I stood nervously at the counter as the cashier rang up my purchases. I had just picked out a few new clothing items for myself, and was anxiously waiting for that menacing grand total to pop up on the screen that was facing me.

You should work hard so you can enjoy the rewards it brings. Don’t just tuck all your money away for a rainy day – allow yourself to have a little fun!

“Alright, that’ll be $183.47,” she said with a friendly smile, as I tried to swallow that lump that was permanently residing in my throat. Why? Well, let’s face it: I felt guilty. Guilty about spending money that, in all reality, was mine to spend as I saw fit.

Spending money is not a financial strategy that many people tout.

Of course, these items were things that I wanted. I definitely didn’t need them. And after a lifetime of sitting through my dad’s countless lectures about “wants and needs” and hearing how important it was to save for a rainy day, my financial conscience was quite literally screaming at me. Why are you dropping your hard-earned money on these things? Think of all the more important things you need to pay for! What are you doing?

Sound familiar? If you’re somewhat conscious of your spending and responsible with your finances, I’m sure you can relate to that feeling of guilt and self-doubt any time you treat yourself to something that didn’t quite make the cut to the “needs” list. And, to a certain extent, that nagging conscience is a good thing. After all, you’d never want to swing so far in the splurge direction that you wind up with no money to your name.

However, as with anything, I’ve learned that managing your finances involves a delicate balance.

Yes, saving is important, but that doesn’t mean you should be so strict that you never allow yourself to actually enjoy the money that you accumulate.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of extremes, which makes walking that fine line relatively tough. Either you’re in a spending-free zone or you’re pinching every penny. Either you’re on a strict diet, or you’re indulging in an entire pint of ice cream.

Let’s just say that many of us have a hard time with middle grounds.

I know that this balance becomes increasingly tough to navigate when it comes to your own money. I’ve talked before about that intoxicated feeling I get watching the checks roll in and that balance in my savings account continuously grow. However, what good is that large sum of cash if I never actually do anything with it?

Having an emergency fund and enough to cover my monthly bills is one thing – I always make sure to take care of those things first and foremost. But if I have a little extra left after doing that, I feel somewhat entitled to use it on things that make me feel happy and fulfilled.

It’s for this very reason that the sentiment of “work hard, play hard” has not only become my unofficial approach to life, but also my philosophy about my own finances.

I work like a maniac to bring in the money, so you can bet I’m going to reward myself with a few unnecessary purchases and experiences every now and then.

If you often find yourself falling into the same guilt-inducing trap that I somehow always wander into, consider this your friendly reminder: you don’t work your tail off so that you can collect huge piles of cash and then just sit there and watch them grow.

You deserve to work to live, and not live to work. And, remember – you can’t take the money with you in the end, anyway.

So absolutely pay your bills, save for a rainy day, and invest in your future. But if you have some left over when you’re done with that? Go out and have a little fun. You’ve earned it.