Are you overspending?
Spending more than you earn each month can result in a stressful debt spiral, impacting every aspect of your life, from your relationships to your mental health.
While splurging on a new dress there, or a cappuccino here might seem harmless, it all adds up and can quickly take you out of the black and into the red.
Here CashLady looks at three simple ideas to help you take control of your finances and stop overspending.
Are you in debt from overspending?
If you’re in debt, then there’s a high chance that you’re regularly overspending.
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis advises asking yourself where your debts have come from to help establish whether your spending is a problem.
He says, “If you didn’t buy, for example, a car or a conservatory, but you’ve used cards or loans to fill gaps, an ear-piercing alarm should ring.”
Planned out rational debt that you can afford is acceptable and for many of us is the only way that we can purchase high-value goods, such as a car or a home.
If, however, you find that come to the end of the month you’re having to put your food shopping or petrol on your credit card, then you might have an overspending problem.
How to stop overspending, now
If you find yourself overspending, then you’re not alone.
Many of us start the month with great intentions to save money and spend wisely but for one reason or another, spend more than we intended.
Key to preventing this overspend is identifying why we spend too much.
This could be simply because we haven’t properly calculated our income and how much we have to pay out each month, or maybe we have fallen into a shopping habit when we’re feeling low.
Below we look at three ways to help curb your overspending for good.
#1 Creating a budget
They say that knowledge is power – so stop your overspending by figuring out exactly how much money you have each month to play with.
Use a simple spreadsheet or many of the free online budgeting tools that will help you calculate exactly how much money you have coming in each month and how much you have going out.
Your budget will include everything from essentials, like rent, food and petrol, to ‘non-essentials’ such as money for socialising and clothes.
Keep a track of everything that you spend one month to help you get started – you might be surprised at what you find, such as how much those lunchtime meal deals really add up.
#2 Understanding your overspending triggers
Key to stopping overspending is identifying patterns and figuring out why you spend in the first place.
Try keeping a spending journal for a month and chart how you are feeling and what times you are spending money.
You might find that you’re spending more than you planned on nights out, or that you’re reaching for expensive takeaways when you’re too tired to cook after a long day at work.
Once you identify your spending patterns you can put contingency plans in place. For example, prepping meals for the week in advance, or taking a certain of amount of cash out on nights out and when it’s gone, it’s time to stop spending.
#3 Forgetting about your credit cards
If you’re prone to overspending, then the lure of the credit cards sitting in your wallet, or saved in your online shopping account, might be too much.
A major problem with credit cards is how easily you can overspend – when handing over your plastic to make a purchase you’re probably unaware of how much it will add up to when the monthly statement rolls around.
Using cash, you can physically see how much you are spending and how much you have left out of your allocated budget. Crucially, you are forced to only spend what you have.
If you can then remove the credit cards from your wallet and delete the details from your online shopping accounts – you might even benefit from cutting up your cards or hiding them away for emergency use only, just like you would try to avoid taking costly loans when you have bad credit.
Cash will also help boost your creativity – if you find that you don’t have enough to go out for dinner with your friends then you might arrange a pot luck supper at home instead of sticking it on plastic and accruing more debt.