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21 May 2005

3 Ways to Curb a Money Spending Problem

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by Jesse Mecham

Nobody likes to talk about it, but a lot of people have a serious problem with their money. They spend more than they make. Use these three steps to stop your money spending problem before it gets you into too much trouble!

Symptoms of a money spending problem:

  1. You feel guilty when you spend money – even if it’s on legitimate purchases.
  2. You lie to your spouse about how much you’ve spent.
  3. You have increasing amounts of credit card (consumer) debt.
  4. You don’t know how much money you’ve spent on clothes, food, entertainment, etc.

If you’re experiencing any one or a combination of those symptoms listed above, you need to do yourself (and your wallet) a favor and implement these three ways to curb your money spending problem.

1. Talk about it

If you’re married, you need to talk about it with your spouse. If you aren’t married, talk about it with a good friend and/or confidant. When you openly talk about your money problem with someone you trust, you will feel better. You’ll be able to transfer a bit of the burden from your shoulders.

It can be especially hard to go to a spouse to talk about money problems if you’ve been hiding things from them. You really must though! You will need to sincerely apologize for your actions and also express a true desire to get things right. Give your spouse time to forgive you – but patiently expect them to do so.

2. Write it down

Now, you don’t need to write down every single purchase you make from today until forever. I discussed how writing down purchases will help you spend less money in another article. I’ll just briefly go over it here again.

When you have a money spending problem, the gist of it is that you don’t make a conscious, mental connection between what you take in (income) and what goes out (expenses). You tend to get caught up in the moment of the purchase, be it from peer pressure or the thrill of a great “sale” you might see. Usually you experience some buyer’s remorse, but that can be quickly rationalized.

When you write down everything you spend you become accountable to yourself. It is almost magical what happens – you spend less money. This will not solve your problem with over-spending money completely, but it will put you well on your way.

It is vital that you write down everything. If you don’t want to have to write it down, then don’t spend it.

Also, just because you possibly use plastic for purchases does not mean it’s already being “recorded” for you. That’s not the point of writing down your purchases. The bank does a good enough job of tracking transactions. You want to make a mental accountability connection when you spend money, and that can only happen when you’ve made the special effort to write it down.

3. Plan to spend

Number three deals mainly with possible guilt you feel when you spend money. It’s quite possible for people to feel guilty buying milk, eggs, or paying the electricity! This should not be so! As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t feel guilty for any single purchase you make. The best way to enjoy guilt-free spending is to plan to spend.

Using some type of personal budgeting system will go a long way in helping you in the planning process of your finances. If you are married, it is vital that you plan what you will spend with your spouse. It must be a combined effort done by both of you, where purchases are agreed upon before they are made.

You will not be able to plan every expenditure you make. That’s just the way life is. However, once you have written down what you spend, you’ll begin to get a pretty good idea of what you need to plan for. Sure, emergencies come up (that don’t merit using your emergency fund) and you’ll overspend what you originally planned. You just need to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and that life goes on.

A money spending problem can be serious. It can destroy marriages, cause bankruptcy, and seriously impair your ability to live the way you really want to live. If you have a problem spending money, implement these three steps to get started in the right direction.

Your Next Step

Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)


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