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5 Overspending Triggers (and How to Beat Them)

It happens to everyone at one time or another. Despite your best efforts to stay within your budget, you find yourself spending far more than you planned. And it’s often on things you don’t need or really want. If you’re wondering why that happens learn about 5 common overspending triggers and how to overcome them.

You’re Feeling Bored or Lonely — For many, emotional spending is one of the most common overspending triggers. And there’s a good reason for it. Making a purchase can temporarily dull those negative feelings and gives a rush of endorphins that feels good in the moment. However, those good feelings are will disappear once the reality of the spending spree kicks in.     Two female friends enjoying a cup of coffee and conversation

How to Overcome — Recognize and honor those feelings of blues, boredom, or loneliness for what they are (we ALL have them!). Instead of spending money to dull those feelings, reach out to a friend for a text (or actual) conversation. You can also read a book, watch a movie, start a project you can finish quickly that will give you a feeling of accomplishment (like cleaning out a drawer), or get some light exercise. All those activities release the same feel-good brain chemicals as shopping, and don’t cost you anything.

You’re on Vacation — When you’re on vacation, anything goes and the regular rules don’t apply. That makes it way too easy to spend money on things you normally wouldn’t buy. But remember, vacation is temporary and running up credit cards bills on overpriced souvenirs is going to feel like a bad decision by the time you get home.

How to Overcome — Set a spending limit for shopping or souvenirs and stick to it. Take only one credit card along for emergencies and leave it in the room safe or in the hotel safe; don’t carry it with you (place it in a sealed, padded envelope to avoid tampering). Find a local grocery store and stock your hotel room with snacks and drinks to avoid mini bar prices.

You Have to Buy a Gift — Whether shopping for birthdays, baby showers, weddings or other occasions, it’s easy to spend more than you planned on gifts. But remember, like your mom always said, it’s the thought that counts. Anyone who cares about you is going to care more about the gesture than the gift itself.

How to Overcome — Waiting until the last minute is a sure-fire way to spend too much on an ill-advised impulse buy. Plan ahead and buy gifts throughout the year; then put them away for later use. For weddings and other big occasions, see if you can contribute toward a group gift.

You Get Unexpected Cash — Work bonus. Overtime pay. Tax refund. Birthday cash. You weren’t expecting that money anyway, so it’s free game, right? Wrong! It’s certainly tempting to blow this so-called found money, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. Why not make it work for you instead?

How to Overcome — Allow yourself one small splurge, then put the rest of the money to work. Use it to make a larger payment on a credit card bill, make an extra student loan or mortgage payment, or to start or fatten up your emergency fund.

You Found a Great Deal — It’s so tempting to get sucked in by one-day deals and limited quantities; especially now when those deals are as close as your phone and making a purchase involves just a few taps. But we can’t say it enough: no matter how great a deal you think you’re getting, if you don’t really need it, it’s not a bargain.

How to Overcome — Remove yourself from retailers’ email lists and shopping apps to avoid the temptation of daily deals. Avoid browsing (in-store or online) when you have nothing else to do; find another activity instead.

If these overspending triggers have left you with mounting credit card debt, we can help. Credit Counseling is the first step to help you begin taking control of your finances.

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