I had to learn how to stop overspending, and I didn’t even realise I had been doing it.
Yes, I would have been seriously offended if you had asked me ten years ago whether I was overspending.
In my mind, I was living modestly.
Then I kept a spending record for a couple of weeks and what I found made me want to shake myself so hard that my bones rattled – between coffee, lunch, and the bus, I was spending close to £20 daily without even noticing.
That was nearly a decade ago.
What brought the memories about?
My university student son.
Now, let me get this straight – my son is generally good with money. Or shall I say my son is good at making money? But then…
Three weeks ago, he phoned to say that he was a bit short. Not because he spent all his student loan but because he invested a good chunk of it and with the yo-yo, crazy markets drawing down is not a great idea.
I send him money. I remember how it feels to go hungry in the middle of exams.
Ten days later, I got another call – my son had run out of money again.
Guys, my son spent £150 in ten days, given that his rent and bills are covered.
My finance blogger soul cringed!
“How did you spend £150 in ten days?” I asked. “Your dad and I spend less between the two of us.”
“Oh mum, I spent it all on food. I work in the library, and there is a Subway nearby. The bus is £2 each way.”
Suddenly it hit me: my son didn’t even realise that he was overspending. He has even less idea about how to stop overspending.
(Let me say that I am not a naturally frugal person. I still consider overspending and overconsumption highly reprehensible because it is fifty shades of waste.)
Let’s talk about how to stop overspending by using five clever tricks.
#1. Stop overspending by keeping track
You can’t solve a problem before you know what the problem is.
Most compulsive overspenders don’t even realise that they are overspending.
Hence, as a first step towards learning how to stop overspending, record all you spend for several weeks. Make this record details because understanding where your money goes will help you decide how to tackle your overspending problem.
For example, I slashed my overspending by not buying coffee and lunch. And I didn’t deprive myself. I bought a Nespresso machine for my office and started bringing in lunch. Because I kept a record of my spending, I knew what I could reduce and cut.
(Yes, keeping a record is pesky, but you can make it more palatable by using a phone app.)
#2. Change Your Habits to stop overspending
Do you buy a sandwich for lunch?
Do you buy bottled water when thirsty?
Do you drink fizzy drinks while working in the library?
These are some questions I asked my son.
Because changing your spending habits and learning to substitute is the surefire way to stop overspending.
Don’t buy a sandwich from Subway. Make your own.
Don’t buy bottled water. Take a reusable bottle with you.
Don’t drink fizzy drinks – you pay too much for empty calories and rotten teeth.
How about the £4 you spend on the bus? Yes, a good one. How about you use your bike to get around to save and do your cardio?
I hope you see what I mean. These are just some examples, and you can find a more clever frugal tip here.
#3. Put in a little effort for significant saving gains
Buying a sandwich is easier, you say. Having someone make my coffee is easier.
Drinking sugar makes me feel good. Eating out saves me from having to cook.
It may well be true. But with a little effort, you can eliminate overspending and save yourself hundreds.
Making a sandwich takes approximately three minutes, and you can have it just as you like.
Eating out reduces your bank balance and expands your waistline. Learning to cook is also an excellent stress buster (on top of being so much healthier).
A little effort goes a long way in learning how to stop overspending.
#4. Always look for the positive in the change
When I stopped buying coffee, I didn’t feel deprived because the espresso I made in my office was nicer.
I cycled to work instead of taking the bus and became fitter than ever.
Try to find the silver lining in the changes you must make to stop overspending, and you will be making a sustainable, long-term change.
#5. Cut the rubbish to slash overspending
Most overspending comes from eating, drinking, and smoking unhealthy stuff.
My son told me he spent all the money I sent on food. He didn’t mention vaping.
You may not believe me, but your life would be better without smoking, drinking alcohol and eating sugary or salty snacks.
(Drinking is not my vice but smoking used to be.)
Look, you can continue overspending.
Or you can upgrade your spending habits, brush up on your money management skills and cut the rubbish out of your life.
Overspending, wasting, and debt or living a life free of money worries because you are in control.
For me, it was a no brainer.