Oftentimes we find ourselves using more money than we intended to when we go shopping. This may occur intentionally or unintentionally. The unintentional part is often unregrettable, and it may occur in instances when there is a sudden price change of the item you intended to buy. On the other hand, the intention part happens when we are pressured to fulfil our desires, especially when we impulse buy. The Cambridge dictionary defines overspending as the action of spending more money than you should.1 There is a need to tame your overspending as a mechanism of saving more money for other vital needs. There are several reasons to overspend and various ways of overcoming it. The primary practical mechanism for overcoming overspending is understanding your spending triggers. Fundamentally, there are different spending triggers such as the environment, mood, time of day, lifestyle, and peer pressure.
Shopping malls, exhibition shows, and vacation visits are prime examples of places likely to trigger impulse buying. In essence, impulse buying is the act of buying something that you had not planned to buy because you suddenly want it when you see it.2 Keeping off such environments or only shopping for what you budgeted for would be necessary for keeping your spending in check. There are also favourite stores with everyday great deals. To minimize overspending, plan your days well such that you’ll only visit the stores on specific days and not every day. As in, do all you can to limit your opportunities to go there.
Mood contributes significantly to impulse shopping, e.g. when one is upset, stressed or anxious, the likelihood of shopping to feel better is higher. Hence, there’s a need to identify the moods that affect your spending behaviour and find replacement habits that will distract you from feeling the urge to shop to feel better. One prime example that’s becoming an effective replacement habit is hitting the gym. Every time you feel your mood is low and you’re tempted to go shopping to feel relieved, remember to hit the gym or get active by engaging in exercises, e.g. swimming, cycling etc.
c) Time of day
At what point of the day do you find yourself having more energy? It’s advisable to shop when you have more energy and feel less stressed because you’ll make wiser spending choices and think more rationally when you’re relaxed and less pressured. So the rule of the thumb is don’t shop when you’re stressed.
Your upbringing plays a significant role in influencing your lifestyle choices. For instance, on the one hand, if you grew up in a family that operated on a tight budget, the tendency to overspend to compensate for all the things you missed while growing up may be high. On the other hand, if you grew in a household where money was not a problem, the urge to overspend to maintain the lifestyle you grew up in may be high. First, identify if your upbringing plays a vital role in influencing your overspending tendencies, then overcome it by living within your means. Carrying a shopping list and sticking to it every time you go shopping is one of the best ways of beating overspending influenced by lifestyle.
e) Peer Pressure
Do you often tend to overspend when hanging out with your friends? If that’s the case and you can’t help it, it is okay to decline their invites. Only go spending with them if you can spend within your limits. You could also suggest hangout plans that would not require you to shell out a lot of money, such as going for picnics where you cook for yourselves or carry your own foods from home. Remember, an essential factor in beating the peer pressure to spend is surrounding yourself with friends who will support you as you work toward your financial goals.
In conclusion, always remember that our tendency to overspend is triggered by various reasons such as the environment we are in, our mood, our energy levels, our lifestyle that is heavily influenced by the environment and families we grew in, and peer pressure when hanging out with friends. Be quick to identify the trigger influencing you to want to overspend and find an appropriate way to distract yourself from spending the money you had not intended to spend initially. Also, learn to say no to peer influence and to yourself any time you feel the urge to spend beyond what you have. It all requires discipline. Therefore, be firm when it comes to how you spend your money. Remember, it is easier to make money than to save it.
1Cambridge Dictionary. (2021). overspending. Cambridge Dictionary. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/overspending.
2Cambridge Dictionary. (2021). impulse buying. Cambridge Dictionary. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/impulse-buying.