Controlling spending can be one of the most difficult tasks a person will undertake. The temptation is everywhere. From the slick ads on TV, to social media News Feed ads, to those oh so tempting candy bars at the checkout, temptation is everywhere. However once the Reasons for Overspending are addressed, controlling spending will become easier.
Learn to Say “No”. This is something I will need. The dress is too pretty to pass up. You child has been asking for a new toy. Saying “No” seems impossible. But it is not. Learning to say “No” may be the hardest part of controlling overspending. Start by saying “No” to the little things. Maybe you do not get that gourmet cup of coffee every morning. Then keep track of how much money you saved during one week of saying “No.” You will be shocked at the amount of savings. By saying "No” to little purchases, doing the same for bigger purchases will become easier.
Write It Down. One of the easiest ways to control overspending is to be able to see it in writing. One of the easiest, yet overlooked, ways to control overspending is to write down your purchases. Track your spending habits. You can see when and where you are overspending during a month.
Add It Up. After you write down your purchases, add up what you have spent. Does is exceed your income? Are you making purchases that are needs-based? When you begin to track your spending, you will be able to create a budget that works for you. And you can say “NO” easier (see #1).
Pay With Cash. Paying by credit card does not feel real. Charging your purchases becomes an avoidance tactic. Using cash to make purchases makes spending more “real.” Once the cash is gone, it is gone, No overspending if you do not have it on you.
Do You “Need” It Now? There may be an item that you really want to purchase ask yourself, "Do I need it now?” If this is a purchase that is more of a want than a need, you can save for it. Saving for the bigger purchases in life means you can pay for it in cash, and not endanger your financial present or future (see #4).
Get a Budget Buddy. It can be hard to control overspending at times. There are times when it is easier to have someone tell you “No.” Find someone that you can discuss your financial matters with. Let them know what your financial limitations are, and ask them to be your Budget Buddy. This may be a spouse, sibling, or best friend. Choose someone who you trust and can help you along the path of financial responsibility.
Rethink. Revise. Restore. Controlling overspending is about rethinking the way you have been spending in the past. Do you buy things on impulse? Do you need someone to hold you accountable? Is your budget realistic? Do you need to revise it after you have tracked your spending for a while? Once you rethink and revise your spending habits, you will be able to restore your finances and create a bright financial future.
Gina Cannady is the Community Development Coordinator at Legacy Community Federal Credit Union. In that role she offers Legacy’s Insight: LIFE Lessons for Today’s World, a free financial education program for the community. Ms. Cannady is a nationally Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC), awarded by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).