How to tame your out-of-control spending with Summer and Jen

Written By 

Summer Watson, MHS, PhD & Jen Fontanilla, Certified Money Coach (CMC)™

You might be wondering, what does it mean to be “out-of- control.” To be out of control means that you’re having a difficult time managing your behavior; that you are acting without thought and not thinking about the potential consequence of your actions. It also means that you are being impulsive and as such your behavior is impacting your overall well-being, and in this case – your pocketbook.  

The following are a few questions to ask yourself if you feel that your behavior, especially in relation to spending, is out-of-control:

  1. Is the way you are spending money negatively impacting your everyday life?
  2. Do you think about spending money when you wake up, during the day, and when you go to bed?
  3. Is spending money the main focus of your thoughts?
  4. Is the regularity and impulsivity of how you are spending money a concern to you?
  5. Is how you are spending money impacting your financial wellness?
  6. Is your behavior affecting others?
  7. Are you feeling guilt over how you’re spending money?
  8. Is your behavior overwhelming and do you feel like this is a train in motion that you can’t stop? 

If you have answered “YES” to any of these questions, here are a few ways to tame your out-of-control spending:

  • Breathe and know that you do have the capacity to change this behavior. That you can do something to tame your spending. 
  • Know that you always have the power of CHOICE. You have the ability to choose the direction of your life. Choice is an incredible power, which you possess to make decisions that will positively impact your well-being.
  • It’s time to dig deep and look at “WHY” you are choosing to over spend. When did you notice this pattern of behavior, when did it start, and what triggered it? These questions will help you determine the reasons you could be trying to fill a void, repress, or avoid something in your life. Once you have identified the “why,” this will be your opportunity to confront what you have been pushing aside or avoiding.
  • Identify your triggers related to spending. Are you triggered by sales, your internet ads, time of day, boredom, or something that happened during your day? Once you are aware of your triggers, you can redirect yourself to do something that will have a more positive impact on your life, such as unsubscribe to online retail sites, change your notification settings, give yourself the opportunity to window shop, which serves as a waiting period of sorts, and shop without making a purchase. You have the choice to create new habits and still be fulfilled. 
  • Track your spending. What gets measured gets improved. Often times, you may not even know where every dollar and cent is going. When you can’t account for it, you end up wondering “where did it go?” It’s important to pay better attention to what you’re spending your money on to ensure that your responsibilities such as rent, car payment, groceries, and health insurance are taken care of and that you’re not left wondering “how am I going to pay for this?” When you track your money, you can intentionally plan and feel good that you are in control of what is going on.
  • Have a budget for yourself. The dreaded budget – let’s call it a spending plan. Whether you have a disdain for budgets or you have never done one for yourself, a budget is a plan to tell your money where to go. Having a plan puts you in the driver’s seat, allows you to feel liberated, minimizes the risk of a financial mess, and reduces confusion. 
  • If you find that you have tried all of these tips and you still need additional support, you can always reach out to a professional counselor for guidance.  

There are many ways that you can tame or curb your spending and the first is to know that you have the power of “Choice.” You can choose to live your life in a way that has a positive impact on your well-being. Before you get the urge to spend: breathe, schedule your day to avoid impulsive spending, ask yourself if you actually “need” what you are thinking about purchasing, and know that change and creating new habits takes time.