How to Deal With the Overspending Habit
Overspending, or under-earning, is a big challenge for many of us. Our eyes get a little big for our wallets, and we give in to impulse. Overspending is like overeating. It’s the result of short-term thinking without giving the consequences full consideration. Spending money can also be like a drug. It’s a quick way to feel better.
Eliminate your overspending habit:
1. Spend according to your budget. Of course, you already have a budget? Right? Make a budget and limit the amount you can spend. Ensure that you’re also saving consistently. If you have the urge to purchase something, whip out your budget and make a responsible decision.
2. Short-term pleasure leads to long-term pain. It’s practically a universal law. If it’s pleasurable in the short-term, you’re going to suffer in the long-term. The opposite is also true. A daily trip to the gym isn’t much fun in the moment, but the rewards are great. A $300 rhinestone unicorn might be satisfying today, but what about three months from now?
3. Give yourself space before making a decision. Like other habits, overspending lacks thought. It’s automatic. You’ve learned to receive pleasure by giving in to the impulse to spend. Stop for a moment and disengage your mind from the path that it’s on. Spend 30 minutes doing something else and see if you still want to buy it.
· Some experts recommend causing yourself a little bit of pain when you’re about to overspend. Snap yourself on the wrist with a rubber-band or give yourself a pinch. It will change your state and bring you out of your buying trance. You’ll also learn to associate pain with unnecessary buying.
4. Consider what your overspending is costing you. Too much debt can make it impossible to get a mortgage or a car loan. You won’t be able to take a vacation. There may come a point that you can’t purchase the things you need to live. You might also get stuck working into your 70’s. Consider the consequences of overspending.
5. Avoid opportunities to overspend. When are you most likely to overspend? Is it while visiting your favorite store or website? Just stay away. Avoid the temptation altogether. Make a list of your favorite spending venues and remind yourself of the consequences.
6. Make note of how you feel before and after a purchase. Do you spend when you’re feeling out of sorts? What emotions trigger the urge to buy something? How do you feel afterwards? Before making a purchase, ask yourself if you need the item or if you’re just making yourself feel better.
· If you’re just making yourself feel better, don’t buy it, and find another, more beneficial way to feel better.
7. Feel gratitude. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for before overspending. Studies have shown that feelings of gratitude increase willpower leading to reduced spending. Gratitude can increase resistance to instant gratification. Give it a try.
· Also note that stress and anxiety lower willpower significantly.
8. Track every cent you spend. At the end of each day, review how much you’ve spent. Keep a running total. Be sure to include everything, no matter how small. You’ve spent a fortune on small items over your lifetime. Track it all.
Avoid spending money on things you don’t need. Overspending is a dangerous financial habit. Replacing your savings always takes longer than you think it will. Relying on debt is even worse. If you currently overspend, give this issue the time and effort it deserves. Overspending is the fastest way to destroy your finances.
-Tiffany M. Vaughn, CPA