Money is Not for Spending

This is a great essay from Mary Hunt – she is the author of numerous books as well as the famous Everyday Cheapskate newsletter. She is my favorite mentor when it comes to money and spending issues – and I’ve used this essay a couple of times because it illustrates the point so clearly. Her website is DebtProofLiving and I really suggest you go over there and check out some of her books and other resources.

If you have a spending problem (and I do as well), you might want to print this one out and tape it to your mirror or something. I think it’s some very powerful information that might really help you to change your ways.

Money is Not for Spending
by Mary Hunt

It took me a long time to fully understand that money is for managing first and then for spending. It takes courage to believe that, but when you do it will profoundly change the way you think about and manage your money.

Imagine this: It’s Friday, a day you have come to know and love as “cake day”. You want cake, you love cake and doggone it, you deserve to eat cake. You stop at the store and pick up the ingredients necessary to bake a cake. But even before you can get home, you begin eating the ingredients because you are so hungry for cake you simply cannot help yourself.

You gulp a couple of eggs; chew up some butter and sugar; and down a load of flour and cocoa. You pull into the driveway completely disgusted with yourself. You try to hide the evidence but it’s all over your face.

The worst part: Eating the cake was not nearly as satisfying as you’d dreamed. It was anything but enjoyable. The ingredients for your chocolate cake are gone and now you feel ashamed and embarrassed.

An absurd analogy for sure, illustrating the foolishness of eating food that has not yet been prepared. The very same ingredients that made you sick could have become a culinary masterpiece had you exposed them to a recipe. Those ingredients were not for eating; they were for preparing first and then for eating.

It is equally foolish and unsatisfying to spend money that has not first been managed. To manage money means to take full possession of it, to subject it to a specific plan and direct it accordingly. It is a matter of creating a season of ownership between receiving and dispersing.

Managing money is a learned discipline, a gratifying process. When money flows into your life, you are responsible for where it goes and how it performs. You are the boss. You can watch it drift out of your control or you can manage it according to a formula that you have developed.
It doesn’t matter if you are a single parent struggling to survive with no outside help or the CEO of a prosperous business. You need to know ahead of time exactly how you will manage your money.

There are certain mandatory elements that must be part of your management system, like giving and saving. When you bring reason to the management of your income, feelings of dissatisfaction, worry and hopelessness will quiet down. You will be driven to plug the money leaks in your life. A commitment to spending no more than you earn will become so important, you’ll find yourself keeping track of where the money goes.

No matter your situation–single, married, old, young, whether you’re deeply in debt, unemployed or at the top of your career–you need a system through which to process every dime that enters your life.

Only then will you fully understand why money is not for spending. It is for managing first, and then for spending.

Be sure and come back every Thursday for a fresh installment in my Smart Money series. To see the rest of the series, just click the tag at the bottom of this post and it will bring up a list of them.


  1. says

    found you on SITS. totally wish i had found this essay a year ago when my husband and i first moved out here… oh well since then we have figured it out :)

  2. says

    Oh I LOVE Mary Hunt. I found her book at DI (think good will) and have often reflected on her sound advice.

    This post is fantatic. Thank you for the much needed refresher on Money management.

    (I found your blog a few days ago, I am one of your new reader subscribers).

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