Mufti Justice Hadhrat Muhammad Taqi Usmani (db) writes in “Easy Good Deeds” (“Asan-Nikiyan”):
Barring a few insensitive and selfish persons, there is none in this world who does not spend money on his family; the only purpose of the struggle for earning a living is to provide one’s family with their needs and to make their life easy and comfortable. Few know, however, that this effort too is an act of great merit in the eyes of Allah.
According to Abu Hurairah (r.a.a.), our Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said that, “There is one dinar which you spend in the way of Allah (for jihad), another is tha you spend on freeing a slave, another is that which you give a poor man by way of charity, and there is another dinar which you spend on your family (wife and children): the dinar that you spend on your wife and children has the highest merit.” (Sahih Bukhari)
The reason why spending on one’s own family is superior to other spendings is that providing for one’s family is a duty (fard), while other are by way of nafl in nature; obviously fard earns more merit than nafl. It also makes the point that spending on one’s family has more merit when the family is needy, but when their needs are fulfilled in the proper way, then it is more meritorious to spend on others.
Umme Salmah (r.a.a.) once asked our eternally blessed Prophet (s.a.w.), “O Messenger of Allah! Do I earn merit even when I spend on my sons from my previous husband Abu Salmah? They are after all my sons and I cannot abandon them.” The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) replied, “Yes you shall get merit for it.”
Sa’ad ibn Waqas (r.a.a.) relates, that our eternally blessed Prophet (s.a.w.) said that: “Whatever you spend for the sake of earning Pleasure of Allah – even for the food you put in your wife’s mouth – earns merit.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
All these ahadith clearly prove that if one spends money to fulfil the lawful needs of his family with the intent of giving them their Divinely ordained rights as commanded by Allah and of pleasing Allah, then every expenditure earns him the same merit as sadaqah.
Behold how infinitely kind and gracious is Allah that what one does solely to satisfy his own inner urges has been changed by a slight change of intent into an act of such merit that it has become superior to all other sadaqah and expenditures. Hence to please Allah, one should openly spend to fulfill the lawful needs of one’s family and should never regret it.