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All of us are guilty of overspending at some point or another — whether a special sale convinces us to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase or small instances of extravagance add up over the course of the month, laughing in the face of even the most well-intentioned budgets. But the truth is this habit can become a problem if left unchecked over time.
As CNBC reports, consumers budget for approximately $197 per week in spending — not including utilities, bills, rent/mortgage, etc. However, the amount people spend on average is closer to $340. The discrepancy here adds up to a whopping $7,400 per year in extra expenditures.
In other words, it’s totally normal to find yourself wanting or needing to change your spending habits over time.
Here are four tips for doing so
Create a Realistic Spending Plan
We just acknowledged the fact there’s often a difference between people’s budgets and their behaviors. One reason this may be is budgets can feel constricting, which can actually motivate people to exceed their intended spending by category or even trash their budget altogether after a spending slip-up.
Instead, consider the benefits of creating a personal spending plan reflective of your actual spending behaviors to get closer to your financial goals.
You must first understand your spending in order to change it. Taking the time to log every penny spent over the course of a month will help you discern your habits and choose areas ripe for improvement.
Set Specific, Motivational Savings Goals
Financial goal setting goes hand in hand with creating a spending plan. Your money goals exist to remind you why you’re trying to take control of your finances. Rather than thinking about saving more as something you should do, think about it as something you can do to realize a goal. The most effective objectives are specific, time-bound and achievable. They should also be written down somewhere you can revisit them regularly.
Pay Off Your Credit Cards Each Month
For all the perks and points using a credit card can bring, studies have shown people tend to spend more when paying with credit than with cash.
There’s the convenience factor, as well as the fact that the “pain” of having to pay is delayed when using credit compared to debit or cash. When you add high average interest rates into the mix, you can see why credit card debt is both dangerous and difficult to escape. Consider the thousands of people who have even had to enter a debt settlement program to get a handle on it, as illustrated by these Freedom Debt Relief reviews.
One smart tactic to avoid overspending is charging only what you can afford to pay in full each month. This way you can earn the rewards, while avoiding mounting interest charges and possible account delinquency.
Identify Your Spending Triggers
Everyone spends money for different reasons. Identifying your spending triggers can help you notice and resist them.
Here are a few examples from one personal finance expert for HuffPost:
- Fear of missing out: You see others spending money and feel compelled to do the same.
- Fear of losing out on a deal: You end up spending money to “save” money.
- Retail therapy: You spend seeking out an emotional boost.
- Being alone: You notice you’re lonely or restless so you do lots of social shopping.
The good news is you don’t need to change all your spending habits overnight. You can work on them over time using these four tips.