Spending money may be part of life, but it’s easy to go overboard. It can be so convenient to swipe, tap, and click your way to a quick purchase. And there are products and services to buy that pop up all around us, such as while scrolling on social media, tempting us to splurge.
In other words, it can be easy to overspend. Approximately one in five American workers run out of money before their next payday, according to a recent report by Salary Finance. Too much shopping could be one of the culprits.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to refocus and keep more of your hard-earned cash. Here, you’ll learn more about what triggers overspending and smart strategies that can help you manage those shopping urges better.
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. 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).
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.
💡 Quick Tip: Want to save more, spend smarter? Let your bank manage the basics. It’s surprisingly easy, and secure, when you open an online bank account.
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.
6. Sleeping on It
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.
Mulling over purchases can be beneficial. You can impartially evaluate whether you might still treasure the item months down the line, or more or less ignore it once the shopping impulse fades.
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.
“Sleeping on it” for a few hours (or even days) may give you some necessary psychological distance from the urge to buy.
7. The 30 Day Rule
The 30 Day Rule is like “sleeping on it” on steroids. 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.
💡 Quick Tip: Are you paying pointless bank fees? Open a checking account with no fees and avoid monthly charges (and likely earn a higher rate, too).
4 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. 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 dynamic can be a major step towards stopping this kind of overspending.
4. 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.
💡 Quick Tip: If you’re creating a budget, try the 50/30/20 budget rule. Allocate 50% of your after-tax income to the “needs” of life, like living expenses and debt. Spend 30% on wants, and then save the remaining 20% towards saving for your long-term goals.
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 money dysmorphia?
Money dysmorphia or money disorder refers to a psychological disorder in which a person is preoccupied with money, spending it, and one’s financial status. It can trigger feelings of anxiety and inadequacy.
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.
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