Spend and Save: Master Guilt-Free Spending

Let go of your money guilt when it comes to funding your priorities.


The two actions associated with money are clear: spend and save. However, finding the right balance between the urges to spend and save can be a convoluted process, to say the least. 

We’re a budgeting app. Spending and saving is literally our area of expertise, and it’s still something we’ve struggled with when making big decisions. 

Every year here at YNAB, we plan an annual retreat for our team. We’ve been to Costa Rica, The Outer Banks in North Carolina, a ranch in Montana, and more. In 2019, we all met up in sunny Laguna Beach, California, and it was even more amazing than we could ever have imagined.

Our team works remotely, all over the world, and the company retreat is our chance to come together. Sometimes, we get to meet people we’ve worked with for years but have never met and it’s so important for our growth as a team and our work overall.

The retreat is more than just a social gathering; it’s an opportunity for in-person work sessions, team-building activities (no trust falls…well, maybe a few trust falls), and just good old-fashioned quality time together. We work together, play together, and reinforce the bonds we’ve made as a team and company. Every year, we leave refreshed, motivated, and excited for the year ahead together.

When we first started out, there were only a few of us, so planning (and the decision to spend and save for) the retreat was pretty effortless. Now that we’ve been growing like crazy, creating an unforgettable experience takes a bit more time and, of course, money (I can see the numbers running through your head now).

Want to join us on one of these awesome retreats in the future? Check out our open positions here, and we’ll see you soon.

How to Prioritize When to Spend and Save 

Despite the (exponential) budget increase year over year, we never, ever feel guilty about spending on our retreats. It’s something we plan and prioritize all year long. The YNAB team retreat is a non-negotiable category that is 100% aligned with our priorities.

If you’re feeling guilty or second-guessing spending money on your vacation (or anything else), that guilt can come from one of two places:

  1. The spending is out of line with your priorities.
  2. Your priorities are out of line with your spending.

You might be thinking, “But those are the same thing.” Yes, they are. There is only one reason why you feel guilty when you’re spending money, and it’s because it’s not actually in line with your values. That’s it, nothing else.

Go Ahead, Spend Your Money Guilt-Free!

When you save amounts of money in a category over the course of several months to a year, pulling out the debit card to finally spend it can be nerve-wracking. Sure, it feels good to have it in a savings account or checking account, but if your spending is truly aligned with your values, it will feel good once you accomplish your goal, too. 

So the next time you plan on spending a huge chunk of change, notice for a moment how it feels. Just notice it. 

Don’t judge that feeling, just observe it.

If it’s guilt, don’t feel guilty about feeling guilty. Just recognize, “Hey, whoa! There’s a little signal. Let me slow down, analyze that signal a little bit, and see if I can separate noise from signal and get to the bottom of this.”

And you find out a lot of times that yes, your money isn’t quite aligned with your priorities and you’re just kind of going with the flow—that’s fine too. You might end up doing stuff you don’t want to do, and that’s ok. 

Just pick yourself up and get right back on track with the priorities you set initially.

And we’ll be here for you the whole way, helping you spend and save. 

If you want to give up the guilt you have about spending, creating a budget that aligns with your values can help. Check out YNAB for free for 34 days to spend and save with confidence.