Overspending and How to Stop

Why do we buy so much stuff? Even though we realise how much time it takes to earn the money we have, and how precious our time is, we still go on to spend our hard-earned cash on stuff we often don’t need.
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Most of us have been over consuming and overspending for so long it’s become a habit, a pattern of behavior that’s automatic. On the occasion we pause to consider our purchase most of us manage to convince ourselves of a need, and if we don’t establish one, we make the purchase anyway for in that instance it makes us feel good.

The psychologist would suggest that it basically comes down to emotions and that buying is an attempt to get back to the way a past purchase made us feel, or we simply spend to mask a feeling. It’s obviously a little more complex…but you get my drift.

We may fall foul of the “Diderot Effect” (named after the founder and philosopher Denis Diderot), which states that in obtaining a new possession we can often create a spiral of consumption(as the new possession can make our older belongings look a little shabby). This leads us to acquire more new things to replace the older items, even though there was no real need for their replacement.

For instance, if you think of the stuff we often want, these are normally associated with being the kind of person that we believe we are, and often our refence groups are the people we identify with or compare ourselves to. This is ok if we have a more modest reference group as we’ll spend less allowing us to save more, but if our chosen reference group is wealthier, it could all end in tears.

Then there’s the economist who might suggest that the more we spend, the better it’s for everyone, assuming goods and services improve societal wellbeing. They may be more direct and remind us of the importance of spending in a growth centred economy. This concept would be a great idea if we lived in a world of magically disappearing trash and societal equality, and of course if the price of stuff was well within our means.

But we don’t. Unfortunately we live in a world of increasing inequality where over production is trashing the planet and most people are spending money they don’t have just to keep up. Even governments are burying themselves and their countrymen in debt and we all know the only debt that’s ok is the debt we can afford.

There are so many benefits to reducing our consumption and overspending, both globally and personally. However, changing and maintaining our patterns of behaviour is often easier said than done, especially if your habit happens to be overspending, as most of us keep the marketplace about our person. Our phones allow us to purchase pretty much anything at any time.

The human tendency to scratch an itch is made ever more convenient by ease of access. So whatever your spending motivations are, be they social, psychological, philosophical or a combination of all three, following the tips might just stop you in your tracks.

If you know you need to make changes, and you want to reduce your spending and consumption, here’s 7 useful tricks that will help you stop spending money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need.

7 Useful Tricks to Help You Stop Spending

If you’ve got this far then ‘Big Up’! to you. The fact that you recognize your spending is a problem is a major accomplishment and a massive first step.

1. Make a Budget

It doesn’t have to be complex and it’s easier than you think you could download our free budget planner below or use a budgeting app. Some online banks offer this service within their banking app. It will help you send your money where you need it to go. It’s also helpful if you want to maintain your new improved spending habits.

2. Find Your Why

This helps you find the willpower required to continually spend less and maintain your new spending patterns. Do some soul-searching to find your bigger reason to spend less and save more. What would help you focus your mind?

Your motivation for saving may be a bigger purchase like a holiday, a car, or the deposit for a mortgage. You may be building an emergency fund or just saving for an early or better retirement. Whatever your motive, having a plan can be really helpful.

3. Wants and Needs

Establish the difference between your wants and needs. Separate them in terms of your spending. Spend your ready cash on essential things like bills, food and rent, and encourage yourself save for the things you want – the non-essentials. Buying non-essentials in this way stops you using credit and acquiring unnecessary debt.

It also works like a cooling off period giving you time to establish whether you really need a particular item in your life, or if you’d rather have the money you’ve saved. It can reduce ‘fad’ buying and wasting your cash on the stuff that gets used a couple of times then ends up collecting dust in the back of a cupboard.

4. Stick to a Shopping List

Whether you’re out and about or shopping online, shop with purpose. Make a list of the items you need and stick to it. Don’t spend time aimlessly browsing or you’ll end up buying something you don’t really need. The temptation to spend lurks everywhere, so unless you’ve got immense self-control, avoid aimless browsing it when you can.

5. Food & Drink

Alter the way you spend money on food and beverages. We all need to eat, but with a little tweak here and there it doesn’t have to cost us so much. Reducing your take aways or eating out can not only free up cash, but it’s often healthier to make your own meals. If you don’t know how, take the opportunity to learn a new skill.

There’s so much free self-help cooking content online, and the meals don’t have to be complex. ‘One pot’ cooking meals like soup, stews and bolognaise are tasty and pretty easy to put together. These meals can even be frozen and eaten at a later date (so great for a packed lunch or the evenings you have to work late). But remember, when you’re grocery shopping, shop with intent. Work from a list and stick to the ingredients you need, food shopping doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Stop buying expensive coffees to go and bottled water. Invest in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. Its eco-friendly and if you choose your vessel carefully, they’ll keep your drink at the optimal temperature for longer…bonus! There really is no shame in supplying your own.

6. Don’t Throw Money at Problems

Stop trying to solve manageable problems with new products. Do you really need the latest exercise machine or program to get fit? There are so many free apps and free content online. If that’s not your thing, then walking and running are excellent forms of exercise and they’re also free. Is it essential that you buy the phone stand you were going to buy, couldn’t you improvise and lean it against a pillow on your knee or an object on a table…. you get what I mean.

7. Think of Every Purchase as Hours at Work

In moments of weakness, and there will be some, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just take a minute and think of every purchase price and how many hours you’d have to work to pay for the item, especially if you’re going to use credit and create debt. Its always worked for me, as much as I loved my job, the thought of having less freedom and working more hours was often enough to change my perspective on a purchase.

I hope you find these tips helpful, good luck and thanks for reading.

We welcome your feedback, if you found this article useful, please let us know. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll try our best to help.

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