We all know the feeling of buyer’s remorse. You see something you just have to have, and before you know it, you’re shelling out way more money than you ever intended to. Whether it’s a new pair of shoes or a fancy gadget, overspending can quickly become a habit – one that can be tough to break.
If you’re sick of feeling the pinch every time you make a purchase, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In fact, overspending is one of the most common financial problems people face. But the good news is, there are ways to avoid it.
Here are a few of the best strategies to avoid overspending
1. Make a budget – and stick to it.
One of the best ways to avoid overspending is to set a budget for yourself – and then make sure you stick to it. Decide how much money you can realistically afford to spend each month, and then track your spending to make sure you stay within that limit.
Pro-tip: start by categorize your spending in an app, right from your phone. This increases your mental accounting and keeps your purchases at your fingertips.
2. Identify your triggers.
Overspending often happens impulsively – we see something we want and we buy it without giving it much thought. But if you can take a step back and identify what triggers your impulse spending, you can be better prepared to avoid it in the future. Maybe you tend to overspend when you’re bored, or when you’re feeling down. Or maybe there’s a certain type of purchase that always seems to trip you up (for me, it’s an unplanned trip to a drive thru after a stressful). Whatever your triggers may be, recognizing them is the first step to avoiding them.
If you’re struggling with impulse spending, one of the best things you can do is give yourself a cooling-off period before making any major purchases. Tell yourself you’ll sleep on it for a night, or wait a week, before buying anything. This will give you time to really think about whether you need or even want the item, and it can help you avoid spending money on things you’ll regret later.
4. Shop with cash.
If you have a hard time sticking to a budget, try shopping with cash instead of using your debit or credit card. When you’re carrying around physical cash, you’re more likely to be aware of how much you’re spending – and less likely to impulse buy.
5. Use discounts and coupons.
Everyone loves a good deal, so take advantage of discounts and coupons whenever you can.* This can help you save money on the things you need, which means you’ll have more money to put towards your savings or other financial goals. And who doesn’t love that?
*Just keep in mind that you may feel pressured to buy if you see deals. This is all about knowing your triggers. (See number 2.)
6. Avoid temptation.
If there are certain stores or websites that always seem to tempt you to spend more than you should, do your best to avoid them. Unsubscribe from promotional emails, delete any unwanted apps, and take whatever other steps you need to in order to make it easier to stick to your budget. (See number 2.)
Pro-tip: when you struggle with avoiding temptation, try practicing money mindfulness. Studies show that it not only helps financial outcomes, but it also has positive effects on mental health and holistic wellbeing.
7. Stay focused on your goals.
Whenever you’re feeling tempted to overspend, remind yourself of your financial goals. Whether you’re saving for a down payment on a house, or you’re trying to get out of debt, keeping your goals top of mind can help you resist the urge to spend unnecessarily.
8. Find cheaper alternatives.
If there’s something you really want, but it’s outside of your budget, see if there’s a cheaper alternative you can purchase instead. For example, if you’re dying to buy a designer handbag, see if you can find a similar style for a fraction of the price at a discount store. Or if you’re craving a fancy dinner out, try cooking something similar at home. With a little creativity, you can often find ways to get what you want without breaking the bank.
9. Delay gratification.
If you’re having a hard time resisting the urge to spend, try delaying gratification for a little while. Tell yourself you can have the item you want, but only after you’ve saved up for it or waited a certain amount of time. This will help you avoid impulse purchases, and it can also help you appreciate the things you have more.
If you’re struggling to get your spending under control, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A financial advisor or therapist can assist you in developing healthy spending habits and reaching your financial goals. You can also check out these online mental health resources.
Avoiding overspending doesn’t have to be difficult. By being aware of your triggers, setting a budget, and using other strategies, you can keep your spending in check and reach your financial goals. So what are you waiting for? Start saving today!