What to do with Lots of Money
A Responsible Budget
The Ethics of Debt
Mortage Holidays
Think of Next Christmas
Overcoming Overspending
Prioritise your Savings
Spending without Feeling Guilty
Managing Money for Business & Pleasure
Preparing for Rain
Managing Joint Finances
Make your Dollars go Further
Make the Most of your Money
Grandma's Jars
Your Leaky Bucket
Getting on Top of Debt
Changing Money Habits
How & Where to Save



Overcoming Overspending  

Overcoming Overspending

Now, more than ever, is the time to keep your spending under control as we batten down the hatches and wait for the global credit crunch storm to pass. For some, it is a huge struggle to stop spending. Often when we spend money there is a psychological need that we are meeting. It may be that buying expensive gifts for loved ones is a way of feeling close to them, or in some cases, those with low self esteem may boost their image by having the latest electronic gizmo, or going shopping for elegant accessories to make their home look beautiful. There is nothing wrong with doing any of these things in moderation. The real test of whether you are an overspender is whether your spending habits are so out of control that they create a problem for you or others around you.

If you are an overspender, or you are in a relationship with one, you have probably experienced considerable financial and emotional stress, including unmanageable levels of debt, anger, hurt, guilt and low self esteem. Deep inside, most overspenders believe money can buy, or substitute for, love or happiness. Overspending can also be associated with being more powerful, particularly for some men. The tell tale signs of an overspender are:

  1. You tend to spend money when you go shopping, whether or not you need anything
  2. You often buy things or take financial risks regardless of whether you can really afford them
  3. When life gets too stressful, you seek consolation by spending or risking money
  4. When you feel lonely, anxious, depressed or bored you spend to cheer yourself up
  5. Your favourite way of celebrating or rewarding yourself is to spend or gamble a lot of money.

The pattern of overspending is similar to binge eating. There is a trigger; often a negative emotion such as loneliness, depression or boredom. There is a decision point; you give yourself consent to spend. You take action by making the purchase, then once the high has passed, you are overcome with feelings of guilt, shame and self-hate.You are right back where you started, in a negative emotional state. If you are an overspender, here are some tips for how to overcome your problem:

Make a list of what you own and what you owe so you can see your financial situation in black and white

  1. Set clear goals for yourself and celebrate your progress
  2. Keep a money diary – writing down not only what you bought, but why you bought it and how the purchase made you feel
  3. Once you understand what it is that triggers your urge to spend, deal with those issues
  4. Practice new behaviours such as setting aside savings or leaving your credit cards at home
  5. If you see something you want, think about it for 24 hours before you buy it
  6. Stay away from situations where you are likely to spend money, or take a friend with you

If your partner is an overspender, you can help by:

  1. Talking with your partner about his or her problems in a non-judgemental way
  2. Managing your money separately, but without taking away your partner’s right to spend responsibly.
  3. Being more loving towards your partner
  4. Being understanding when there is an inevitable setback

For more information on this subject, read Overcoming Overspending by Olivia Mallon (Walker Publishing Company, 1995).

 October 2008




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