How to Stop Overspending

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Spending money is a necessary activity, so it can be difficult with people who have problems with shopping addiction to stop spending money because you need to keep on shopping while you try and get your addiction under control. To make matters worse, compulsive shopping is not recognized as a distinct disorder, although it can be a symptom of other mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder.

Therefore, it is important to see your doctor to rule out another treatable problem. In the meantime, this article discussed some of the general principles of preventing your spending habits from causing you serious problems.

Cover Your Living Expenses First

It doesn't matter whether you are scraping by on welfare or living a life of luxury, before you spend anything, pay your monthly bills. You know, those tedious yet essential expenses like rent, electricity and food. If there are any non-essentials you take for granted, such as phone, Internet and travel expenses, pay for them upfront, too.

Food is the trickiest purchase to get right because you need fresh food at least once a week. So stock up on non-perishable food at the beginning of the month, and set aside an amount you can afford each week to cover fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products.

Avoid Getting into Debt

The most common fuel for overshopping is the credit card.

It is quick and easy, so you can easily make an impulse buy. With the "buy now, pay later" concept, you can drain your account for next month as well as this month. So when you head to the shops, take with you only the cash you can afford to spend.

Clearing your credit card debt and ditching your credit cards will also help improve your credit rating, which can have an impact on far more than your future access to credit.

Keep Track of Your Spending

Start by making a spending plan, then try to stick to it. If you have a tendency to spend anything left over after covering what is included in your spending plan, at least start to make a mental note -- a written note is even better -- of what you overspend on. If it is non-essential (such as extra clothing, shoes or other accessories, or electronics), set yourself a limit -- how many of each you can afford, in terms of money, storage and emotional cost. Keep all of your receipts.

If you find you have overspent on an unnecessary purchase, return what you can. And for anything you just cannot bear to take back, give up its predecessor (if you just have to have those designer shoes you found for $100, donate the scuffed pair that were a lesser brand to charity). At least you won't be overwhelmed with your own hoarding, and you will be more likely to actually use what you buy.

Don't Be Lured by Discounts

Shopaholics are prone to being tempted by discounts. They seem to be a way you can have your cake and eat it too -- you may even feel you are saving money by spending on something with a discount.

In realtiy, you're still going to be out of pocket.

So each time you are tempted by an apparent bargain, ask yourself, "Do I need it?" and "Is it worth full price?" Only if the answer is yes to both, should you even consider it.


DeSarbo, W. & Edwards, E. "Typologies of compulsive buying behavior: A constrained clusterwise regression approach." Journal of Consumer Psychology, 5:231-262. 2008.

Benson, A. To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop. London: Trumpeter. 2008.

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