Tackle the Urge to Overspend

Too much shoppingSomewhere along the line, you’ve probably come across all of the “rules” for creating wealth, such as spend less than you earn. But like many people, you may find that your financial habits don’t lend themselves to building a strong financial base.

The logical question to ask is why do people keep spending and spending on so much stuff, much of which they don’t need and that often costs them for storage space, larger homes, or interest on credit card purchases?

What is the allure of material possessions that drives people to put themselves in financial danger while ignoring their inner desire for freedom and security?

A lot of it has to do with habits. Fueled by endless media messages to buy whatever might suit our fancy, spending habits have developed that go so far beyond survival levels that consumers often lose track of what they really want out of life.

Somewhere along the line, the believe has been perpetuated that opulent living is everyone’s birthright, even if it means using up planetary resources and creating financial pain. Spending, for many people, has gotten out of control, as fulfilment is sought through their piles of stuff.

Take a Breather

I’m not going to suggest that you suddenly stop buying more stuff or that you give up accumulating whatever you equate with living the good life. What I am going to suggest is that you take a breather and find out what you really need in order to experience feelings of freedom and security, which is what most people want.

Start with one day where you go on a spending fast and don’t spend anything. Not one penny.

The next step is to choose a week during which you only buy essentials–food, basic transportation, medical. Pay your bills, if due, but do not buy anything new.

During both of these non-spending times, pay attention to the feelings that come up. You may notice some anxiety, impatience, or physical cravings. Notice the feelings in your body that not-spending stimulates.

Before you go on the one-week spending breather, set a limit as to how much you can spend per week once you have returned to your usual routine . Do your best to stay within this limit, once again noticing the feelings that come up as a result of staying within the boundaries you have set.

I spoke to a woman recently who went in and out of debt because of her penchant for designer clothing. If she didn’t wear designer clothing, she felt inadequate. Each time she committed to stopping her excessive spending, she lasted about a month. After that, she compulsively shopped and bought new clothes.

What’s your limit?

How long can you go before the urge to spend takes over?

When you do feel the urge to buy something you know you absolutely must have right away, I suggest that you wait three days before buying whatever it is that you can’t live without at that moment. You may find, as I did when I started this practice, that three days later, the urge passes.

You can do this with online shopping too. When you find something you absolutely must have bookmark the page, or on Amazon.com add it to your Wish List. Wait three days before making the purchase.

It’s likely that you’ll be sucked in by great deals. As long as you stay within your pre-determined spending limit, you can buy something.

When you do buy something without waiting, notice if you feel shame, guilt or elation. Make whatever spending you do an opportunity for getting in touch with your feelings.