How Can I Spend Less Money?
This is a frequent topic of conversation with friends. They think it is as simple as cutting a cable bill or cancelling a gym membership. But these casual conversations rarely venture into why someone might overspend. Getting to the root of overspending, especially for anyone who is earning a decent income, can be challenging.
So, today I am sharing a laundry list of behaviors that might hit a nerve. It is intended for you to reconsider how you are choosing to spend your money.
For those of you who are married, you may see your partner displaying these actions. If that is the case, you may want to consider how you want to approach him or her. For some tips, read our article on how to talk to your partner about money.
Spending Money with Intention or Purpose
Before you spend or commit to a monthly fixed expense, stop for at least a few moments before purchasing. Decide whether you want to commit those dollars to that purchase. In other words, slow down a little. Imagine using the service or products. Is that purchase what you want to spend your money on now or would you rather spend the money on something else?
Spending Money Due to Lack of Planning
Spur of the moment purchases are expenses that can cause catastrophic leaks in your budget. I am proposing that most are not spur-of-the-moment but due to lack of planning. For example, how many times do you start running errands and then realize you are hungry because it’s lunchtime? It’s likely you knew you would not be home in time for lunch, so why don’t you bring food?
Here are other examples that are due to lack of planning:
- We spend on ready-made meals at the supermarket or order takeout because we are in a rush or haven’t planned ahead.
- We spend because we want the next iPhone or tech toy, because it has more features than the one we currently own.
- We spend because we want to feel better or just want the convenience. Why make coffee at home when you can buy it?
- We spend money on leasing a car because we want to drive a new car every three years. We talk ourselves into saying it is more convenient than owning. No maintenance fees and we don’t have to figure out how to dispose of it in three years. Otherwise, we have to pay for maintenance and then after owning it, learn how to sell the car.
- We spend because we deserve a vacation. Never mind that we have not having saved for it. Credit cards will cover the cost. We then carry a balance or add to an outstanding balance.
- We spend because we don’t want our kids to feel deprived. We are too busy or distracted to explain that it’s not about the stuff we have. It’s about having a safe and loving family.
- We spend because we think owning this or that will make us happier. Things don’t matter, as much as experiences do.
- We spend because we are mad at our spouses or partner for spending money or for being away from us or because we think they have a better life than us.
Closing Thoughts on Why We Overspend
I could go on and on with this list. I have heard all kinds of reasons why someone felt justified in spending their money. It is not about having a reason or justification. I am not one to judge anyone’s decisions on how to spend their money. It is more about planning ahead to avoid making last minute financial decisions. We all know that we buy things that we wish we did not. I am fairly disciplined and I have bought things that I have later regretted.
Where have you spent money that you have later regretted? Have you spent money on something and later realized you needed the money for something more important?