If you identify as an overspender, you’re not alone.
Every month, you diligently draw up an excel sheet and note every cent that leaves your pocket. You may be fully aware of what you spend on, but somehow you always find yourself living from paycheck to paycheck. Perhaps your budgeting method doesn’t suit your lifestyle, or maybe you’re simply overspending.
Despite what other personal finance gurus tell you, having an excel spreadsheet and keeping track of your budget alone doesn’t prevent you from overspending. The truth is, we are only human, and we’re prone to impulsive splurges.
To make things worse, temptation is everywhere — from sales and shopping mall promos, you name it. The question is, how do we refrain from overspending?
How much of my salary should I save?
Disclaimer: Do note that spending and saving can be highly subjective as everyone has different circumstances, age, priorities and income.
With that out of the way, I will first recommend overspenders hide their money away from themselves.
After you get your salary at the end of the month, take out the exact sum for needs and obligations such as insurance premiums, paying off loans, debts, utility bills and phone bills. After that, stash half of the remaining money in a high-interest savings account, and live the rest of the month on the remaining leftover balance.
For people who are too lazy to transfer cash in their savings account every month (we get it), we recommend that you set up an automatic transfer on payday from one bank account to another savings account (perhaps with a different bank). This ensures a set amount of money is saved every month.
Using an account that is not accessible or easy to log in also helps. Perhaps stick with a web login instead of downloading the app on your phone where you can see the balance every day.
4 simple money-saving hacks you can follow to curb overspending
1. Delay purchases
If you find something online that you think that it’s an absolute must-have, put off your purchase for a few days. This will give you time to cool off from the excitement and think about whether you really need it. And if you forget what’s in your cart, you probably don’t like/want/need it as much as you think.
Also, don’t buy something thinking that you’ll return it if you hate it because chances are high that you won’t bother.
2. Use cash only
We know, we know. We’re a personal finance site and we’re supposed to encourage people to sign up for credit cards. But we’re not going to do you dirty by recommending that. If you truly wish to curb overspending and save more money, we highly recommend making payments in cash.
Why? Because credit cards enable you to make impulse purchases by simply tapping that piece of plastic on a payment terminal before walking away.
If you are only carrying enough cash to run errands and do pre-planned shopping, there will be no temptation to purchase anything else because you don’t have sufficient cash.
3. Avoid temptations
When you go out to get groceries at the mall, for example, make it quick by being objective.
Don’t go walking into every store on the way to the supermarket, because we all know very well how hard it is to leave a store with “FIRE SALE” plastered all over its walls (we’re looking at you, Valu$).
Impulse buying is the main reason we overspend, so just walk away. Also, think about the logistics of buying the item. Where are you going to keep it? When will you use it?
4. Look on discount sites
If you really think you need that spa session or cup of bubble tea, there’s always a way to save more and stop overspending. Consider these sites for the following:
- Massage/spa: Fave (Fair warning: Fave vouchers are not for the faint-hearted.)
- Food: Eatigo, Burpple, Chope
- Hotel: Trawl through every travel website (Klook, Agoda, Trip.com, etc), and do not forget about the hotel’s website. If you find a cheaper deal on external websites, you can always call the hotel to bargain. Remember to stack promo codes wherever possible.
- Parking: I wrote this article about free parking in Orchard Road, where I revealed my favourite, free parking places in town available 24/7. For more free/affordable parking at other locations, click here.
Curbing overspending takes practice
Correcting overspending behaviour takes patience and you might have to undergo a lifestyle change by adopting healthier financial habits over time.
However, that doesn’t mean you should ditch your credit card entirely. By all means, swipe your card when necessary to accumulate rewards or cashback. After all, credit cards can be useful financial tools in the hands of the diligent. Overspending will occur when they are used irresponsibly.
In addition, tackling your overspending problems isn’t about cutting out every single non-essential expenditure in your life. After all, you’ve worked hard and you deserve to spend your money to be happy — just remember to be smart about it and avoid spending beyond your means.