Do you feel guilty about overspending each month? Financial guilt is a very real and serious feeling. Money is a tool that should empower you and help you provide for yourself and your family. When you feel overspending guilt, it can make you feel less confident and capable about your finances.
Luckily, you don’t have to live in guilt and shame forever. You can regain control of your spending and your finances by practicing awareness and realizing that it’s okay to spend your money within reason. Here are a few real ways to help you with overspending guilt.
Determine the Root Cause
The first step to overcoming overspending guilt is to determine the root cause. Look at your spending and current budget to see which areas you might be overspending in. This is why it’s so important to have a clear budget in the first place that lays out your expenses categories and income.
That way, you can review your transactions and see how they line up with your spending plan. You might see that you’ve been spending more money at a particular retailer or doing some other splurges. For most people though, small unexpected expenses lead to overspending. Maybe your kids needed some clothes or you ordered takeout too many times.
What’s important is that you examine your spending for the past week or 30 days to see exactly where your money is going.
Identify Your Triggers
Next, identify your triggers. Now that you know exactly which areas you’re overspending in, you’ll want to keep an eye out for how that spending process works. Every time you go to spend money there are triggers. Maybe it’s an initial thought that comes up in your head. Or, you might see an advertisement or commercial.
I spend quite a bit of time on Instagram and have caught myself making purchases based on the posts I see from time to time. This is a clear spending trigger, but in order to realize it, I had to be focusing on self-awareness.
Take some time to analyze your extra purchases and see what the triggers might have been that lead up to that purchase. Also, assess how you feel now about the purchase. Do you regret it? If so, what could you have done differently when those triggers came up? Realize there’s no use in beating yourself up about past mistakes. The key is to make sure you’re aware of your thought process when it comes to spending money so you can make improvements for the future.
Narrow Down Your Values
If you have some overspending guilt, you may want to determine where that guilt truly comes from. Do you feel bad about spending money in general? Or is your guilt tied to a particular purchase? Either way, you can eliminate this guilt by getting clear on your values.
Determine what’s most important to you in life and which purchases are actually worth it in your opinion. I used to beat myself up about buying Starbucks and lattes some mornings. Then, I realized I value those purchases and shouldn’t have to feel bad for buying something that I truly like and enjoy.
If you like certain shoes or have a particular hobby, give yourself permission to spend freely on the things you truly value. That way, you won’t feel guilty or deprived when you spend on these things anyway. The great thing about getting clear on your values is that you can’t possibly value everything. When you pick out your values, there will naturally be some things that aren’t included. You can save money by not spending on what you don’t value and allowing yourself to spend reasonably in the areas that you do value.
Balance Your Spending Habits
With personal finance, balance is key. No, you can’t splurge every single day and still feel good about your finances and meet your goals. You can spend strategically on what’s important to you and get rid of overspending guilt. Even if you do overspend from time to time, you can still maintain control of your money by balancing your spending habits.
Focus on your budget and rework your spending plan as needed. With budgeting, there is no one-size fit-all solution. It’s all about what works for you. So if you’ve been trying a line-item budget, you may want to switch to paying yourself first and taking care of essentials. Then, you can spend the rest of your money freely and without guilt.
Or, you may want to try a 50/30/20 budget. This is when 50% of your income goes toward living expenses, 30% to wants and flexible spending, and 20% to debt and saving. It’s an easy way to make sure you’re still saving money, meeting your needs, and also able to spend on different things that matter to you.
Don’t Just Rely on Willpower
Finally, don’t just rely on willpower when you’re trying to tackle overspending guilt. Life is not always expected and you may still end up overspending in the future. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to always stay in your budget and never encounter a slip up. Instead, establish a clear plan and know your triggers. When you know which triggers tempt you to overspend, you can create new triggers that help you stick to your spending and prioritize your values.
Avoid commercials, marketing, retailers, and other temptations that have thrown you off track in the past. Then, commit to paying yourself first and putting some money to your savings and debt pay-off goals. I always feel 100% when I know that I’ve put money toward savings or paid on some debt early on in the month. That way, if I happen to slightly overspend later on, I don’t feel nearly as guilty or worried.
Overspending guilt doesn’t have to take over your life anymore or hinder your financial confidence. We all experience moments of overspending or falling off track with our budget. It’s only natural but the key is to practice self-awareness and understand which factors lead to overspending. That way, you can limit those encounters and stay on track financially.
How do you deal with overspending guilt?