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For many, shopping isn’t just a way to get things; it’s a way to connect with people and feel a little less lonely. Those who feel isolated may see shopping as a way to get out and be with other people. In essence, it may be a way to make a human connection. It feels good to buy something. It gives a rush of pleasure, making it very easy to be guilty of overspending.
How to Stop the Cycle
Overspending in this way is a never-ending cycle. When you’re shopping, you’re on top of the world. When your credit card bill arrives, you’re down, and you may feel ashamed that you wasted your money on something you didn’t need. You can get off this rollercoaster and spend your money more responsibly, but first, there are a few things to understand.
Understand the why
First, admit that this is what you’re doing, and realize that it’s a problem. We all have to shop for what we need, but it can be fun to buy unnecessary things. If you’re buying things outside of necessity, it will be hard to feel completely satisfied with those purchases.
Understand the results of your overspending
You may think that overspending is harmless. It’s your money; you should be able to do what you wish with it. This is true; however, overspending can affect your ability to pay your bills, to purchase things you actually need, and to retire comfortably. Ask these questions:
- Have your spending habits caused you financial hardship?
- Has spending kept you from saving for retirement?
- Has spending prevented you from purchasing things you really need?
- Has spending affected your credit score negatively?
- Do you have a high debt due to your spending?
- Do you hide purchases from your significant other?
A yes answer to any of these is cause for concern. It’s important to understand the detrimental effect that overspending can have on your financial life, as well as your personal life, so you can begin to make the changes you need to break the cycle.
Understand your budget
If you don’t have a budget, create one. If you’re not sure how to do this, take a look at this helpful worksheet. To figure out if you’re overspending, first, understand where your money needs to go. Include credit card bills, mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, clothing, transportation costs, medical or dental bills, and any recurring payments.
Understand your spending
Track your spending for a month, writing down everything you spend money on. It may feel like a hassle, but it’s just temporary; do it just long enough to get a clear picture of where your money is actually going. Highlight items you need and items you want in two different colors; calculate the totals for each. How does your “need” total compare with your “want” total? Does your “want” total fit into your budget? Does it still allow you to put money away for an emergency fund, retirement, or savings?
Understand that you’re human
It’s fine to go out and buy something that gives you a little pick-me-up now and then. We’re all guilty of overspending on that one extravagance every now and again. It’s when this is a regular coping mechanism when you can find yourself going off the rails and spending more than you should or more than you can afford. In the end, you may find yourself feeling lonelier than before.
Change your Habits
It can be tempting to just turn to shopping whenever you’re bored or need something to do, but it’s important to recognize when you’re unnecessarily spending and find other things to do with your time. You have to fill it up! Look into ways to get involved with people without shopping. Organize a group at work for people with a shared interest. Start your own business on the side. Volunteer in your community. Go to events on your own; you’ll have a good time and meet like-minded people!
If you’re having trouble with your finances, National Debt Relief may have the solution you need to regain your financial freedom. Call one of our counselors today at 1-800-300-9550 and get on the path to a happier and more financially stable future.