Let’s face it – you like to spend money. I like to spend money. We all like to spend money. You wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t. Let’s be honest now, doesn’t it feel good to spot something you like and line up at the cashier, whip out your credit card, and buy something new? Doesn’t it relieve stress and make you feel better about your day or yourself?
If you feel guilty when you agree with the above, don’t worry – you are hardly alone. Overspending is an American epidemic, and it only looks like it’s getting worse. Millions of Americans are stuck with heavy credit card debt they can’t pay off. Many struggle with even paying the minimum monthly payment on their cards. Overspending is a serious issue, and you might feel like it is one of those things you ‘just need to live with. Well, thinking that way might lead to even worse problems.
The good news is that an overspending problem is a symptom. It is not the cause of the disease itself. The ‘disease’ in this case is a psychological need to feel in control or valued. Everyone has this condition to some degree or level. However, people differ on how they deal with this psychological need. Others turn to drugs and alcohol, others to bad relationships, even others to more positive outlets like civic groups, volunteering, helping others.
You always have the power of choice, and you can always choose to confront your overspending inner demons instead of running away from them. Follow the guide below to get a handle on your uncontrollable urge to splurge.
Learn to Focus
One of the biggest reasons people tend to overspend is that they aren’t focused enough about what they are doing. They fail to remember that their brains and thinking processes are always in control. Instead, they let emotions or the ‘rush’ of buying take center stage and they end up feeling that they have no control over what they are doing. This is not true.
You always have control. You always have a choice. You just have to choose to take control. It is your choice to go to Macy’s to buy stuff. You can choose otherwise. All it takes is focus.
Focus is the ability to think clearly and see the different stimuli that influence your thoughts and get into your decision process. Once you focus, things will clear up, and you can start choosing to do what you should be doing-spending within your means. There are two key areas you must focus on: what you gain and what you lose.
Focus on what you gain
When you focus on what you gain by NOT overspending, you are exercising discipline. You are focusing on what you gain by not doing something. This isn’t easy. People often look at the advantages of something after they have done something. When you exercise self-control, you gain better discipline in all other aspects of your life.
You would know not to overeat. You would know how to control your emotions better. The same process plays out when you don’t spend. Your focus reveals the headaches you avoid and the worries you don’t have to suffer. You should also focus on the kinds of things having more money left over lets you enjoy down the road.
Focus on what you lose
The problem with focusing on what you gain is that it only works for certain people. It works for people who are proactive – people who seek out to do stuff and make stuff happen. Most people are re-active. The exact opposite of proactive people, reactive people wait for things to come to a head before they do anything. In fact, they wait to be forced into certain situations.
If you are a reactive person, you should focus on what you lose if you overspend. You can lose your rent money. You can lose part of your grocery budget. Worst of all, you can lose control over your money and, in a very real way, your life. Focus on the emotions that surround such situations. Soak it in. Let the fear and revulsion push you to making the right decision.