If you love fashion as much as I do, then chances are you might have a habit of overspending while shopping. You tell yourself you're only going window shopping, or you tempt yourself with a quick scroll through Pinterest or Instagram, and next thing you know you're itching to try on the newest trends and waltz back home with a new dress or pair of culottes in your arms. The struggle is real, and I 100 percent understand it.
But while having new items to play with in the morning when you're getting ready for work is exciting, watching yourself break even every month is not. I've had plenty of months where I had to eat cereal for dinner because that bank account was looking kind of thin, and that's usually around the time when the regret sinks in. If you feel like you've been over-spending your hard earned money but don't really know how to summon the will power to curb it, then you've come to the right place. While walking away from a pair of sandals on sale can be some tough stuff, there are tips and tricks to help you become more aware of your budget. Below are 11 ways to curb your overspending.
1. Create A Budget Outline
It's hard to figure out if you're over-spending or not if you don't have a general outline you can measure your purchases against. A great way to see where your money is going each month is to seperate your purchases into categories. Finance writer Jacqueline Curtis from financial site Money Crashers recommended, "Try following the “50/30/20” rule: 50% of your monthly income should go to fixed and necessary expenses, 30% to fun stuff and lifestyle choices, and 20% to savings and paying off debts." So if you notice that your shopping trips are beginning to eek over that 30 percent mark, you'll know you to pump the breaks.
2. Plan Ahead
Whether you're going grocery shopping or shoe shopping, planning ahead will help you save major dough. Lifestyle writer Maya Bisineer at self development blog The Art of Simple pointed out, "Not knowing what exactly I need is the most common reason I overspend. A quick run into the grocery store turns into a big bag of “nice-to-haves” every single time I let my mind estimate what my pantry needs." For example, if you go shopping for clothes and confirm you're only looking for an oxford shirt and sandals, you'll be a lot less distracted by all the dresses and on-sale booties. Why? Because you now have narrowed focus.
3. See What Your Spending Triggers Are
Do you blow up your grocery bill when you go shopping hungry? Is it hard for you to walk down Main Street and not pop into a store? Do you online shop when you're bored in the early evening? Knowing your triggers can stop your over-spending. Budget writer Debra Pangestu from financial site My Money Coach wrote, "In many cases, knowing how to stop spending money has to do with identifying the emotional and psychological triggers that cause us to spend. If you remove those triggers, you’ll remove the temptation and opportunity to overspend." Make sure you eat a snack before grocery shopping, avoid Main Street like the plague, and have an activity ready once you come home!
4. Try The Envelope Trick
When we pay with cash instead of credit cards, we become more aware how much something costs. It's no longer an arbitrary swipe — you feel sort of pained seeing your hard earned cash switch hands. That's why the envelope budget trick works so well. Curtis explained, "Get a bunch of envelopes for all your variable expenses and label each one according to how much you’ve allocated in your budget. Then, put that amount of cash inside for the next week." Say you put 40 dollars in for eating out — if you run out of 40 bucks before the week is over, then you know you're making dinners at home until the next week rolls by.
5. Don't Bring Your Credit Cards
When you leave the house, only go out with cash in your wallet. It will make a world of difference. Pangestu explained, "When you head out to the mall or the grocery store, take only the amount of cash you anticipate you’ll need and leave the credit cards at home." The reason? Once your cash runs out, you'll know that that's the end of it. You won't blow your budget by breaking out your card.
6. Avoid Boredom
It's easy to do some online window shopping or go stroll to the nearest boutique when we're bored and have nothing better to do. Bisineer confirmed, "Boredom was often the cause of my spending." In order to avoid that, plan out your social calendar every Sunday to constantly have something interesting happening. Go do a yoga video with friends, meet up to make dinner, go read a book in a coffee shop, pick up a new hobby. The more filled your schedule, the less time you have to shop!
7. Opt For Cheaper Alternatives
Rather than going to those fancy boutiques, try fast fashion shopping. Or instead of going out to the chicest restaurants in town, try going to a more mom-and-pop place to save a couple of much needed dollars. You don't have to put yourself on a strict budget that sucks all the fun out of your life — you just have to make smarter choices. Curtis offered, "Is the conversation any less meaningful if you invite your friends out for a cup of coffee instead of a pricey dinner? It’s OK to let the people in your life know that you’re trying to spend less – after all, you probably tell folks when you go on a diet because it helps increase your accountability." Your friends will totally support you.
8. Set A Financial Goal
Chances are there's a reason why you're saving. In order to keep you on track, keep a visual of that reason handy so it can help you out of weak moments. Financial coach Adam Hagerman advised, "Now that you have them, put them in a prominent place so you have to look at them each and every day. This will constantly remind you of WHY you are cutting back on expenses and/or sacrificing some things that are difficult." If it's a vacation, print out a picture of Prague, if it's an apartment tape up a picture of your future living room. It'll help curb your temptations.
9. Sleep On It
Say you just got tempted by a dress — instead of running to the register with it like a mad woman, leave the store and think about it for 24 hours. You might just get over it durng that time. Hagerman confirmed, "If you are looking to make a purchase, force yourself to think about it. Put the item back and only come back to it after you have had time to let it sink in." If something was just an impulse buy, you'll be able to avoid blowing your budget over it in this way.
10. Save First, Spend Later
Rather than thinking whatever cash you have left over from the month is your savings money, flip that idea inside out. Bisineer explained, "When I got my first job, it took me a while to understand that savings is not the money that I am left with after I am done spending. In fact, my spending money is what I get after I am done putting a certain amount of money into savings." That way you for sure won't over-spend because you only have a finite amount to play with.
11. Give Yourself Cheat Days
Just like with a diet, if you restrict yourself too much you'll hit your breaking point. In order to avoid that, allow yourself a cheat day once every two weeks. Curtis confirmed, "It’s OK to give yourself little rewards now and again to stay on track." So save up some money for a shopping trip, or put a little aside to go to a fancy bar with friends.
A little leeway won't hurt, and it'll make the whole process a lot more doable!