Justification vs. Rationalization

I was reading Gail Vaz-oxlade’s book and came across a section with this title. It was fantastic because it was something I needed to hear.

Too often I justify my expenses. Even if I leftover budget money when I have an unanticipated fun expense I tell myself, ” We deserve this! We cook our meals, use coupons, and make frugal decisions.” I even go so far as counting the number of uses we get from an item.

Basically I justify the expense. Gail recommends losing the justification and moving to rationalization. This involves asking myself two questions:

  1. Do I have the money?
  2. Do I have another purpose for the money?

I pay myself first, this means that I put set amounts into savings as well as towards my debt and  bills. Therefore any money leftover should be spending money. However, I can easily get a bit disappointed with myself if I spend my full budget.

I’ll give you the example of Valentine’s Day. We had spent a lot less on groceries at the beginning of the month so I had some space in the budget. I used that money to pay for our date.

Rationally this is fine. That money was earmarked for lifestyle spending. Yet I still justified it- we don’t go to the movies often and we should date more often. I do this because I’ve got a little voice that tells me that I should be throwing everything I have at my debt and I’ll never have enough savings to achieve all my dreams.Cruel voice!

I have spoken before about this dilemma but having the questions laid out like this has helped me. I tend to use question 2 to make myself feel guilty and I’m going to work on not doing that anymore. If the money is in my variable spending budget it is only earmarked for lifestyle spending. 

I need to work on creating financial balance in my life. I’m responsibly managing my finances and part of that means enjoying the things my money can purchase. My current plan allows me this balance I just need to remind myself to live it.

I will still be tracking some of my purchases. While this habit stemmed from justifying these buys I like that it has helped me really think about what I’m bringing into my home. Just because I have the money to purchase a gorgeous tea set doesn’t mean I should as chances are it will simply end up in a cupboard languishing until a suitably special occasion occurs.

Do you engage in justifying your spending?


13 thoughts on “Justification vs. Rationalization

  1. All the time! I could be in the middle of a two-week stretch where I’m buying basically nothing and regularly saying “no” to stuff I don’t need, and then at the drop of a hat I’ll buy a coffee…and I’ll justify it until the cows come home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I do this too. My head voice has a ledger that tracks everything. It allows my husband to buy and enjoy, but shames me. Isn’t that pathetic? A long time ago, there was a website that had a game The Abundance Game, that helped me realize how allowing myself to feel abundance, with even the smallest purchase. I think I need to find that site again….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Prosperity Game – Saving Without Scrimping

  4. Of course I do this. In my experience living in balance is a skill that everyone constantly needs to work at. There is a need for balance in everything we do; money management, health, love – everything. It’s hard to get out of the black and white.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s nice to know we’re not alone with our struggles. While I am going to work on rationalizating vs justifying these comments have helped me see how normal my current emotions are.


  5. Pingback: Revisiting My Lists – Saving Without Scrimping

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