Overspending is a common challenge for my clients. Fluctuating categories like groceries, shopping, and travel can catch you off guard if you’re not paying attention and spending with intention. Many people live with the thought that budgeting will be too restrictive, so they don’t track their money at all, leading to shame and buyer’s remorse.
But budgeting isn’t about restriction. It gives you freedom and flexibility and a way to get back on track even when you do overspend. It allows you to ground yourself in the numbers and to avoid getting lost in the emotions that can feel overwhelming around money. Because even with a budget, overspending happens.
It’s all about how you respond to overspending and having helpful tools in place to bring more intention to your spending.
So, in today’s episode, I’m walking you through four common causes of overspending. Then, I’m giving you 10 tips that you can implement to go from feeling reactive about money to being in control of your money. These tips will help you stay grounded in financial reality, while allowing you room to prioritize the financial and personal goals that bring you the most joy.
In this episode, you’ll learn…
- How a budget helps to ground you in reality and gives you flexibility [01:22]
- Four common causes of overspending [05:14]
- Getting specific about what you’re overspending on and being realistic about your numbers [08:54]
- Considering how your emotions play into overspending [12:03]
- Creating joy around spending money on things that you actually want [15:15]
- How a 24-hour pause helps you make a better spending decision [16:52]
- How planning and organization help curb overspending [17:53]
- Making a mini-budget for your vacations, events, and holidays [19:51]
- The benefits of unlinking your cards and spending from one account [21:31]
- Why you should always ask yourself if you’re spending on a need or a want [23:08]
Tune in to this episode to learn how to curb overspending while creating a budget that works for your financial reality.
In the episode…
Identifying common causes of overspending helps you to better understand this hard-to-break habit. In this episode, I’m going to help make it easier for you to curb overspending. There will always be temptations, but you’ll know how to better handle them with the tips I’m sharing.
These tips will help you remove emotions from your spending, plan with a budget, stay organized, and be intentional.
Let’s break down these 10 tips for recognizing overspending and becoming intentional with your money:
Tip #1: Figure out what you’re overspending on.
Get specific about what exactly you’re overspending on. Whether it’s groceries or vacations, write it down and give it a category. Once you identify categories where you’re overspending, see how the amount factors into your budget. Are you overspending because you’ve never thought about how much you want to spend on groceries? Or maybe because you haven’t factored in that you always get a manicure and pedicure before you go out of town?
Tip #2: Ask yourself if your numbers are realistic.
Once you have those overspending categories in front of you, if you have a budget, take a look at whether or not your numbers for these categories are realistic. The amount you budget for and your reality might not be the same. Pay attention to how much you’re actually spending so you can adjust your numbers as needed. Maybe your grocery budget is $200/month, but you’re realistically spending $400/month because grocery costs have gone up and you cook a lot. This is an opportunity to adjust your categories and learn from your spending.
Tip #3: Think about your emotions that can lead to overspending.
Overspending can happen as a result of your mood. Try this exercise: For a week, track everything you buy that you didn’t plan to spend money on. Monitor how you’re feeling before or after the purchase. This can help you connect your emotions with your actions so you can be more present. Asking yourself what you need in the moment can help you make a different decision that doesn’t involve spending money.
Tip #4: Create a joy list.
What actually brings you joy? Create a list of at least five ways you spend your time that bring you joy. Maybe it’s a solo dance party, catching an early sunrise or sunset, scheduling a weekend hike, or catching up with a friend on the phone after a long week. Oftentimes overspending can be connected to our emotions so having a joy list can help you engage in something that will truly uplift your mood.
Tip #5: Give yourself a 24-hour pause.
If you’re someone who gets sucked into targeted social media ads or mindless internet shopping, I want you to practice giving yourself 24 hours before making the purchase. You can then come back to it and ask yourself if you really need it. This not only helps you practice patience and intentionality, it also helps to combat feelings of instant gratification.
Tip #6: Get better at planning and organizing.
When you plan ahead, you set yourself up to make better decisions. If you meal-plan, you’ll cut down on food waste. If you know what’s in your freezer and your pantry before you go to the grocery, you’re much less likely to make duplicate purchases. Home organization helps keep you from overspending for the same reason. Take stock of what you have and stay organized.
Tip #7: Make a mini-budget.
If you’re going on vacation, or you’re planning a party, or you have friends in town—anything outside of your normal schedule—make a mini-budget. Think about what you want to spend and give it a specific number. Vacation doesn’t mean that you just spend a lot of money without paying attention. This tip allows you to be more intentional with your spending and to have a frame of reference for how you want to spend.
Tip #8: Make things inaccessible.
I want you to unlink your credit or debit cards from any online automatic payments (that are not your bills). Whether it’s Amazon or UberEats or Target … having to take an extra step to make that purchase gives you time to ask yourself if it’s something you really need or want. This is related to both mood and lack of planning. You may make a split-second purchase because you’re bored or you didn’t plan dinner. There are so many different places where you spend money mindlessly, so this helps you to be more aware of your actions.
Tip #9: Spend from one account.
When you spend from multiple accounts, it’s difficult to track, and you might be less likely to want to keep up with it. Whether it’s your credit card or your debit card, spending from one account makes it easier to see where your money is going on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Tip #10: Understand needs vs. wants.
With all of your purchases, ask yourself if it’s a need or a want. This isn’t about restricting you; I want you to spend money on what you want to spend it on, whether it’s a daily latte or weekly lunch at your favorite restaurant or a monthly manicure. Often we give into instant gratification or a sale before even considering if the purchase is something we need or want. Checking in with yourself builds a positive habit around being intentional with your spending.
Here are the takeaways that I want you to remember from this episode:
- Budgeting is not restrictive. It helps you spend on what you truly need and want
- Overspending is highly linked to emotions and mood
- Being intentional with your money means paying attention to how you’re spending
- Flexibility helps you get through the ups and downs of your money relationship
- You can both be in control and get joy out of how you spend your money
Are you ready to break your overspending habit? Apply to work with me, and let’s change your relationship with money.
Transcript for “How to Navigate Overspending Without Guilt:”
Hi and welcome to Money Files. I’m Keina Newell from Wealth Over Now. I work every day with professional women and solopreneurs to help them get out of financial overwhelm and shame so they can experience more flexibility and ease with their finances. Are you ready to gain confidence and learn to manage your finances intentionally? Tune in and grab financial tips that will help you master the way you think about and manage your finances.
Hello and welcome back to another episode of Money Files. So today I want to talk to you about overspending. I see this come up all the time as a challenge that my clients have. And maybe you also are challenged with overspending. I think overspending generally happens in a lot of our disposable income categories. And when I talk about disposable income, I am thinking about the things that fluctuate often for us, whether it be buying groceries or you’re shopping for clothes, or maybe you are dining out or you’re taking trips. Those are the things that generally catch us off guard and make our budgets feel a little bit unstable, if you will. Our bank accounts feel a little unstable. And when I’m working with clients and helping them address overspending, it’s really going back to and like for me as a coach, it’s really about grounding in the numbers and grounding in reality.
I just think that there are a lot of people out there that they’re lying to themselves. And I think that people are living a lie when they choose not to budget. And when I say living a lie, there’s a thought that people have when we talk about budgeting and they think that budgeting is going to be restrictive and they won’t be able to have fun or they won’t be able to do what they desire to do. And then I asked them about their current lives. And I’m like, Are you able to do what you desire to do right now? Guilt free? And the answer is generally no. There’s a lot of like buyer’s remorse and shame and I shouldn’t of or I wish I had of like reflection points for people when it comes to managing their money.
And so when you have a budget, the budget helps you actually ground in what’s happening and it creates a space for you to have some flexibility. So I’ll just give you my budget, for instance. I think I’m very prone to overspending, especially at the grocery store, because I feel like the grocery store is like a free for all. If that’s free money, who can deny themselves of food, right? But because I have a budget that I proactively manage, I can also know how to shift and how to adjust my spending when I am thinking about what’s the impact of me overspending? And I use the word overspending very loosely when I’m thinking about my own personal budget. But like, you know what, What does it look like if I am overspending in my grocery category? Because I have people in town and I’m buying for more than one person or whatever that may look like.
And so by having a budget, I’m easily able to assess where there’s flexibility and where I can shift things around to still make sure that I’m hitting the financial goals that I’ve set for myself. And having a budget allows me to also take any emotion out of what that may mean about me or what does it mean about my ability to manage money. And I think the same would be true for my clients.
I actually I asked a couple of weeks ago, I celebrated four years in business and I asked clients to share with me one of their biggest wins and their best result that they’ve had since working with me. And I want to share this with you, and then I’m going to go into more about helping you manage your overspending. But my client, Brent said that for him, he said that his best result was taking all the emotions out of money. I now just do it and I’ve integrated my money dates into regular life. When I do overspend, I just look at the big picture and adjust. No more emotional breakdowns about being a financial failure in my life. And he put financial failure in quotes, but that’s really what it’s about.
When we’re overspending, which it happens. I would just normalize that it happens. My question would be like, what’s your response when that happens? And when you have financial tools, you’re actually able to adjust and get back on track. So Brett says that he looks at his bigger picture, he adjusts and he moves on, and that is really about being able to feel like you’re in control. It’s about having peace of mind about your finances and not feeling like you have to attach your overspending to your value or your worth as a person.
So overspending, I would say that there are some direct causes of overspending. And the ones that I came up with when I was thinking about this episode is like being in the moment. Whenever we’re in the moment, say, I think my favorite one is like right now, because it’s warm outside, being outside and like you and your friends decide to grab lunch and then after you grab lunch, you’re like, Oh, let’s go get ice cream. Then you go get ice cream and maybe you end up at somebody’s happy hour. Right? But you have this whole day that you’re just outside in the streets and you’re living in the moment because the weather’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful summer afternoon that goes into a summer night. And so you’re caught up in the moment.
I think another thing that contributes to overspending is a lack of planning. I think this is really attached to when I think about like the grocery store. One of the things I was just talking to a client last week and we were talking about her grocery budget and yes, grocery prices have gone up, but I have to do this with myself is like before I go to the grocery store, I actually like for me to to be thoughtful about what I’m buying. It’s helpful for me to actually take stock of what I have in the cabinets, what I have in my fridge, or what I have in my freezer. Because otherwise that’s how you end up with like two or three bottles of ketchup and extra mustard or buying produce that you actually had produce in your produce drawer. And so you’re overspending even if you’re not necessarily going over budget, but you’re just spending more money than you need to because you haven’t actually taken stock of what’s in your house.
A third thing that I think about that causes overspending is being disorganized. That could look like in your like in your personal life, in your home, not knowing where batteries are. My friend Katie would love that I’m talking about this because she is a home organizer and she talks about how her service has really helped save her clients money. And she’s actually come into my house and helped me organize my space. But like knowing where everything is in my house, like knowing where all of my notebooks are, knowing where all of my candles are, and knowing where all of my overstock of batteries are helps me not overbuy and over purchase things. So ultimately it’s helping me not overspend.
And then the third or excuse me, the fourth thing that I would say that goes into overspending is mood swings. Like just thinking about your overall emotional state. Like when you’re happy, when you’re sad, when you’re bored. Like, how did those impacts, how you spend money in your life? And maybe you’ve never actually thought about that. Like, how does your mood affect how you spend money? Now will be an interesting one for you to watch if you’ve never thought about how that impacts your personal life.
And I actually, in the show notes will link my financial habit tracker. You can track your finances for five days. And I have some like emotional financial habit tracking questions in there for you. But it’s very fascinating to kind of watch how what’s planned and unplanned based on where you are emotionally.
So I just talked about four causes of overspending being in the moment, a lack of planning, disorganization and mood swings. And so my goal today is really to help you just bring some awareness on what’s going on in your life and what are you doing. Because I think when you light up the area of overspending in your life, then you can start to take control of what’s happening.
So first I want you to think about in your life, what are you overspending on? Like if you just had to jot down the categories? What are you overspending on in your life? So I gave you a couple in the beginning of this episode. Maybe it’s groceries, maybe it’s trips, and you’re not allowed to say everything. Just really think about what is it specifically that you’re overspending on? If you had to give it a category, what is it? As you look at those categories, I want you to ask yourself and I’m assuming here maybe you are budgeting, maybe you’re not budgeting, but if you’re thinking about budgeting, you’re like, That’s the next step i’m going to take, Keina, I’m going to start budgeting. I want you to think about like, where are those numbers in your budget? Like, have you even considered those things with how you plan to spend your money month to month? Because some of it may just be the fact that you’re overspending because you’ve never actually thought about the fact that you want to spend $500 on groceries every month or you haven’t thought about that you like to get your hair done before you go out of town.
And so because of the things that we just sometimes don’t pay attention to when we haven’t lit up in our life, we’re going to overspend on those things because we haven’t acknowledged them. So when you think about those categories that you have in front of you, and if you do have a budget, I want you to ask yourself, like, are my numbers real for these categories? I think that this is a common mistake that people have when they’re budgeting. Is that like I have a client, I remember when we were budgeting together, like in our first run through of her budget, she told me she was going to spend $200 on groceries. And I told her, listen, I don’t want to be negative. I don’t want you to hear this as negative. But I don’t think $200 a month is realistic because as I’m looking at it, that’s $50 a week. So if you thought about your grocery bills per week, does $50 really reflect how much you’re spending when you go to the grocery store. Right.
And so some of overspending is really just asking yourself, are my numbers realistic? Because there’s the amount that you have budgeted and then there’s actually reality. And so if you think about what’s the reality, is that what you’re putting into your into your budget? Are you putting this, like, hopeful number that you think just sounds good? Like, Yeah, I should only be spending $200. That sounds like enough. Hear me in this conversation. I’m not talking about, like, what you should have for your grocery budget or what you should have for your clothing budget. But I just want you to think about like, what’s what’s actually happening. Because then that’s going to actually help you shape your numbers and help you evaluate and adjust over time. Like maybe you do want to spend $300 a month on clothes and maybe you don’t have that disposable income to spend $300 a month on clothes. But over time, you can shift that number and shift what that looks like for yourself, because you have sat down and you thought about the actual real number instead of just some number. That sounds good, right? So first thing, you’ve written down these categories that you overspend, you’re asking yourself, are these numbers real? Do they make sense? And what do I have budgeted versus like what my reality is?
So another tip that I have for you is in overspending. I want you to think about your emotions. Remember I told you one of the causes of overspending is your mood. And so an exercise that you can do is to think this week, if it’s something that you have a plan to spend money on, I want you to track what you’re buying. Okay. Like, if you didn’t plan an iced coffee, track it. If you didn’t plan in the UberEats track it, if you didn’t plan to shop on Amazon. Track that. And I want you to monitor how you’re feeling before you go and make that purchase. Or if you’ve already made the purchase, think about how were you feeling? And you can also prompt yourself moving forward after you just kind of take stock of where you are in your emotions. But think about like what are the trends that you see? So when I feel blank, I tend to blank. So maybe when you feel bored you tend to shop. Or when you feel really tired you tend to order food out.
So just being able to connect an emotion with the action that you actually take will help you monitor and curb your overspending. So you might just be able to catch yourself in the moment to be like, Oh my goodness, I’m like really tired right now. And that’s why I’m trying to order UberEats. But I remembered that I have something in the freezer that’s easy for me to prepare. So you might be able to just like kick yourself out of that cycle because of the fact that you’re aware of it and you’re not ignoring it. You can also ask yourself if you’re in one of those in one of those places, like, what do I need in this moment? Okay, so maybe you’re bored, maybe you’re really tired, maybe you’re feeling really lazy. Asking yourself what you need in the moment can also prompt you to do something different.
A great example. The other day I just remember feeling really tired. And what my body actually needed was movement. And it sounds very counterintuitive, but I know myself. So I went out and I went on a run and moved my body for 30 minutes and that shifted my mood and just ultimately is going to help me make better decisions because of one small choice that I made in that moment. And then another prompt that you can also ask yourself is like, is this the tradeoff I want to make? So if you’re thinking about spending money asking yourself like, Is this actually what I want to spend money on? Like, what is the impact of this decision? And you would be really surprised at how taking an extra 60 seconds can help you think about how you’re actually spending money. Because we spend money so mindlessly because everything is so connected. Your credit cards are on your phone. They’re on your watch, they’re on your computer, they’re hooked into Amazon. And so it’s so easy to get instant gratification. So being able to check in with yourself in moments before you spend will help you be more in tune with what you actually need and if you’re actually aware of the decision that you’re making at that time.
Another tip that I have for curbing overspending that is tied to your emotions is creating a joy list. I think that this really helps, especially if you’re someone who finds yourself spending money when you’re bored, or maybe you’re actually feeling really lazy or tired, but just thinking about like, what are the things that you when you’re spending money on on things? What is the thing that you actually want? Maybe you’re going out to brunch and what you want is connecting. You want to be able to connect with people and you don’t actually have to go out to brunch to connect with people, especially if the brunch is subpar and not even really worth the money that you’re spending.
And so maybe on your joy list, you write that you like to hike with friends, or maybe you want to have like a potluck dinner. So you still get the connection in the community that you desire from being with your friends, but you may not have the same financial impact in your life if you know that you spend money when you’re bored or you’re lonely. But maybe like having a dance party is something that brings you joy. Or maybe you like to go out and watch the sunrise or the sunset. Like you can create this joy list and really think about How do I intentionally plan those times during my week to really support my mood and really think about where I am in the moment and what I need so that that way, going back to overspending and your mood and emotions, you can make better decisions in that time for for yourself.
Another tip, especially when we think about mood swings, is to give yourself a 24 hour pause. If you’re someone who maybe you’re scrolling through Instagram late at night or, you know, the ads that are targeting you because they’re listening to all of your conversations and you realize like, wow, I’m adding things took a cart that I don’t even know that I need. You know, somebody posted about a 50% off discount. And now here I am down this rabbit hole. Give yourself 24 hours and you can come back and ask like, do I actually need this? And that could 100% shift all of your overspending because you’re giving yourself 24 hours before you buy and you’re actually inserting like patience instead of instant gratification, which just by nature of the world that we live in, instant gratification is the thing that is there all the time. And it takes a while. It takes a moment for us to actually stop and think about like, is this what I want to be doing?
So another cause that we talked about of overspending was lack of planning, right? If you looked at your list, think about what’s on that list and what maybe is connected in your categories, that comes from a lack of planning. One of the tips that I shared earlier in the podcast was like, you know, making it a non-negotiable that you’ll shop your pantries before you actually go to the grocery store. If you take the time to do that. And, you know, meal plan, one of my tips for that I would give to you is like I when I go to the grocery store, I started buying food only for three days because I change my mind on what I want to eat. So if I can think of like a couple of meals that I want, it helps me like hone in on what I’m going to get at the grocery store and not put a whole bunch of extra stuff in my cart with hopes that I’ll make it. I find that if I don’t do that, that’s how I get a whole bunch of groceries that I waste. And then I’ve wasted money. And I potentially have overspent because now I’m back at the grocery store buying stuff because I don’t actually want the stuff that I purchased. Okay. So meal planning, shopping, your cabinets, it’s extremely helpful. You can also think of going back and thinking about my friend Katie. Like thinking in your house. How are things organized? Like, put things, give them the same home. You’re like, Keina, this is not an organizing show. I know, but what I’m telling you is having a home for my things has really helped. Like, all of my candles have a home in one specific closet, so it helps me not go to TJ Maxx or Target and buy a whole bunch of extra candles. Because I can visually see that I have enough candles so I don’t need to buy any more. I can visually see in a basket all of my notebooks I’m not allowed to buy anymore. And so it just improves my self-talk when I’m out and about at a TJ Maxx or at a Target. And I think that I’m passing up something that I can’t possibly pass up, right? So just take stock and organize your life in that way.
The other tip that I would have in terms of planning, I oftentimes see that when people go on trips, this is another place where they overspend. Or maybe you have people in town for the weekend, something that kind of like out of your normal routine. But here’s what I would suggest, that you make a mini budget. All right. So say you’re going on a trip, you have people coming into town. Think about how much money you actually want to spend. I’m committed to spending $500, 1500 dollars, whatever it is. Put a number to it. When you actually sit down and think about what it is that you need, even if you were to spend a little bit over whatever you projected, it just brings a different amount of awareness to your actual being about how you want to spend money.
It’s a moment where you’re taking that time for yourself to be intentional with your finances and not just allowing something to happen to you because you’re on vacation. And so vacation just means that you spend a lot of money. Vacation doesn’t have to mean that you spend a lot of money, but just sitting down and thinking about, you know, how much is that going to cost me? What is my airport transfers? How much do I want to be spending on food? How much do I want to spend on excursions? And so by taking that extra moment, you’re going to have a mini budget that’s going to help you. So you can also use this same technique for the holidays. Maybe you’re planning a party or you’re planning gifts that you’re going to buy, but sit down and actually write a mini budget. And that mini budget is going to help frame how you want to spend money. It’s going to help you be more thoughtful and more intentional and not just your finances happening to you.
And then the last two things that I would throw in here for our conversation on overspending, and I think this goes for your mood being in the moment, lack of planning, whatever any of those buckets is, make things inaccessible. So when I talk about making things inaccessible, like unlink your credit cards from Amazon, unlink your credit cards from UberEats like the things that you automatically go and do. If you have to take one extra second to do it, that could be the time that you use to ask yourself like, Do I actually need this? Is this something that I want? What do I need right now? And by unlinking your credit cards that can shift how you spend money or even unlinking your debit card. I just think about all the different ways that money passes through your life. Attaching to making things inaccessible by linking your credit cards. Think about how you spend. Do you use multiple credit cards? Do you use a debit card. I think that’s another thing that leads to overspending because we’re spending money from so many different places that we don’t pay attention to how much money we’re really spending.
So the other thing that you can think about doing in terms of overspending is be spending from one account. If you have a credit card, maybe you only spend from one credit card. So everything is in one place. If you’re spending from your checking account, making sure that you’re just using your debit card because everything is in one place and it makes it accessible for you to be looking at on a weekly basis, on a daily basis. So you can see where is money going in my life day to day.
And lastly, I would leave you with always asking yourself like, is this a need or is this a want? I think it’s a great question to ask. I think it’s a question we don’t ask often enough. And it’s not a matter of being restrictive, but just thinking about when it comes to overspending, especially on clothes and I’m so guilty of this, I have bought things that just because they were on sale and I had great intentions. And then you look in your closet and you have something that still has the tags on it. And so now you spend $50, $40, $30, $20 because you didn’t actually check in with yourself to see like, is this a need or want? And you were just being in the moment or you had some type of mood and you thought that that thing needed to come home with you.
So I hope that something I said today resonated with you. I know I jumped around. On a couple of different places. But I just wanted to talk about overspending in a way that hopefully when you think about it, you are like, Yes, I can take this tip, I can take this tool and I can implement it. So I feel like my money and my finances aren’t just happening to me.
So I hope that you have a fabulous Tuesday if you’re listening to this when it comes out, if you haven’t already, I would love it if you would subscribe to my podcast and also leave a comment, leave a review. I would love to hear from you. And if you are ready to work with me one on one to gain peace of mind with your finances, you can go to www.wealthovernow.com/appointment and we will spend 45 minutes on a console talking about you and your relationship with money. And I will help you make a decision about coaching, but until then, I will talk to you later. Bye.
Thank you so much for listening to Money Files. If you’re ready to take the next step to reach your financial goals, head to www.wealthovernow.com/appointment and let’s get started.