This month has been a tough one for my budget. I got a little too carried away with going out to eat and spending money on things I don’t really need.
After a little self-reflection, I realized that the reasons I tend to over-spend my budget are probably the same as the reasons other people do as well. Next time you overspend your budget, spend some time reflecting to see why it happened. After all, knowing is half the battle.
If you aren’t quite sure why you continue to blow your budget, check out these four common reasons to see if they fit your situation.
Shopping Out of Habit
Part of the reason I overspent my budget this month is because I was shopping out of habit. Whenever my best friend and I spend the weekend together, we tend to do at least a little shopping. The last few times I’ve done a pretty good job at keeping my purchases to a minimum, at least compared to what I used to spend when we were together. Nevertheless, I still spend money on things I don’t really need when I go shopping out of habit.
Confusing Wants and Needs
This brings me to my next point. Sometimes it can be easy to confuse wants and needs. For example, do I really need new pajama pants when I see cute ones at the store? In my case, the answer is no. I already have a drawer full of pajama pants at home so I don’t really need new ones.
Another place people tend to confuse wants and needs is at the grocery store. We all need to eat and buying groceries is a lot cheaper than eating out, but that doesn’t mean we need everything we buy at the grocery store. We don’t need soda and chips to survive. A great way to monitor your spending, especially when at your wants vs. your needs is by tracking your spending. You can use a free tool, such as Personal Capital, to track all your spending so you can know exactly where you’re at spending wise during the month.
Shopping When You’re Bored
When I was in college I worked part-time at an office during school semesters and then I transitioned to full-time at my job during the summer. Even with working at my job full-time during the summer break, I couldn’t always find enough to keep me busy since I was used to having classes and work during the day and homework at night.
Often this would lead to me going shopping at the mall after work. I didn’t really need anything and I was only shopping to kill time.
Have you ever caught yourself thinking “I deserve this” when looking at something you can’t truly afford? It’s happened to me more than once. Often I fall prey to this line of thinking when I feel tired and overworked.
I’ve been putting a large chunk of my monthly income toward debt for a couple of years now and it’s hard to see that money leave my bank account with nothing to show for it. Deep down I know that I already have the “stuff” to show for that money, which is how I racked up credit card debt. But it’s still a tough feeling to shake sometimes. This is usually when I feel like “I deserve” something since I’ve been working really hard without buying anything new for myself. But the truth is that I already bought myself a bunch of stuff and now I’m paying for those purchases by putting my money toward my debt.
The common denominator for most of these common reasons you continue to spend beyond your budget is emotional.
Next time you find yourself about to buy something that will put you over your budget, take a minute to think about how this purchase will affect your life. Do you truly need it? Are you willing to put off something else you need or want in order to have this item? Sometimes the answer will be yes and you’ll still buy it, and that’s ok. The key is just to take the time to realize how your spending affects your life and budget before you buy things for emotional reasons.
Have you ever given in to emotional spending? What are the reasons you continue to spend beyond your budget?
Photo courtesy of: kaboompics