Spending money is an inevitable part of life, annoyingly. It’s perfectly normal to need to spend every single day on the necessities: travel, food, rent, utility bills, and so on. However, if your life revolves around your spending and you find yourself struggling to cover the basics because you’ve spent too much on other things, then you may have a problem.
A spending addiction can come in many variations and for many different reasons. It may not always be easy to recognize, but even taking baby steps in efforts to recognize and fix your habit is very important. Remember that it’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of – many people struggle with compulsive spending and have no idea!
There is always still time to take control and stop spending money before it gets any worse. We understand that such problems can be difficult and tiring to maintain, so we’re here to help you with this guide. Keep reading and we can assist you in not only identifying your problem but overcoming it in a healthy manner!
How to identify a spending problem
Knowing the difference between a spending problem and a tendency to enjoy yourself a little on a shopping spree or during a dinner with your friends can be tricky. However, there is a real difference and it is important to spot all of the signs before it becomes serious.
A problem will mean more than the odd splurge and will definitely be more damaging to your bank account. Figuring out why you overspend is really important as it is the first step towards changing those habits and figuring out a more healthy coping mechanism than shopping.
If you think you are having financial problems and you leave them unchecked, there is a very real risk that you could end up in a lot of debt and struggle to cover you basic needs.
Everyone has their different ways of coping when they feel emotional. Some cry it all out, some comfort-eat, some distract themselves with family or a friend, and some spend. It’s nothing to feel guilty about, but it is important to kick the habit before it becomes uncontrollable.
Emotional spending can be defined as the act of purchasing things based on your emotions and how you’re feeling, rather than out of necessity or after consideration. For example, if you’ve had a bad day and find yourself ignoring the budget and purchasing unnecessary items, then this could be a sign that you’re an emotional spender.
Your thought process may be to make purchases to distract yourself from feeling negative emotions such as loneliness or upset, but when the happiness that your new item brings wears off, you’re quickly looking for something else to purchase to make yourself feel better. Emotional spending is often a symptom of a bigger problem at hand – perhaps there is something deeper or more serious happening that you need to face up to and address.
If the numbers in your bank account are dwindling by the day and you just can’t figure out why then you may be an unconscious shopper. In the world we live in, it’s incredibly easy to spend money without even realizing it. With a quick swipe or tap, purchases can be made without us even knowing. Don’t blame yourself too much for this; it’s very difficult to quantify just how much you’re spending when everything is so digitalized!
An unconscious spending problem can also develop if you find yourself susceptible to online deals, whether this is found through advertising, email subscriptions, or a post that you see on Instagram. The debt can rack up totally unconsciously if you make purchases that you think are great deals when in reality they are simply a waste of money.
Using a phone or credit card to pay for things also makes you more likely to spend more than you normally would and could lead to debt without you being aware. The money barely even feels real, so why not add a muffin to your coffee order? Seemingly small extra spends like this add up, and without you even noticing, you may have developed an unconscious spending problem.
Less money for essential items
If you feel like you have no cash for the things you need, or find yourself compromising on the necessities in order to still be able to buy that new games console or pair of shoes, then this is an indicator that you have a problem. Often those who struggle with spending will struggle to find the money to meet their basic needs but will be able to blow money on extravagant or unnecessary things.
Many people who struggle in this manner tend to live paycheck to paycheck, usually wasting all of the money that they’ve earned within days of receiving it. Of course, this leads to not only a lack of money in the present, but a lack of savings for the future. This is why it’s important to regain control over your finances before your future self has to pay the consequences.
There are many amazing aspects of social media: at the touch of a button, we can reconnect with old friends, meet new ones, keep in touch with what’s happening in any part of the world, and so much more. However, there are downsides as well, and shopping addictions are definitely one of these.
There is a tendency on the internet to post the parts of yourself that you want others to see, which can lead to various problems, one of which being overspending. If we are constantly bombarded with images of lavish holidays, luxury cars and shoes, expensive meals, and cocktails, we are going to begin to desire that. This peer pressure can lead to an impulse shopping problem and eventually real financial problems such as credit card debt.
Not only this, but it is all online nowadays, and where we see the most advertisements. Looking at something you want online will often lead to receiving adverts for that exact thing for days afterward. All of us are susceptible to the right advertising, but we have to also be careful not to purchase every item that a sponsored post offers us.
5 Ways to Overcome a Spending Problem
These are just some of the methods that you can use to overcome your problem that we thought could be most effective in keeping yourself on track long-term! It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive and that if you think you may have a serious addiction then we recommend speaking to a mental health professional.
1) Only take out the money that you need with you
This is probably the most foolproof way to cut back on your spending. If you carry a certain amount of cash with you and set a strict budget, it will be virtually impossible for you to indulge in any impulse spending.
However, many places are going cashless, or you may need to use credit cards for something, so if this is the case then try to put a limit on your spending. Many banks allow you to cut yourself off after a certain amount is spent. For example, if you give yourself a daily limit of $30 and try to buy something over this amount, your purchase will be declined. Potentially embarrassing maybe, but also very necessary if you’re trying to save money.
2) Tell your family and friends
Telling family and friends that you’re having money issues can seem daunting and shameful, but remember that it’s totally normal and that doing this could be a major step in curbing your addiction.
If the people close to you know that you’re trying to stop overspending, this means that they’ll be more sensitive to your triggers and avoid doing things with you which involves a lot of spending. Don’t feel shy or scared about telling people: a true friend will make an effort to understand you and want to help you. There’s no need to go into details about your problem if you don’t want to, you can simply let them know that you’re trying to save your cash and would rather meet in a park or someone’s house instead of the mall!
3) Remember your goals
The first step towards remembering your goals is by creating and visualizing them. We recommend writing down exactly what you want out of life, and how you’re going to get there. This includes your financial dreams and ambitions.
Once you’ve done this, make sure to think about what it is that you’re aspiring to every time you go to splurge unnecessarily on something. Will you be able to buy that dream house, throw the wedding you’ve been planning for years, take your spouse on their dream vacation? Redirect your energies into saving for what you really want and stick to the budget! Some top tips for how to save include budgeting or creating a spending plan, opening a savings account or having someone close to you monitor your finances.
Remembering and visualizing your goals will help you keep on track with your finances and make it all worth it, trust us.
4) Know your weaknesses
Everyone’s weaknesses are different: some spend too much money on clothes and shoes, whilst others may have a weak spot for fancy food and drink. Whatever it is, identifying and being aware of your weakness can be a big help along the way to stop spending money.
Once you know what your weaknesses are, the next stage is to avoid them whenever you can. This means spending less time scouring the internet for the latest deals, not going to the mall if it’s a weak spot for you, and so on. Again, tell a friend or your family of your weaknesses so that they can help you keep on track.
A good method to use once you’ve identified your weaknesses is to write a checklist which you can use before you buy anything. For example, your checklist may include points such as:
- Is my income steady enough to purchase this item?
- Is this a planned purchase?
- How often will I use this item?
- Do I already have an item similar to this?
Only if the item you want ticks off all the points on your checklist can you buy it! It takes some willpower to use this method effectively, but it can be well worth it.
5) Understand the consequences
Knowing the severity of your actions can have a very sobering impact on you and become an effective tool in kicking your spending habits. If you create a budget and set out your financial goals, you’ll be able to see the money you have to spend and what the consequences of overspending can mean.
The consequences of your actions could mean that you don’t have enough money in your checking account to make rent, or you’re not on track to meet your financial goals, or that you can’t pay off the debt that you owe. Whatever the consequences are, the likelihood is that they aren’t pretty. Mull this over and remember the fact that a spending problem can have very serious implications.
How do I know when my spending is becoming a problem?
It can be difficult to judge when your spending has gone from a bit of fun to an actual problem. We’ve included a list of identifiers at the top of this guide for you to look over, and if the majority of them resonate with you then there is a possibility that your spending has become an issue.
The most obvious way to know is by looking through your finances and seeing how much money you spend, and what you spend it on. If you have a spending problem then you likely have debt racking up, multiple credit cards, or a lot of money disappearing due to online shopping. Confronting your situation head-on can be daunting, but it is the most effective way of seeing exactly where your problem is coming from, and will be a big step towards your goal to stop spending money!
Is spending money an addiction?
Spending money is not necessarily an addiction in itself. Everyone spends money and everyone enjoys doing so at certain times! It becomes a problem when you develop compulsive or dependent spending habits.
The good news is, if you follow our tips and sort out your expenses, then there is no reason why you cannot still treat yourself or spend money every now and again on something you really want. This is perfectly natural and can be a good way to reward yourself for hard work. To get to this stage, however, you need to remove the addictive element from your spending habits. Retail therapy is one thing, but making purchases compulsively or irrationally will leave you with definite regret in the long-run, and possible debt to pay off!
How do I get my spending under control?
We’ve put together a list of our top tips and tricks to help you get your spending under control in this guide so that you can plan out how you’re going to stop overspending. It may not always be easy, and slip-ups are bound to happen, but as long as you remember what you’re working towards it’s definitely possible!
Curbing your spending can be as simple as writing a list before going shopping or to the grocery store to stop yourself buying something from every aisle, or it could be more complex and require professional help alongside the advice we’ve shared. Regardless, there are so many ways that you can help yourself and none of these ways mean that you can’t still enjoy life and spend money when it’s needed – we believe in you!