A financial therapist gives these tips on how to recover from chronic overspending
Overspending is a serious problem that can have major consequences on your financial well-being. If you're struggling with chronic overspending, it's important to take steps to recover. Financial Therapist, Aja Evans of Aja Evans Counseling shares a few cautionary flags to be mindful of when you are trying to figure out if you have a problem with overspending. "It can be very easy to blow past your desired spending limit and very hard to start reeling it in." Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you find yourself spending money when you don’t really need to?
- Do you experience boredom and find yourself filling your time with making purchases?
- Do you have trouble sticking to the boundaries of your budget, despite your best efforts?
- Do you feel uneasy if you haven’t bought something over a course of time?
- Do you find that your overspending is making other parts of your life more difficult?
Aja points out that "These are a few indicators that it might be time to look at how your desire to spend is impacting your life. Oftentimes feelings of guilt and shame are accompanied with some of the above actions". Aja provides the following tips in order to help recover from chronic overspending.
Recognize why you are spending
It is said that the first step to recovery is identifying and admitting that there is an underlying issue. The same can be said of overcoming any obstacle in life- the first step is acknowledging your feelings. It might seem counterintuitive, but bottling up your emotions will only make it harder to overcome whatever problem you're facing. Acknowledge how you feel, and why you feel that way, and then start working on a solution. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it. After all, as the saying goes, "the only way out is through." So why not start by facing your feelings head-on? Aja affirms that "This is going to take some soul searching. Set aside some “me” time to sit and truly reflect on why you are spending. Were you upset? How come? Are you trying to pacify or cope with an uncomfortable feeling? The first step is to identify the feeling."
Developing new coping skills
Aja asserts that "Once you know what may have triggered your discomfort, you will know when you need help moving through that feeling. In the past, you may have spent money, but now you are going to start learning how to develop a different healthy coping skill". Developing new coping skills can seem like a daunting task but don't worry, there are plenty of ways to develop new coping skills. There are a variety of ways to develop new coping skills, but here are three that are particularly effective:
1. First, identify the situations or events that trigger your stress. This can be anything from a particular person or place to a certain time of day. Once you know what your triggers are, you can start to plan how to avoid or manage them.
2. Second, find healthy activities that help you relax and de-stress. This could be anything from yoga or meditation to reading or spending time in nature. Engaging in these activities regularly will help you build up your resilience to stress.
3. Finally, reach out to friends and family for support. Social relationships are essential for our mental health, so talking to someone you trust about your stress can be incredibly helpful. They may also have some good coping strategies that you can borrow!
Realize that you have to start small
"Now is not the time to make sweeping gestures in an attempt to change your lifestyle. Change like this takes time. Make peace with it." Aja asserts. Why is it important to start small in order to achieve goals? Because if you start too big, you'll get overwhelmed and give up. It's much easier to accomplish a series of small tasks than it is to take on a huge overhaul. By starting small, you can build momentum and confidence as you move closer to your goal. And once you've achieved a few small goals, you'll be much more likely to stick with your larger goal. So don't be discouraged if your goals seem out of reach at first. Just remember to start small, and you'll be well on your way to achieving them.
Have a no-spend day
Anyone who has ever tried to stick to a budget knows how difficult it can be to resist the lure of spending money. Whether it's an irresistible new pair of shoes or a tempting sale on a favorite item, there are always temptations to spend. However, learning how to discipline oneself when it comes to spending can be an important step in achieving financial stability. One way to accomplish this is by setting a no-spending rule for oneself. This means that, for a set period of time, one agrees not to spend any money at all. This can be daunting at first, but stick with it and the result will be a healthier bank balance and improved self-control. Aja explained, "Pick a day where you won’t be spending on anything. From your one day, slowly build up your ability to go without spending money for multiple days, a week, or more".
Make a plan
Studies show that without a financial plan, you'll find that your efforts are quickly abandoned. So how do you develop and stick with a financial plan?
1. Set a budget and stick to it. This may seem like an obvious solution, but it's often overlooked. Determine how much you can realistically afford to spend each month, and then stick to it. It may help to set up a separate bank account for your spending money so that you're not tempted to dip into your savings.
2. Delay gratification. When you see something that you want, take a step back and ask yourself if you need it. Can you wait a week or two before making the purchase? Often, the answer is yes. If you can learn to delay gratification, you'll be well on your way to achieving financial discipline.
3. Live below your means. This is similar to delayed gratification, but it's important enough to merit its point. Just because you can afford something doesn't mean that you should buy it. If you want to be financially disciplined, you need to learn to live below your means. That way, you'll have more money available for savings and investment.
4. Make a plan. Finally, one of the best ways to achieve financial discipline is to make a plan. Determine what your financial goals are and then develop a strategy for how you will achieve them. Having a plan will help keep you focused and on track, and it will increase your chances of success. "Your financial plan will help keep you on track and remind you what you are working towards and why you can't spend. Once you see yourself gaining traction on your plan it may help to motivate you in sticking to it. " Aja affirms.
When to seek out help
Some people may not know that there are financial therapists available to assist them with their money relationships. Aja explains a bit about the role of a financial therapist and the best times to reach out. "A financial therapist is a trained professional who can help you explore, navigate, and eventually understand how and why you think, feel, and behave with money the way you do. We support people who seek to have a better relationship with money. You can seek help whenever you want and it doesn’t have to be when you are in a crisis although that is when people tend to reach out for help. If you have noticed a pattern that doesn’t feel good to you or you believe you could use a few tweaks to how you interact with money there is help available. An increase in avoidance or discomfort when diving into your money mindset may also be an indication that you may need extra support. It may be time to seek out help when you notice that you are continually struggling to get back on track. If you find it difficult to ask yourself the harder questions or answer them, support is there to help you."