4 Ways to Put a Permanent End to Overspending

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 9, 2021

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Could these tips put an end to going beyond your budget?

Overspending is a common problem. It can be difficult to avoid when there are so many societal cues prompting you to spend money. And often, buying things feels good -- at least until you see the impact on your budget and long-term financial goals.

Fortunately, there are tried-and-true techniques to curb overspending and take back control over your dollars. Here are four tips to implement if you splurge more than you feel you should.

1. Make a budget

You may overspend in certain areas without even realizing you're doing it. That can happen more easily if you don't have a roadmap for your money.

To reduce this problem, track your spending for around 30 days, then use the information to make a realistic budget. Tracking your spending first is key so you can ensure your budget makes reasonable cuts that you can live with long term. Identify where your money is going and look for sustainable opportunities to reduce spending. There are even budgeting apps you can use to make the process easier.

Once you've made a budget, you're far less likely to overspend because you're giving all your dollars a job. You'll know immediately if you're going over your allocated amount in an area and see the impact this overspending has on the other areas of your budget -- like saving for the future.

2. Institute a 24-hour rule

Impulse purchases are often part of overspending. You can end up regretting these purchases because they don't provide much value in the long run. To avoid unnecessary purchases that can drain your bank account, institute a 24-hour rule.

Basically, this rule requires you to wait 24 hours before making a purchase. Some people employ a twist on the 24-hour rule, and wait one day for each $100 an item cost. So before buying a $100 item, you wait 24 hours, and you wait three days before purchasing a $300 item.

By waiting at least a day, you gain time to think about whether you really want the item, or it just seemed like a good idea at the time. You may often find it's not worth going back to buy it after all.

3. Get an accountability buddy

It can be easier to avoid overspending if you make it a team effort. So enlist your spouse, partner, or a friend or family member. Make a game of it -- see who can go the longest without an unplanned purchase or a budget deviation. Check in weekly to share your progress and cheer each other on.

4. Give yourself a little leeway

Sometimes when you try to stick to a strict diet, you can end up binging on the foods you're trying to avoid. The same thing can happen with a budget. If you cut out all fun spending and become too rigid with your dollars, it can be easier to break down and splurge because you can't sustain deprivation.

Avoid this undesirable outcome by budgeting in a reasonable amount that you can spend guilt-free. By allowing yourself some small indulgences that don't affect your overall financial goals, you're much more likely to stick to your budget.

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