Overspending can hinder you from achieving the life of your dreams. Mindless purchases likely leave you with severe buyer’s remorse and an empty bank account by the end of the month. Then you’re left scrambling for money or using a credit card to cover your bad moves. If you recognize your own negative patterns and are ready to stop, there are solutions. We’ve put together a few tips to help you stop overspending and save instead.
Understand Your Spending Triggers
It’s important to take a closer look at the “why” behind your spending habits. This means identifying the psychological and emotional triggers that cause you to overspend. Some possible spending triggers include:
- Peer pressure from family and friends
- Your mood and mindset
- A certain day, time, or season
- Certain environments such as shopping malls, craft fairs, or home shows
- Your lifestyle choices
A good way to identify your spending triggers is to keep a spending diary containing a record of each shopping trip. Write down what you bought, your feelings before and after the purchase, and how much you spent on it. This can help you limit how often you give in to the urge to buy on impulse.
Consider Going Cash-Only
It’s more convenient to whip out a credit card to pay for a purchase. But it’s possible you could become too dependent on credit cards, increasing the likelihood of overspending. Consider giving your credit cards a break and commit to spending money with cash, checks, or debit cards to see if it will curb your spending habits. When using cash only, you’re forcing yourself to stick to the plan and are basically done spending when your money runs out.
At the end of the month, review your budget and purchases to see how much you spent. Then, use your credit card statement to compare spending over the previous months. If you spent way less when using cash, that could be an incentive to stick to cash for the long term.
Create a Budget
A crucial first step to curbing overspending is taking a hard look at what you take home each month versus what you spend. Without this knowledge, you’ll continue to buy what you think you can afford, only to realize that your account is not as plush as you thought. Seeing how much you blow on electronics, clothes, and other items can be a major wake-up call.
To get started, add up all your sources of income and then tally up your fixed expenses, such as your rent or mortgage bill, car payment, utilities, and debt. List your variable spending from clothing and entertainment to gas and groceries. Allocate funds to each variable spending based on how much you’ve spent in the past. Don’t forget to put some money in savings. When you’re done, test your budget and adjust the numbers for the next month accordingly.
Impose a 72-Hour Rule on Certain Purchases
If you have an overspending problem, you’ve probably made an impulse buy only to regret it later. There’s a simple way to avoid impulse purchases and save money. It’s as easy as setting a dollar amount, such as $50 or $100, and imposing a 72-hour rule on purchases exceeding that limit. This way, you give yourself time to think about whether the item is really necessary. If you decide that you really need that item after 72 hours, then go ahead and purchase it. For larger purchases, say something over $500, you might wait a week or even a month.
Zero Out Your Accounts
It’s easy to think that if you have extra money lying around, it’s safe to buy whatever you want. However, that mindset can easily lead to overspending. To curb your overspending habits, try to give every dollar a job. This doesn’t mean spending until it’s all gone but finding some valuable use for every dollar in your budget. Start by paying all your bills first, then move the rest to other accounts, such as a retirement fund or a savings account. Your financial awareness increases when you proactively decide what you want your money to do.
You can’t completely change your overspending habits overnight. But by simply acknowledging them and finding ways to stop spending beyond your means, you can become a savvy consumer over time.