Do you have a spending problem? Would you know if you did?
If you’re stressed about your finances or don’t know where your money goes, it’s likely you could have a spending problem and not even know it.
Read on for ways you can identify and learn how to stop overspending.
8 Signs You May Be Overspending
1. You Don’t Know Where Your Money Is Going
Do you find yourself at the end of the month wondering where all your money has gone?
Not having a clear understanding of where you’re spending money is a sign that you’re not being deliberate with your spending choices.
Whether you struggle with impulse buying or simply lack a spending plan, if you’re struggling to figure out where your money is going, you may have an overspending habit.
2. You Stress About or Can’t Pay Your Bills
Are you overcome by anxiety when a new bill arrives in your mailbox?
You’re not alone.
A recent study showed 60% of Americans feel anxiety when it comes to paying their bills.
Feeling stressed or helpless about your finances when bills come due may be a sign that you’ve been overspending.
If you don’t know at any given moment whether you can pay off your credit card, you likely have a bad spending habit.
3. You Overdraft Your Checking or Your Credit Cards Get Declined
Trying to spend money you don’t have is pretty much the definition of an overspending habit.
Maxed out credit cards and an empty bank account mean you’re spending beyond your means.
4. You Can Only Cover Your Minimum Payment
Paying the minimum on certain credit cards as part of your debt pay-down strategy is perfectly valid.
But if you’re only paying the minimums because that’s all you can afford, you’ve likely got a spending problem.
5. You Can’t Balance Your Budget
First, if you have a budget, good for you. But if you can’t make it balance, you’re doing it wrong.
Your budget should be a reflection of your plans for the money you have, not money you hope or expect to get.
If it helps, think of a budget as
6. You’re Living on the Credit Card Float
You may think you’re doing just fine since you can pay your credit card bill each month.
But can you pay it in full at any time?
This was a huge epiphany for me.
If you realize that you’re only able to cover the credit card balance once you get paid again, you’re riding the credit card float and spending money you don’t have yet.
Even if you’re not accumulating credit card debt, credit card spending today based on expected income in the future is a recipe for living paycheck to paycheck.
7. Your Splurges Have Become Habits
If you splurge on Starbucks daily, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not a splurge, that’s a bad spending habit.
A splurge is a once in a while thing.
Viewing a habit as a splurge can be a sign you have a problem with impulse spending and don’t even realize it.
8. You Aren’t Worried About Debt Because Everyone Has It
If you think debt is the norm and has simply become a way of life for you, you may or may not have a spending problem, but you definitely have a mindset problem.
Don’t let perceived cultural norms influence your future by keeping you broke and stressed out.
How to Stop Overspending
Did any of the above descriptions resonate with you?
If you’re ready to learn how to stop overspending, here are some tactics to help.
1. Understand Why You Overspend
When you make a purchase do you really understand why you’re spending that money?
Is it simply a budgeted expense like grocery spending, or are you making an impulsive purchase because of some unseen spending triggers you may have (boredom, stress, fatigue, etc.)?
It’s a good idea to look at your expenses and evaluate not just what you’re spending money on but why you’re spending it in the first place.
The two biggest reasons I tend to come up against are YOLO and FOMO: the “you only live once” mindset and the “fear of missing out.”
Recognizing your spending triggers can help you stop them.
2. Set Some Goals
Setting financial goals will help you determine your priorities and keep unplanned impulse spending at bay.
Once you have a goal in place, it’s easier to say no to unnecessary things that will distract you from it.
Setting money goals will help you stay focused and able to stick to your budget.
3. Make a Budget (or Spending Plan)
If you have a problem with bad spending habit, budgeting is probably the last thing you want to do.
It can feel stifling and restrictive.
But if you pair a budget with your financial goal it’s really just a roadmap to help you reach your future goals.
By intentionally specifying what your money is to be used for, you’re taking control of your finances and paving the path to financial freedom.
4. Track Your Spending
To fully take control of your money you need to understand where you’re spending it.
Tracking your spending is not only the best way to determine where you’re spending, but also helps you fine-tune your priorities and start spending accordingly.
A daily Starbucks visit isn’t necessarily a bad spending habit if you’ve intentionally decided that aligns with your priorities.
But if it’s a repetitive impulse purchase, the best way to spot it is by tracking your spending.
5. Try a Cash Diet
It’s possible the temptation to spend is greater than you can manage.
The idea is to set a spending limit for your different budget categories and use only cash or a debit card for those purchases.
Once the money for that category is gone, it’s gone until you get paid again and can replenish your envelopes.
6. Avoid Temptation
Do you find yourself excitedly clicking the newest sales email from your favorite brand when it hits your inbox?
Remove the temptation for unnecessary spending altogether by eliminating it from your inbox. Out of sight, out of mind.
You may miss a sale, but there are plenty of ways to find deals when you’re actually in the market for something.
7. Unfollow the Joneses
Social media has its benefits, but it also tends to breed an attitude of envy and desire.
If you can’t resist swiping up on your favorite Instagrammer’s posts for some impulse shopping, tap the unfollow button instead.
8. Forget Your Credit Cards
Do you store your credit card information in your phone or browser to make checking out easier?
Go into your settings and delete them.
Make the act of purchasing as painful as possible for yourself.
Along those lines, take your cards out of your wallet as well.
You can’t spend on what you don’t have.
9. Try a Money Challenge
Turn your financial goal into a fun game by taking on some money challenges.
Doing a no-spend challenge can be a great way to break the overspending habit.
Gameifying the process helps to keep you motivated and on track.
10. Give Yourself Some Fun Money
Bad spending habits are tough to break, especially with an all or nothing attitude.
Budgeting yourself some extra money to use for whatever you want can help you resist the urge to give up when things feel too restrictive.
Give yourself permission to splurge by adding a fun money category to your monthly budget.
11. Swap Expensive Habits for Cheap Ones
You may identify with the things you buy making it that much tougher to stop.
Whether it’s clothes, books, throw pillows, or something else, we all have things we buy that reinforce our ideas of ourselves.
Instead of trying to change your identity, simply change where you find the things you love.
Start shopping thrift stores, eBay, or Etsy to find alternative and cheaper ways to get what you want.
Also, look for other ways to express yourself and your values that don’t cost any money at all.
12. Use Visual Aids to Remind You of Your Goals (and Progress)
Changing your habits and seeing the impact of your efforts over time can be difficult.
Using a visual reminder helps keep you focused and motivated.
I love using savings trackers to keep me motivated and on track with my money goals.
Check out the Go From Broke shop for a variety of debt and saving trackers.
13. Just Say No to Debt
Make a commitment to yourself that you simply will not accept new debt.
If it’s not an option, it won’t be a problem.
You’ll be amazed at how creative you can get when you reject credit card debt and force yourself to feel some scarcity.
14. Replace Bad Habits With Good Ones
Bad habits can be harmful to your health and your wallet.
A habit as
Examine yourself and look for any bad habits you can drop or good habits you can adopt.
15. Set Spending Rules
Putting some rules in place for yourself can help you ease the urge to overspend.
Try forcing yourself to wait 24 hours before making a purchase.
Separate your wants and needs by adding items that interest you to your wishlist instead of your cart.
Creating rules will help you curb impulse spending while building good spending habits.
16. Create Separate Checking Accounts for Your Bills and Discretionary Money
If your overspending puts you at risk for missing payments, create a separate account you use only for paying bills.
Keeping your spending money separate will prevent you from accidentally using the money you had earmarked for bills.
Take it a step further and automate your bill pay to ensure you never miss a payment again.
17. Automate Your Savings
In addition to automating your bill pay, start automatically deducting money from your paycheck to put toward savings goals.
Specifically, set up an emergency fund and some sinking funds so you can gradually build up your safety net.
By planning for future expenses, you’ll avoid overspending on seemingly unexpected expenses.
For example, if you start a sinking fund for Christmas and automatically save $50 a month, instead of being caught by surprise when the holiday season rolls around, you’ll have a nice sinking fund all set for you to make a Christmas budget.
Take Control of Your Spending Once and For All
Learning how to stop overspending isn’t easy, especially if you aren’t aware you’re doing it.
Becoming intentional with your spending is the key to finally taking control of your money once and for all.