6 Ways to Stop Overspending and Save More Money
How to Move Beyond Best Intentions Toward Best PracticesKathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA Wednesday, 08 June 2022
If you want to stop overspending so you can save more money, you’re not alone. Yet even with the best intentions, it’s often not as simple or straightforward as it seems. Avoiding your favorite online stores and not splurging on special items can feel like you’re depriving yourself. When you give in to all of your spending temptations, however, it’s easy to blow your budget and spend more money than you intend to.
If your balance keeps dipping lower than you’d like it to, read on for six strategies that can help you turn things around and meet this important money goal.
1. Track Your Spending
It’s easy to think that a $10 purchase here and a $25 purchase there won’t add up to much, but these little spends can have a much bigger impact once accumulated. To avoid buyer’s remorse, it’s a good idea to get a better handle on where each dollar is going. This can help you make better choices at the moment, find areas where you can cut back, and give you the confidence you need to spend wisely.
When you begin to track expenses, get a sense of the big-ticket items first—any regular withdrawals you know are coming like a car payment, mortgage or rent, insurance, student loans, or other automated deductions. When you know how much money you have leftover, then you can move on to keeping track of the smaller purchases. No matter how insignificant they may seem at first glance, your morning coffee, occasional lunch out, ride-sharing costs, and entertainment expenses can affect your budget in a big way.
Just think of it like this: if you can trim $10 a day from your spending, you could stash away $300 a month! If you do that every month for a year, it amounts to thousands of dollars saved.
2. Know What Triggers You
Saying you want to stop overspending is one thing. Doing it is another. Why? Well, there’s one major roadblock standing in the way. Spending triggers are powerfully emotional and psychological instances that can cause us to fall back into our dysfunctional spending habits. Also called emotional spending or impulse buying, spending money is often a way to cope with or enhance your mood, day, or lifestyle. Being able to identify those triggers is the first step to overcoming them, so let’s dig a little deeper into three common triggers.
Sometimes all it takes to trigger the urge to spend is where the hour hand falls on the clock. As creatures of habit, certain periods of the day are ingrained in our brains as prime shopping times. Think of your morning routine, and the urge you may have to buy a latte and breakfast. Or maybe you like to unwind after work with your favorite shopping apps. Whatever it is that leads to the impulse to spend, identify it. Once you do that, you can recognize it when it comes up and start to de-program the triggers.
It’s called retail therapy for a reason, right? If you’re stressed, anxious, or upset, shopping can be a big mood booster. While it may feel good in the moment, though, it can also lead to significant disappointment when you’re looking at your bank account balance at the end of the month. Instead of making purchases when you’re feeling down, try upping your mood in a different way. Spend time with friends, take a walk outside, or practice free self-care with a meditation app, a nap, or reading a good book.
Finding new ways to cope with feelings of stress and anxiety is helpful, and so is identifying the emotional causes of your spending behavior. Both can help you avoid these impulses in the future.
Living large is a dream for many and a reality for a few, and the desire for it has roots in two places. First, if you’ve had the good fortune to experience a certain way of living growing up, it can be hard to give it up if you’re faced with unexpected financial hardship later on. Second, if you’re falling into the trap of trying to “keep up with the Joneses” based on what you see on social media, it can feel like everyone is spending lots of money and that you should, too. The plain truth in both scenarios is that you need to block out all the reasons you think you need or deserve to spend more money and focus on your current life situation. Get real about your goals and about the bad spending habits you’re falling into, then make a plan for cutting back and living more realistically.
3. Stop Relying on Credit Cards
Credit cards may seem like a good idea, but they make spending almost too easy. At the end of the month, you could find yourself with a hefty bill to pay and little idea of how exactly you got there. Because credit cards rely so heavily on interest rates, if you can’t make your monthly payments because of overspending, you’ll end up accruing even more debt, perpetuating a dangerous cycle.
A good solution is to stop relying on your credit card together. Take out however much money you want to spend in cash at the beginning of the month and set it aside for what you need to buy. It may seem old-school to pay for everything with cash, but it can be one of your best strategies when you’re trying to save more money.
SEE ALSO: Building Your Financial Confidence
4. Save More Money with Goals
Short-term financial goals can help you stay motivated, especially when they’re attainable. These small wins can go a long way and remind you of why you’re dedicated to saving money and how good it can feel.
While big-picture goals like “save more money” are a good mantra, a more specific, quantifiable goal like “I will commit to dining out only four times a week instead of six or more,” can help give you a more concrete target.
5. Make a Plan to Stop Overspending
Making a spending plan is another way to keep your finger firmly on the pulse of your financial activities and goals. First, you have to understand how to budget money. There are several popular methods, but ultimately the right one for you depends entirely on your life, situation, and ultimate goals.
It’s a smart idea to take your budget for a test drive, too. Spend a month using whatever system you choose and see how it feels. Is the process smooth? Does it work for you? If the answer is no, move on to a different budgeting plan. You’ll find one that’s right for you, even if it takes a bit of trial and error.
About the Author
Kathy Longo brings over 25 years of expertise and experience to Flourish Wealth Management. Kathy is wholly dedicated to improving the life of each client and finds joy in making complex matters simple and easy to understand. She excels at asking the right questions, uncovering new possibilities and implementing the most advantageous strategies for success. Playing such a pivotal role in her clients’ lives remains an honor and a privilege. After earning a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling from Purdue University, she began her career at a small firm in Palatine, Illinois where she worked directly with clients while learning to build a viable, client-centric business. Over the years, she gained extensive knowledge and wisdom working as a wealth manager, financial planner, firm manager and business owner at notable, various sized companies in both Chicago and Minneapolis.