How to Take Control of Your Spending This Year, Part 3: What Triggers Your Overspending Habit?

What Triggers Your Overspending Habit?

This article is part three of a four-part series to help you reduce your spending this year. In part two, I took you through a simple exercise to help you identify your spending weakness. This week, we’re going to determine what triggers your overspending habit.

People overspend for many reasons, even when they know it’s detrimental to their finances. Unfortunately, overspending can become a habit. And habits only break if you want them to.

Breaking any pattern can be challenging, but you can change your behavior with persistence and a plan. Here’s your next step for getting your spending under control in 2023.  

Figuring Out Your Triggers

Oftentimes, something else triggers our habits, such as an external stimulus, an emotion, or even another habit. If you tend to overspend, chances are something is triggering this habit.

You may or may not be aware of what triggers your overspending habit. If you don’t, take some time to reflect on and journal about when your overspending habit started, what triggered it, and what continues to activate it.

From my experience working with women clients, here are a few common scenarios:

  • They have a good income or resources but have unrealistic expectations about how much they can spend. This situation frequently happens with women who experience a “sudden-money” event, such as a large inheritance, bonus, a big raise, a new highly paid job, or a liquidity event. Once the spending starts, it’s hard to stop.
  • They use shopping to deal with negative emotions such as loneliness or anxiety— or shopping as “retail therapy” to numb themselves instead of confronting what is bothering them.
  • They’ve stopped keeping track of their spending, don’t have a budget, and have yet to learn how much they can afford to spend while still reaching their other goals.
  • Shopping, which started as a pleasurable pastime, has slowly become more like an addiction. The excitement of buying something new and better (online or in a store), and the camaraderie with friends and shop owners, all combine into a positive reinforcement loop that can get out of control.
  • A life-changing event happened, such as divorce, the death of a spouse, a new home or relocation, and they haven’t adjusted their spending to their new reality.

Taking Control of Your Overspending Habit

Contemplating and writing down your reasons for overspending can be a helpful step in getting your spending back in alignment with your financial goals. Take your time and dig in as deeply as possible to determine what triggers your overspending habit before going on to the next step.

In part four of this series, we’re going to take action by setting up a budget and a system for tracking your spending. In the meantime, I invite you to check out these free resources to help you better understand and take control of your personal finances.

Download my FREE E-BOOK: How to Take Control of Your Spending This Year

Love this blog series? Download my free e-book, How to Take Control of Your Spending This Year, for tips and strategies you can quickly put into action to get your spending habit under control.

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Curtis Financial Planning