O is for Overspending: Why we do it and how we can control it?

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If you find yourself overspending, you’re not alone. This problem continues to plague many consumers as advertising bombards us with messages that we need “more” to be happier. We need bigger, better and more advanced everything! This message can lead us to excessive spending and living beyond our means.

We all know that living beyond our means will not help us reach financial independence. Impulse buying and over shopping may help satisfy a momentary urge, such as boredom, but it also continually cuts into your budget and hurts your future finances.

The first steps toward a healthy financial future involve becoming aware of the factors driving your spending and learning to fight the urge to overspend. This can promote change in a positive way. Some helpful tips include:

  • Create a budget, and plan and reflect on all purchases. Taking time to ponder a purchase helps clarity and provides delayed gratification. This in turn may alleviate impulse shopping.
  • Make a list and stick to this list while shopping.
  • Keep track of your spending. Writing down everything you buy will help you see what causes you to overspend.
  • Check with your emotional state before a purchase; are you feeling down, bored or did you just have a fight with your significant other? This is not a good time to shop, instead pick up a book, exercise or work on a hobby.
  • Be aware that small purchases add up. $4 every day for coffee cost $120 at the end of one month.
  • Use Cash. When you count out dollar bills, you tend to be more aware of how quickly your money disappears. Sliding your plastic through the credit machine doesn’t provide the same experience.
  • If you must go shopping, only bring what you intend to spend. Leave your credit card at home or in the car, and use cash. Do this for everything from a girl’s day out to buying groceries.
  • Limit Credit Card use to certain categories or only when absolutely necessary.
  • Make a special fund for vacations and set a goal. This can also help provide incentives to cut out the small stuff and provide a big reward.

Just trying a few of these tips would curb overspending, and possibly help give you a new perspective on what you really need. It’s important if you are a frequent over spender to practice a few of these each week. Start out slow. And do what works for you. But you will see what an improvement it can make on your financial life.

If you cannot stop the urge to overspend make an appointment with a financial advisor and get their help putting you on track for financial freedom in your future.

Answers from AZ

About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™).If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw

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