Did you ever wonder why you are always on the survival mode when it comes money?

That feeling when you cannot properly do budgeting or when your paycheck and allowance easily slip away from your palm but you don’t know where it went next.

This usually happens when you are not in control of your spending.

Breaking free from negative spending habits is not easy.

If you think that overspending is a habit you can break anytime you want since you are earning above average, you need to reconsider.

In fact, Psychology Today shared that we do compulsive spending regardless of how much we earn which sometimes end up asking financial assistance from a licensed money lender. We buy stuff not because we have money to burn, but because shopping things we love simply makes us feel better temporarily.

Curbing bad money habits is more than just repeating a mantra. It needs a systematic approach.

If you’re not confident about your spending habits and want to get out of this serious money problem, these 10 actionable steps from leading financial experts can help you.

Track Your Expenses

You need to create a ledger and list down all of your expenses up to the last cent. Separate your expenses into three categories:

  • Fixed expenses – These expenses are constant such as your house rent or your installment for a payday loan.
  • Fluctuating expenses – These are bills that can change depending on your use such as your utility bills.
  • Avoidable expenses – Certain expenses highly depends on your preference. You can either buy your lunch or bring a homemade meal instead.
  • Frivolous expenses – These are expensive items and services you seldom spend for.

Identify Your Spending Triggers

Each person has his own spending trigger. Nevertheless, an emotional trigger applies to most of us. Whether it be the fear of missing out (FOMO), your short-term therapy, or a pang of nostalgia these are all tied to our emotions.

Start writing a diary or a journal. There is no other way around this but to sit with a pen and paper and write why you had a sudden need to spend. What are the emotions that trigger you to buy things? Where do you usually spend your money? How do you feel about your purchase after a day or two?


Now that you have identified your shopping triggers, you must now avoid them as much as possible or find other ways to control it. Let’s say you got too stressed out at work, then you can spend some time reading a good book, watching a funny video on YouTube, do some crafts or take a long warm shower.

Create Your Spending Plan

Dr. Bradley Klontz shared that our brains react to the word “budget” the same way as it reacts to “diet”. This means we usually fail in budgeting because our brains correlate it with self-deprivation.

With the budget, you tell where your money should go. On the other hand, the spending plan should have a more realistic goal. Instead of focusing on self-deprivation, you need to focus on your rewards.

It is a much detailed approach since you also need to include the specific expense, how much and the short-term goals.

Consider a cash loan that you need to pay for the next six months. You have to write the monthly installment, how much more you have to pay, and when it will be fully settled. The reward is you will be debt free and you can assign the money for installments to other expenses or savings.

If you want to go on a vacation, you need to include how much is your monthly savings for it, how much is your goal and your destination.

Give Every Dollar a Job

Dave Ramsey revealed that people who do a “zero-based budget” can pay off more debt and save 18% more money compared to those who don’t.

The zero-based budget means that you should meticulously plan where every dollar goes. Loose change can be spent on unplanned expenses.

After you make a spending plan, you may realize that there’s some cash left. Whether it is $5 or $500, you need to put is in your investment, vacation plan, or savings. Don’t just leave it hanging around so you can freely grab it when you suddenly get your shopping urge.

Use Hard Cold Cash

If you previously had a credit card debt, then it is evident that you need to spend in cash instead of swiping the plastic card.

Manoj Thomas of Cornell University studied consumer behavior and found out that paying in cash can curb impulsive urges since it induces emotional pain. You can actually see your money leaving your hands. On the other hand, paying with a credit card is relatively painless.

Using a credit card can help you build your credit score, but if it keeps triggering your shopping urges, then it defeats the purpose. When you go shopping for groceries, make sure to leave your credit card at home.

Pay Yourself First

Every time you get your salary, make sure to set aside your savings first. Save it and forget that it existed. If you can, arrange for an automatic bank transfer from your payroll account to your savings account. This way you can get used to surviving without needing that extra cash.

Another way to make yourself feel better when saving up is to think of your future self. You are giving your money to your future so you will not have a hard time should an emergency comes or you have finally decided to make an investment.

Create a Sinking Fund

A sinking fund is your savings for your planned expense such as a vacation, a downpayment for a home or to buy a new car. These activities can disrupt your cash flow, but if you have a sinking fund, you can minimize the financial impact. This will keep you from spending your emergency funds or your personal savings.

Ask Your Loved Ones to Check Your Progress

Thomas S. Monson shared that when performance is reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.

You may be having a personal spending issue, but you need to share the burden with someone you trust. This is to have someone who can give you a morale boost.

The motivation from the people you care for is empowering amidst financial struggles. Ask your loved ones to check on your spending habit regularly.

Celebrate Your Progress

Another way to keep yourself motivated it to reward yourself every time you reach your budgetary goals. This will help you ease the feeling of self-deprivation.

Too much self-deprivation from the things you used to love buying can backfire. Reward yourself every time you reach a goal in your spending plan.

Get Professional Help

Feeling like you need professional help to get into better financial health? Then, you should do so.

You may feel ashamed about your overspending habits for now, but not addressing it will surely bring worse financial dilemmas. A financial planner can help you get back to the track and avoid relapse.

Final Thoughts

Restructuring your spending habits is overwhelming.

It is a daily work in progress that involves self-control, focus, and motivation. Your overspending habits will not change overnight, but it will surely be worth it once you get to save for your future and enjoy your hard earned money.

Published by Mohsin Ahsan