Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Consumers Say Overspending is the Biggest Financial Regret

Financial mistakes are bound to happen. Some are worse than others. According to a poll from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the biggest financial regret is habitual overspending. More than 2,200 people responded to the poll and 53% agreed with the top pick.

Other responses:

Inadequate savings, 18%
Insufficiently preparing for retirement, 14%
Not having a house, 10%
Having purchased a house, 5%.

A Few Consequences of Overspending

One of the problems with overspending is that it keeps you from accomplishing your other financial goals. For example, overspending can keep you from regularly contributing to your savings or retirement. It can also keep you from coming up with a down payment for a house. Or, if your overspending damages your credit score, you may not be able to qualify for a home loan. Overspending can also lead to debt, which creates another set of problems and stress.

Few people intend to overspend. Instead, it becomes a habit before you even realize it. If you can catch yourself soon enough, you can curb overspending before it gets completely out of control.

Signs You’re Overspending

How do you know if you’re overspending? If you’re constantly dipping into your savings to pay bills, you may be spending too much money in other areas. Or, if you frequently use your credit card without paying the bill in full each month, you’re likely overspending. Continually overdrafting your checking account, even if you have overdraft protection, is another sign that you may be spending too much money.

How to Get Your Spending Under Control

You may not be able to get back all the money you overspent, but you can change your bad spending habits from this point forward. Start by tracking your spending. Keep a journal of what you’re spending each day and evaluate whether what you've spent was necessary.

Budgeting is another method to control your spending. Create a budget based on your income and your necessary monthly expenses. Total the expenses you’ve listed on your budget, if they exceed your income, then you must choose some areas to cut back. Review the expenses you listed on your budget and ask whether each of these is crucial to your survival. Make a clear distinction between the things you want and the things you need.

A spending fast can also help you curb overspending. The spending fast is much like a food fast. While you’re on the fast, you only spend money on the necessities: shelter, transportation, food (groceries), utilities, and medical expenses. Little to no other spending is allowed while you’re fasting.

Decide how long your fast will last, e.g. 30 or 45 days. Then, set a start and end date for your fast. While you're fasting, continually remind yourself of your allowed spending categories to keep your spending in check. Once the fast is over, put all the money you saved into a savings account or use it to reduce the damage done in your days of overspending. Be careful not to go on a binge once you come off the fast. Ideally, you’ll keep most of the frugal habits you used during the spending fast.

The more attention you pay to what you’re spending, the more likely it is that you can keep your spending under control. Continually assess whether your purchases are necessary and develop the discipline necessary to say “no” to things you don’t need and can’t afford.

Source: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling
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Sunday, 18 August 2019

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