How To Stop Overspending: 3 Steps To Curbing The Habit
Overspending is the biggest culprit when it comes to derailed budgets and unaccomplished financial goals.
As you probably know, overspending is when you spend more than you earn, and in many cases find yourself in the red or in "the hole" each month.
The act of overspending is very much behavioral and ties into self discipline (or a lack thereof) and until you can get your overspending under control, it can be a struggle to save money, pay off debt, invest and have peace of mind about your finances. So what can you do if you find yourself consistently overspending?
Below are 3 steps to help you curb your overspending habit
Step 1: Know your why
When you set a new goal - for instance to stop overspending - you need to have a reason you want to change or in other words, a WHY. Having this reason in place, is one of the things that is going to keep you motivated (in addition to working on your self discipline and building new habits). Your why could be your children, buying a house, moving to a different city - whatever that thing is that you dream of, or want to look back and be proud of.
Take photos of it, save it on your phone, set calendar reminders - basically you want to make sure your WHY is always in focus in your everyday life.
Step 2: Identify your triggers
Once you've identified your reason for change, the next thing you want to do is determine what causes you to overspend. Do you find you are overspending when you hang around certain people, when you see what people post on Instagram, when you drive by the mall etc.
Once you are to figure out what your spending triggers are, then it's time to address them. This could mean spending less time with the people that you find yourself spending the most money around, unfollowing people on Instagram, taking a different route so you don't have to drive by the mall all the time etc.
Identifying and addressing your triggers especially in the early stages of you working on your overspending habit will help you stay on you on track.
Step 3: Create a budget & go on cash or debit card diet
Having a budget is how you track your income and expenses (Learn how to create one HERE). And once you are able to track your income and expenses, then you'll know how much you have left over to spend/save. A good idea is to track your current spending for 30 days to see exactly where your money is going and determine what you need to cut out.
Once you are able to track your expenses for 30 days, you will very likely find areas of unnecessary spending (e.g. eating out, daily coffees, shopping, unused gym memberships, subscriptions etc) that you can cut back on or cut our completely.
If you find that a lot of your overspending is unavoidable and you cannot cut it out right away for example you are tied into a lease and have to pay rent etc, then you want to start thinking of how you can increase your income - do you need find a better paying job, a part time job or even start side hustle to bring more money in.
Next consider ditching your credit cards and going on cash / debit card diet where you designate a fixed amount of money that you can spend every week or month and when it runs out you are done spending until the next month.
Like I mentioned in the intro to this post, overspending can severely impact your financial goals and the last thing you want is to look back in regret at the amount of money you could have saved but didn't because of your poor spending habits. If you struggle with overspending, challenge yourself to work on changing this habit starting now.
Determine, your WHY and your triggers, create a budget and try your best to stick to it each month. You might have slip-ups - which is normal - but as long as you stay committed and keep making progress, you can turn your overspending habit around!
Bola Sokunbi is the founder of Clever Girl Finance and she's passionate about helping women take control of their money so they can live life on their own terms.