Help For the One Who Feels Guilty Buying Things

Dr. Tam Wai Jia

by Dr. Tam Wai Jia


I know I am not alone in second-guessing myself when buying something. I’ve wrestled with the thoughts and guilty feelings that plague many of us who struggle with finances. We ask: “Should I feel guilty buying this?”

After all, we’re a family with two young kids living off a single, part-time income in Singapore: a very expensive city. We know what it means to need to budget carefully. Spending on yourself or something you like or taking a pay cut to pursue a passion can feel not only like a luxury, but sinful even. I often asked myself, “if something is ‘non-essential,’ shouldn’t I just go without it?”

For many years, I thought that way. I’m a humanitarian doctor and run a non-profit organization. Shouldn’t I know better than to spend on ‘frivolous’ or personal things?

For years, I never took holidays.

Last year, as we planned trips to Canada, Australia, and mapped out a vision trip to Africa to explore relocating our family for missions, my heart lurched at the financial dent these plans would create.

Traveling as a family of four gets expensive quickly.

The ruminations began: “Maybe it was stupid of me to scale back part-time at work AND run a non-profit without salary. Maybe these are bad financial decisions. Maybe I’m a bad mom for not stewarding our resources well.”

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My husband, Cliff, and I struggled with my anxiety about our bank account until I had a breakthrough with God one day as he showed me a new perspective: it is not the absolute cost of something that should cause us to second-guess our purchases, but its alignment to our values and His.

… Because we valued visiting Cliff’s elderly parents and our children’s relationship with their grandparents, we made the long trip to Canada after not seeing them for 3 years.

… Because we value Cliff’s identity as a cancer-survivor and transplant-athlete, we decided to go to Australia to cheer him on in his World Transplant Games race as he represented Canada.

… Because we value God’s call for our family to serve in a developing context, we were open visiting Africa to explore options to serve in healthcare and education.

None of these were cheap options. They were costly choices.

And strictly speaking, none of these were “essential” decisions either, from a life-and-death point of view. But they were worthwhile because they upheld what we value. They give our lives meaning.

As such, we can let go of the guilt and dash the false narrative that “we don’t deserve it.” Let’s remember Matthew 6:25-33:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 'Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Here, we are assured that God provides for all our needs. And He calls us higher still: to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and to trust that in doing the right things, that all our basic needs will be met by God. Do you trust Him?

If you’re struggling with a financial decision—whether it’s taking a pay cut to pursue a different career or shelling out a lot of money for something big like an overseas trip to visit someone—and the root of that anxiety is a fear that you might not have enough, ask yourself: What do I value?

Is it memories? Relationships? Family time? Obedience to God? How do these align with His heart?

If that value is precious to you, if you sense God’s pleasure, and you take the leap to trust His provision by acting through wholehearted prayer, you may discover that while what you desire may not be cheap, it is wonderful and not at all wasteful because of the inherent VALUE that decision holds.

Make financial choices according to our most valued principles aligned with God’s heart, rather than by least expensive price-tag. That is what makes spending worthwhile.



Dr. Tam Wai Jia is a Singaporean humanitarian doctor, author, international speaker and the founder of Kitedreams and Kitesong Global. She is married to her best friend, Cliff. Together with their two little ones, they desire to serve the poor in developing nations. Follow her on Instagram @tamwaijia and at