If you’ve ever fallen into the habit of overspending, you’re not alone. Statistics show that more than 50% of Americans are spending beyond their budget, which often keeps them from achieving their financial goals. What’s more, the pandemic has likely exacerbated the issue—more people are at home, and with nowhere to go, online shopping can provide a rush of dopamine. What’s more, some people simply aren’t earning enough to maintain their pre-pandemic lifestyles, after job closures and furloughs.
We’ve compiled a list of ideas to help you curb your spending and possibly stash away some money in your savings account in the process.
How Does Overspending Happen?
Overspending isn’t just a credit card issue—there are plenty of sneaky ways that overspending occurs. While credit cards can be a major source of overspending, the funds often come from savings accounts, loans, and paycheck advances.
Interest accumulates rapidly, or you’re always advancing your paycheck, and it can be hard to feel like you’re caught up. Or sometimes, that rush of endorphin when you make an online purchase and receive a package can become addicting. Whether you feel like you’re behind, or you’re trying to fix a bad habit, we’re here to help.
6 Tips to Stop Overspending
1. Opt-Out of Personal Advertisements
Over the years, social media has become more and more saturated with ads and sponsorships. What you may not know is that your Google history plays a big part in what you see. Depending on your search history, the advertisements shown to you will change, so you’re more likely to see products you’re likely to buy.
While this can be handy, it doesn’t help if you’re trying to curb your spending. One way you can mitigate this is to turn off personal ads through Google. By doing so, you’ll also be removing personalized ads on all 2 million websites that Google provides this data to. You’ll still see ads, but they’re less likely to be tailored to your personal shopping habits.
2. Have a Shopping Plan
If you’ve ever gone grocery shopping hungry, or without a list, you know how easy it is to spend an extra $50-$100 on food. If you have a large family, that might be even more. To save that extra cash, it’s important to have a plan of attack for your grocery shopping. First and foremost, know what you’re going to eat before you shop, so you can buy only the ingredients needed. Add in snacks or other treats you eat often and then stick to your list.
Next, don’t go shopping hungry. Try to schedule your shopping trip after a meal time, or eat a snack before going in. You’d be surprised how grocery shopping on a full stomach can save you from impulse buying things that sound good when you’re hungry. Lastly, try to shop alone, if possible. Bringing a roommate, partner, or child with you can often increase your spending because of their own impulses. An extra person or two makes it difficult to stick to your list, and they may even enable you to purchase things you don’t necessarily need.
3. Price Compare
If you make frequent purchases of one item, or are planning to make a single purchase of a large item, don’t forget to compare prices. A quick internet search can often help you save a few bucks here or there, which really adds up over time. On larger purchases, you may even find rebates or sales.
On smaller everyday items, consider where you can get the best overall prices in your area. You may find it takes one or two stores to do your necessary shopping, however you could save big in the long run.
4. Don’t Buy Just Because of a Sale
While sales can be a great way to buy something you were already planning to purchase, they can also be a license to spend money over your budget. A rule of thumb for avoiding sales is to keep them “out of sight.” Namely, unsubscribing to emails or texts from retail stores that are a temptation for you. That way, the sales aren’t even on your radar. Then, of course, when you are in the market for something new, you need only look for it (and can use the above tip).
5. Find a Side Hustle
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, a side gig can help you meet your budget and even save some money. This extra cash can help you pay down credit cards and loans, stop paying interest on paycheck advances, and get back into a savings habit. What you don’t want to happen is to use all your extra cash on reinforcing overspending habits.
6. Make a Budget
Lastly, it’s important that you know what money you have, so that you know what you can spend. Write down all your bills and expenses and determine how much you’re overspending each month or use an online tool like Thinkflow. Eliminate as many purchases that are not mandatory as possible—particularly subscriptions that you no longer use or no longer need. If your income doesn’t match your expenses, identify how much more money you need to make, or how much spending you need to reduce.
Do your best to stick to this budget so that you have money leftover at the end of the month. Revisit your budget every few months and don’t forget to throw yourself a treat every once in a while (like budgeting for one “fun” purchase a month).
No More Overspending
It’s hard to stop overspending, and it’s not always fun either. Especially in time of crisis, spending can be comforting–despite the added stress to make ends meet. As you work to curb your spending, don’t forget to reward yourself in non-monetary ways for doing the hard work! We hope with these tips, you’ll find the confidence to start new habits and get your spending under control.
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