We are human, so naturally, we are flawed. But we also have great control over our actions; well sort of! As you know, some challenges are harder than others, but with knowledge and hard work, we DO have the ability to eXpel bad behaviors and initiate healthy change in our lives.
For change to occur, we need to acknowledge our unhealthy urges. Once this is done, we can charge ahead with a plan. If you find yourself overspending like millions of other Americans, don’t be too hard on yourself. It is so easy to swipe or insert a credit card and receive “instant gratification.”
However, after those urges subside we have to deal with the consequences of impulsivity. Habitual overspending can lead us down a slippery path to financial ruin. So, let’s start by admitting our weaknesses, and begin building a plan to eXpel the urge to overspend.
Step 1: Admit overspending is hurting your savings and investment accounts in ways that will substantially delay your future goals and financial stability.
Step 2: Budget your splurges. A small splurge or two can be gratifying, especially if the frequency isn’t a daily habit. The practice of delayed gratification helps us experience greater satisfaction, as we are not giving into the urge of constant indulgence. The smaller indulgences can be a treat, and the resistance to overspending will improve your financial future.
Step 3: Greatly reduce the number of credit cards available for spending. Consolidate your cards and choose cards with no annual fees and a reward system that can provide the most benefits.
Step 4: Studies show it is harder to pay with cash and easier to swipe or insert a card. Start by allocating a weekly amount of cash that you can afford to spend. Be mindful of how quickly the money disappears, reflect upon the feeling this evokes, and over time you should begin to think twice about the items you’re willing to allow to drain your wallet. (One emergency card out of sight in a wallet is ok, but it is only to be taken out in an emergency, i.e. your car breaks down.
Step 5: Have a long-term goal, whether it is paying off student debt, saving for your first home, or going on a fabulous vacation. Keeping a goal at the forefront of your mind can help you stay focused on the larger picture and possibly help you avoid the urge to overspend.
Life gives us many challenges and temptations, and we have the power to resist and take complete control of our lives and our financial well-being. It’s ok to splurge every now and then – because it’s life’s little extras that make it fun. But if we allow spending to become a habitual habit, we need to implement a plan and remove it from our lives.
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