Help Pam stop overspending

An Advice Team writer wrote today asking how she can stop spending so much money. I always find this seemingly simple question difficult to answer; overspending issues require you to inject some right-brain thinking into traditionally left-brain territory. Following is my attempt to help this consumer develop some wallet-healthy habits.

Dear Pam,

If yours is willpower issue and not a true spending addition, I offer the following ideas to help you kick the spending habit.

Bring awareness to the problem. Get a notebook and start keeping track of your spending. The simple act of writing down each and every purchase is enough to make some people change their habits.

Identify your patterns. Are you more susceptible to overspending at a certain time of day/month/year? Do you shop when you are happy/angry/stressed? Identifying your weakest moments can help you prepare for them.

Keep temptation to a minimum. When you are done shopping, stop shopping! Shopping should not be considered a recreational sport.

Stop using credit. Try living on a cash basis 100%. According to Debtor’s Anonymous, some people get a different feeling when buying things on credit than when paying cash, a feeling of being in the club, of being accepted, of being grown up.

Pick up a habit to kick a habit. Fill your time with activities that are more beneficial to you and your bank account. For example, take a walk with a friend or volunteer for a charitable organization.

Market to yourself. Set realistic goals and remind yourself of your goals on a regular basis. Try sending yourself encouraging notes, voicemail messages, and emails.

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Talk to your friends and loved ones about your desire to change. If you are truly unable to break the habit on your own, consider working with a professional counselor or life coach.

Good luck,

The Advice Team

If you have some additional ideas that might help Pam, please share them through the comments section.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.