4 moments when we overspend and what to do about it
Financial resolutions are the third-most popular (45%) New Year’s resolutions for 2021, according to Urban Plates/Ipsos data. Regardless of your resolutions, or if you opt not to set any, it’s important to be kind to yourself along the way. And if overspending is holding you back from achieving your financial goals, here are four times when you might be spending too much and ways to curb that spending.
During the holidays
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers in the U.S. expected to spend $1,000+ during the 2020 holiday season. Especially during the holidays, it’s easy to spend without assessing the damage.
A key to breaking this cycle is being mindful about how you spend. Keep up with your credit card balances, evaluate if you’re spending more than you wanted to or more than you can actually afford, and determine if you’re able to completely pay off balances on your own or need to consider an alternative like a debt consolidation loan.
When we’re on vacation or out of town
You just dropped a bunch of dough on a cross-country flight and a decked-out Airbnb. You might as well take that upgraded rental car, right? As travel begins to open up again, many Americans’ first move will be booking a trip. But the point remains—when you’re traveling, you tend to lose sight of the long-term, making it easy to spend too much money.
You’re drunk at a bachelorette party and buy a round of shots for a group of 15 women—half of whom you’re meeting for the first time. Better upgrade to Patrón instead of that bottom-shelf booze while you’re at it. When you’re having a good time and in instant-gratification mode, your credit card balance is the last thing you’re thinking about. Put it on my tab!
Whether you’re planning a quick weekend trip or weeklong family vacation, it’s important to make a budget like you would in your everyday life. Instead of using your monthly budget, create a separate daily budget for your trip, accounting for how much you might need to spend on food and public transportation, as well as giving yourself breathing room for things like souvenirs and nights out.
When we constantly use credit cards
It’s becoming less common to carry cash—especially with retailers favoring card transactions during the pandemic—which makes it even easier to overspend. But when you spend with your credit card, you don’t have the same emotional response as when you pay with cash. With your card, you swipe, put it back in your wallet, and go about your day. When you use cash, you physically have to hand over the money to someone else and watch it disappear.
If you plan ahead and set boundaries around your credit card use—or if you stick mostly to cash—you may find that you have more control over how much you spend.
When we succumb to targeted social media ads
We’ve all probably found ourselves doom-scrolling at one point or another, especially amid the nearly yearlong pandemic that’s had many of us locked up inside. And whether it’s Instagram or a news story, you’ve likely stumbled upon a targeted ad for lounge wear that you don’t really need but looks so comfy that you need to buy it. (Or a green juice subscription because Big Brother knows you’re trying to be healthier in 2021.)
One way these ads get you is by offering a deal like 20% off or free shipping if you spend a certain amount. But if you’re spending $30 more than you need to ($0), or only saving $7.99 on shipping, are you really making out better?
Setting time limits on your social media use can help you dodge these types of ads—and possibly even give you a much-needed mental health boost.