You may be among the many people consumed by unbearable debt. If so, it’s best to understand the root of that debt and why we as a society have such a tendency to overspend. After all, it won’t do you much use to take care of a problem if you don’t understand the root of the problem. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ll end up right back in debt. So, what is the reason for overspending and falling headfirst into debt?
Companies use psychology to get us to buy more, even when we don’t mean to. Sometimes, we even allow ourselves to be duped and buy more or pay more. For instance, when you go to the grocery store while you’re hungry, you’re more likely to buy more food because everything looks so delicious. The best way to combat this is to make a list before you leave home and stick to it, no matter how much you may salivate upon seeing items that are not on your list.
Giving in to Consumerism
Advertising and societal pressure tell us that we have to buy a specific product to be desirable, be perceived as successful, be happy, or just to keep up with everyone else. This often involves overspending or buying items we don’t need, nor are we likely to even use as much as we think. When we come up for air after buying, buying, buying, it’s only then that we realize we’ve landed in credit card debt rather than actual happiness, success, or satisfaction.
A Lack of a Budget
Despite the fact that many of us know we should make a budget and get a free yearly credit report to better our financial health, the results of a recent survey revealed that only roughly 40% of Americans keep track of their spending. As long as your credit card isn’t declined or you don’t get an overdraft alert from your bank, you’re fine, right? The truth is that you should keep track of every penny coming in and every penny going out. Not having a budget can tighten your debt noose tighter and into a more complicated knot.
Quick and Easy Access to Credit
Another reason it’s so easy and common to overspend is that credit card offers are practically flooding out our mailboxes. In addition to receiving plenty of offers, credit card companies make it a breeze to fill out an application and start using your new credit card. Not all the blame can be placed at the credit card industry’s feet, as we aren’t forced to open a new credit card account. That said, such ease of access can most certainly work against us.
Not Using Cash
It’s undoubtedly true that being able to carry around and swipe a card is easier than carrying a wad of cash that has to be counted out, folded, organized, and concealed from potential thieves. The trade-off is the convenience can cost you more than you realize. When you carry cash, you can see and feel the amount of money you have depleting with every purchase. The same doesn’t apply to a debit or credit card where all you do is swipe and input your PIN. The money is taken out of your account, but it doesn’t have the same impact as using physical money. This discrepancy can lead to overspending and complacency.
Giving in to Inadvertent Peer Pressure
Without realizing it, our friends can pressure us into spending money that we shouldn’t. Maybe your friends invite you out for a night out, to a dinner, a trip, or anything else that involves spending money. Because you want to spend time with your friends and have experiences with them, you may accept the invitation and the cost involved when you don’t have the money to do so.
If you ever find yourself in such a situation, be upfront with your friends about the fact that whatever they’re proposing just isn’t in your budget. This is different from saying you’re broke. While you may have the money for dinner or a night of bar-hopping, that money may be set aside for paying off your car loan or mortgage or going into your emergency account. If you want to spend time with your friends, you can suggest a free activity.
Downplaying Small Expenses
Getting a coffee, filling up your gas tank, and picking up dinner from a restaurant every now and then doesn’t cost that much, right? When you sit down and add up all the little expenses at the end of the month, they can have a large impact on your spending. Look for ways to cut out unnecessary spending, or at least include them in your budget.
You may overspend more than you actually think. Do yourself and your finances a favor and sit down to really see where every dollar of your money is going. Use these tips, and get into the habit of doing everything possible to avoid spending money you don’t absolutely have to.