If you feel that, despite your best intentions, your hard-earned money gets frittered away, you may need to curb your spending.
Sure, shopping is part of life, but there are many reasons why it’s easy to overdo it: the convenience of tapping and swiping. All the tempting, bright, and shiny things seen on social media. A boring afternoon that becomes less tedious when you browse for a new laptop.
Spending too much and too often can have consequences. The average American currently has almost $8,000 in high-interest credit card debt, and some of that could be due to overspending.
Fortunately, there are effective ways to tackle this issue and take better control of your money. Read on to learn more about what can cause you to overspend plus tactics that can help you better control your spending.
7 Ways to Curb Your Spending Problem
If you find yourself being a bit too freewheeling with your spending, recognizing the issue is step one (good job!). Then, it’s time to try some tactics to help you cut back.
1. Mapping Out a Budget
Without a budget, you can spend money mindlessly, without thinking much about it. Mapping out your spending patterns and essential expenses by creating a household budget can help you see where your dollars go and figure out where to cut back. In short, it can teach you how to be better with money.
• To create a budget, check your income and then track your current spending patterns. Review your monthly bank statements or receipts from recent purchases. You can also use a free tool to track your spending, which makes the process even easier.
• Identify essential expenses vs. non-essential ones. Necessary spending includes such items as housing, groceries, utilities, healthcare costs, and transportation.
Non-essential costs are things like eating out, leisure travel, and entertainment. You may be surprised to see how small daily purchases — such as eating out for lunch every work day — can add up to a lot of money spent over the course of each month.
• Once you figure out how much you tend to spend in each expense category, it may be easier to identify places where you could cut back and reduce excessive spending. A monthly budget can allot specific amounts of money for vital expenditures, savings, investing for retirement, and fun activities, too. There are an array of different budget methods. It can be wise to try a couple until you find one that works best for you.
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2. Calculating Hourly Earnings
A night out may not seem like a huge splurge in the moment — especially when compared to your total earnings for the month. But, that same expense can quickly appear more significant when you tabulate how many hours of work are needed to pay for it.
To try this approach, figure out your hourly pay: Divide your after-tax pay by the number of hours worked. If you get paid twice a month and work a 40-hour week, divide your total earnings by 80 (two weeks times 40 hours). Then use that insight:
• For instance, a birthday dinner and drinks with friends that costs $200 would translate to eight hours of work if you earn $25 per hour.
Whether that spend feels worth it is a personal decision. However, many people find that determining how much you earn per hour may provide incentive to stop spending. Or it might nudge you to consider carefully before you spend to make sure the expense feels worth it.
Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money
3. Understanding What Triggers Spending
Whether it’s the gourmet food section at the grocery store, the Instagram influencer with the covetable closet of clothes, or that friend who drops big bucks on concert tickets, for all of us, the urge to spend can be triggered by emotions and outside influences.
Even something as seemingly innocuous as the physical shopping environment — think about in-store displays, prominent markdown messaging, and subtler cues like store layout — can trigger people to want to spend. When figuring out how to stop spending money, it can be key to understand which emotional or psychological cues make you take out your wallet.
There are a couple ways that understanding your spending triggers may help. For starters, you might plan ahead to avoid scenarios that make you more prone to spend. And, when the urge to shell out cash strikes, evaluate whether the purchase is really necessary or if it mainly feels good in the moment. These tactics can help you manage your money and feel in control.
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4. Shopping with a Plan
Of course you can’t always avoid spending triggers. We all have to shop sometimes. Still, it may be easier to avoid the temptation to overspend by creating a shopping list and sticking to it. That’s one way to spend wisely.
For example, going grocery shopping may be easiest to do right after work. But that time of day may also coincide with when you’re ravenous. Hungry shoppers, research shows, tend to buy more non-essential items.
Creating a set list of items to pick up can help you focus on what you really need — rather than buying out of want.
5. Finding It Cheaper
Of course, there are times when you’ll choose to spend money on specific purchases. Comparison shopping may help you cut back on expenses. You may be able to find the item cheaper elsewhere. Or, you might find a similar brand for less.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for discounted pricing. Holding off on a bigger purchase until it goes on sale (say, at holiday time) may lead to additional savings.
Need some other ideas for managing your money better this way? Consider these:
• Try couponing and discount codes. There are many sites that can help, such as Coupons.com and Retailmenot.com.
• Join a warehouse club. These stores can be cheaper than your local supermarket. Are the quantities too big for your household? Share them with friends and split the cost.
• Shop where you get rewards that lower your costs. Loyalty can pay off.
6. The 30 Day Rule
Want another idea for how to quit spending money? Before you buy something, take some time to think it over, rather than giving in to impulse spending.
Studies show that activities that provide instant gratification, such as impulse shopping, activate feel-good chemicals in the brain. But, if that purchase comes at the expense of your long-term goal to save, buying now could set you up for guilt after spending later on.
If you see an item of significant expense that triggers a “gotta have it” feeling, put a note in your calendar for 30 days later. Write down the item, the price, and where you saw it.
When that date rolls around, if you still feel you must have the object of your affection, you can decide to get it. But there’s a very good chance that your sense of urgently needing it will have passed.
7. A No-Spend Challenge
You can gamify your spending to help you save. Try a no-spend challenge; you may want to have a friend or family member join you to make it more fun and help you stay accountable.
In a no-spend challenge, you typically pick a period of time during which you will only buy essentials. One popular option is a No-Spend September. Or you might declare that you won’t buy any fancy coffees for a week and put the money saved towards debt. Then, the next month, you could not buy any personal care items that are luxuries (a pricey new lipstick just because it’s pretty) rather than necessities (yes, it’s okay to buy toothpaste when you run out!).
5 Factors That Contribute to Your Spending Problem
Now that you understand some ways to stop spending money, it can also be helpful to understand and avoid some of the things that can lead you towards doling out too much cash.
1. Social Media
Social media can be fun and exciting. It introduces you to new people, new ideas, new products and services, and, consequently, new ways to spend money. As you scroll, you are likely to be exposed to dozens of influencers and offers that can encourage you to buy things you never previously knew about or wanted.
One way to fight back? It may be helpful not to link your credit card to your social media accounts to minimize the possibility of overspending.
2. Emails and Text Messages
Here’s another way your digital life can contribute to overspending: If you get emails or text messages heralding new products, sales, and other offers, it can trigger you to buy.
For example, if your favorite home design retailer sends you a message saying their most popular throw pillows are almost sold out, that may get you to buy. Or if you get emails from a favorite athletic brand saying they are holding a “buy one, get one” sale, you might decide to go ahead and shop so you can get that free garment…even though you actually don’t need anything. Unsubscribing from these marketing messages can be a budget-wise move.
3. Retail Therapy
Many of us shop as a pick-me-up. If you’re having a bad day at work, had a fight with your significant other, or are stressed about almost anything, hitting some stores can be a welcome distraction. However, this can also lead you to buy things that you neither need nor craved before you set foot inside the shop.
Recognizing what triggers retail therapy can help you short-circuit this habit. Or you can try the tactic of leaving your credit cards at home when you go browsing at boutiques.
FOMO stands for “fear of missing out,” and it can drive a lot of impulse purchases. If your friend says you must try a pricey new restaurant in your neighborhood or your coworker suggests a life-changing hairstylist, you might feel as if, yes, you must spend money on these things. It can make you feel as if you are part of the in-crowd or “keeping up with the Joneses.”
Understanding this FOMO spending dynamic can be a major step towards stopping this kind of overspending.
5. Lifestyle Creep
Lifestyle creep occurs when, as you earn more, you spend more. Many people think that getting, say, a 10% raise is license to go spend 10% more. However, this can just keep your finances at a baseline level rather than helping you build wealth and reach longer-term goals.
As your income climbs, it can be wiser to raise your contributions to your retirement fund or your debt payments rather than heading to the mall to celebrate.
Budgeting With a SoFi Savings Account
Naturally, it’s not possible to stop spending money altogether. But adopting a few smart habits, such as budgeting, understanding your spending triggers, and shopping with a list, could help you take control of your money and spend less.
The right banking partner can help with budgeting, tracking your spending, and putting your money to work for you.
Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.
What is it called when you can’t stop spending money?
There are various terms used to describe the issue of spending too much, such as compulsive shopping, impulsive shopping, shopping addiction, and pathological buying.
How do you stop spending so much money?
There are many tactics you can use to stop spending so much money, such as budgeting wisely, understanding your spending triggers, sleeping on it or waiting 30 days, and only shopping when you have a plan.
Is overspending a mental disorder?
Sometimes called money dysmorphia or money disorder, overspending may be considered a psychological disorder. It involves a person being preoccupied with money, spending it, and financial status. It can trigger feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. In addition, compulsive shopping can be considered a form of obsessive-compulsive or impulse-control disorder.
How much is too much spending?
There is no set amount that equals too much spending. Rather, it occurs when spending negatively impacts your financial and personal life. If you can’t stick to a budget, are burdened by debt, or find that your preoccupation with shopping interferes with your work or relationships, then your spending could be excessive.
How do you stop the cycle of overspending?
You can stop the cycle of overspending in a variety of ways, including creating and sticking to a budget, planning your purchases (whether a big-ticket item or just weekly groceries), using cash, and going on a spending freeze.
What is the root cause of overspending?
Overspending has various causes. It could be due to boredom, lifestyle creep, FOMO (fear of missing out), and wanting to reward oneself or boost one’s mood, among other reasons.
Why are you always overspending?
People can overspend for an array of reasons, such as not having a budget that works, wanting to treat themselves, and trying to keep up with social media influencers or with friends and coworkers. These habits can be broken with a bit of self-knowledge and focus.
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