

1) Feeling guilty about personal purchases

According to the BabyCenter study, more than 57 percent of new moms feel guilty when they spend money on themselves. The source of this anxiety is threefold: first, as a new mom, you're still adjusting to the fact that you're no longer your number one concern. Second, you probably have less money now that you're a mom; and third, you're still struggling to adjust your finances to handle a growing family. These factors combine to create an overwhelming sense of fear when it comes to spending money, even on the smallest of personal purchases.

[More: Childcare choices & what they mean to your bank account]

Having a baby is certainly a financial shock for any family; however, your new addition doesn't have to blow your budget completely off course. Sit down with your spouse or a trusted family member and seriously sort out your financial responsibilities. While you're at it, build in some spending for yourself. Try and set some money aside to spend on "extras" including entertainment, shopping, and that morning latte. It's always easier to spend on yourself when it's a planned purchase, so don't be hard on yourself. If there's room in the budget, give yourself a salary. You'll more than deserve it!

2) Obsessing about spending on baby

While moms are hesitant about spending on themselves, they apparently have no problem splurging on the newest edition to their family. Stats from the BabyCenter study found that 90 percent of moms are more likely to purchase something for their child than for themselves. What's more, mommies tend to spend 61 percent more on their child's clothing than on their own.

Spending money on your new child isn't just fun, it also gives moms the high of shopping without the guilt of spending on personal items. What's worse, it's easier to rationalize a purchase for your child if it's a toy or gadget that might build her brain or make her laugh.

[More: You're having a baby!  The financial steps to take now]

Moms often find themselves living in a child-centric, materialistic society that's constantly pushing parents to buy, buy, buy. Failure to live up to this standard often leaves moms feeling as though they've failed as a nurturer. On the flipside, if you're constantly overindulging your children, they'll never learn the true value of money.

When it comes to curbing spending on your kids, it pays to learn the power of saying "no". This will not only teach your children how to tolerate not getting everything they want, but it will also help you to avoid irresponsible spending decisions.

3) Money makes being a parent easier

Many moms feel that having money — and more of it - is a necessity for raising kids. In fact, 68 percent of moms that responded to the BabyCenter survey felt that having money made parenting easier. Close to 62 percent also felt that they needed more money in order to feel secure about their child's future.

From daycare to healthcare and higher education, raising a baby through to adulthood can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. As such, it's crucial to have a long-term financial plan. This might include making some hard decisions concerning your lifestyle. Ask yourself, what's more important: living in a big house, paying off your student debt, or growing your family? Sometimes opting to live a simpler life is all it takes to better care for your children.

[More: Oh baby!  The costs of becoming a mom]

Mom needs a splurge, too

Mommies don't have to be misers. Take the time to manage your family finances in a responsible but relaxed manner. Splurging every now and again, both on yourself and your new baby, is perfectly acceptable.  After all, what's good for mommy is often what's good for baby, too!

GoldenGirlFinance.ca is a free personal finance and education site for women.

Nothing contained herein is intended to provide personalized financial, legal or tax advice. Before implementing any financial strategy, you should obtain information and advice from your financial, legal and/or tax advisers who are fully aware of your individual circumstances.

Sign up for your free financial scoop - from Golden Girl Finance - today!

Search