“I recommend that you sincerely consider one or two alternatives before entering an environment where you will experience temptation.” (Photo: Getty Images)
The time for confession has come: I was an inveterate waster.
This habit dates back to my early childhood, when I envied people who ate brand name cereal and had refrigerators with ice dispensers in the door. My parents both worked hard, but they barely made ends meet to feed, house and clothe four children with jobs that were just jobs, not careers.
For some people, money represents freedom, opportunity, security, or peace of mind. For me, it was a barrier that prevented me from achieving my goals and dreams. It was the reason why I couldn’t do what I wanted or have the things in life I wanted.
Different people have different responses when growing up in an environment where money is scarce. Some remain diligent stewards and long-term planners, so as to avoid this kind of fate in adulthood.
Others learn to be content with what they have. I became materialistic and concerned with proving that I was “worth” as much as other people who had houses, cars, expensive clothes. I’m not proud of it, but that’s how it happened. I know I’m not the only one.
Through time, study, experimentation, and better self-knowledge, I have replaced self-sabotage with habits of mind and behavior that improve my condition, both financially and psychological. If you’re struggling to control your spending, whether it’s habitual or occasional, I hope the process I’ve tried to outline here can help you make more solid choices that will satisfy your desires without sabotage your financial security.
Four steps to combat overspending
Step One: Overspending is a problem, accept it.
Stop rationalizing and start recognizing your weak points. Are there certain spending areas where you tend to go overboard?
Maybe you get carried away with buying too many Christmas gifts. Maybe you buy an extra glass of wine when you go out to dinner. You might have all kinds of justifications, like “I deserve it!”. Your friends may encourage you to “indulge yourself”. Whatever the trigger, you can’t make changes until you know what to focus on.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
– Think about when you felt bad about spending money or spending too much.
– What were you buying or doing?
– What emotions did you experience just before and just after the act?
This is probably the most difficult step because it requires sincere reflection on yourself. The more honest you are, the more you will be able to identify your true motivations, and make lasting change in your behavior more accessible.
I feel the urge to spend money when I’m bored, or feeling depressed or insecure. If I don’t have a particularly bright perception of myself, I’m tempted to upgrade my wardrobe or my house. Initially, I feel good, but this feeling quickly changes to anxiety and regret. In the long run, overspending is costing me more than it should in terms of peace of mind and self-respect.
The problem is identified, the emotions are named. This is the first step.
Second step: identify your needs.
Learn the language of needs and strategies in financial management. I’ve talked a lot about this topic because it’s fundamental to making changes that are deeply satisfying.
In a nutshell, everything you do with your money is a strategy to meet a basic human need. Needs are universal and apply to everyone, everywhere. They fall into the following three basic categories:
– the survival
– love and possession
– the meaning
Some strategies we use to meet our needs are effective, and some are not. The trick is to find a strategy that is both affordable and rewarding for you as a person.
When you take a strategy-to-needs perspective, you come to analyze the underlying motivation for spending, to open up new possibilities to meet your needs without spending more than you can afford. Use the tips highlighted in the first step to identify precisely the need(s) that these expenses satisfy for you. Next, consider the needs threatened by overspending.
When you’ve learned to think this way, “I need a new suit” becomes “I need to feel confident.” There are many ways to achieve this goal, which do not necessarily require overspending. In fact, irresponsible spending will likely erode your self-esteem in the long run.
Third step: rack your brains to find new strategies.
When one is focused on a specific strategy, one can be myopic in seeing only that option or others like it. When we pay more attention to the need that drives this strategy, a whole host of other possibilities emerge.
Consistent with the clothing example, once confidence and self-expression are identified as the motivation, one can find a strategy to meet those needs and thus reduce or even eliminate expenses.
I remember the first time I left a full shopping cart behind. I looked at the caddy, realized I was driven by negative emotions, and decided not to engage in financial self-sabotage and walk away. I left the shopping cart and my bad habits behind and left. I didn’t put anything back on the shelves. It was a liberating and empowering act, which was more effective in improving my mood than any purchase. I’ve learned that when the urge to sink the budget is rooted in insecurity, I can often respond more effectively to the real need through sleep, reflection, time with friends, or a good workout. exercise, for which I do not spend a single penny.
When completely eliminating expenses is unrealistic, harm reduction can be helpful. Spending less is better than doing nothing.
Here are some examples of harm reduction strategies that might help you limit your expenses:
– a new item of clothing bought on sale can be just as fabulous as another
– Inexpensive gifts made with love are often enjoyed much longer than luxurious gadgets.
– Resisting peer pressure can earn you more social capital than approval.
– the cheapest drink on a menu still buys you a moment of relaxation with your friends.
I recommend that you sincerely consider one or two alternatives before entering an environment where you will experience temptation. The heat of the moment is a terrible time to solve problems. If you feel it’s useful, write down your alternative strategies on a piece of paper to keep in your portfolio. The next time the temptation comes, it will be easier for you to think of alternatives because you will have already thought about them.
Step Four: Try something new.
Overspending is not something we talk about openly; so there won’t be a crowd of people cheering as you avoid the temptations. You will probably have to congratulate yourself. It can be hard, but realize that others are in your situation. Millions of people struggle with overspending and you can be proud that you are changing that.
Some days will be easier than others. If the idea of reverting to excess fills you with despair rather than pride, tear a page from the reformed addict’s handbook and focus on the day today. Can you find spending alternatives just for today? If so, go for it without fear! Tomorrow you can determine if you want to do it again.
Habit changes take time and repetition. One way to solidify a new habit is to immediately reward yourself for doing something new rather than what you’re used to doing. The reward doesn’t have to be big. Put a gold sticker in your calendar or journal for that day, and write down what you did and why you feel proud of it. Something as simple as a, “Well done!” mental might do the trick.
However, be sure to bask in a sense of accomplishment and self-respect for at least a moment each time you resist temptation. This will reinforce your new pattern of behavior.
You will probably experience slippages. No problem. Overcoming this vice is not easy. You will experience victories and setbacks, but progress will come with time, if you persevere.
If I can do it, so can you! And even if you can’t hear me, my most enthusiastic encouragement goes with you!
We would like to thank the author of this post for this remarkable material
Do you have an irresistible urge to sink your budget? Here’s how to overcome your spending habits in four steps.
Discover our social media accounts as well as the other related pageshttps://nimblespirit.com/related-pages/