When you’re spending is out of control, managing your money can feel like you’re in the driver’s seat of a car that’s had its steering wheel torn off and its brakes cut. You’re hurtling downhill fast, and there’s no escape. You can only hope that you make it to the bottom safe and sound, but it’s looking less likely with every day that passes.
It’s only a matter of time when the consequences of your spending catch up with you. Thankfully, they won’t climax in a crash worthy of Thelma and Louise, but the resulting financial collision when you’ve hit your limit can have a concussive impact on your life. If you expect to survive it, you need to do all that you can to alter your course before you hit rock bottom. If you’re tired of feeling like you’re being taken for a ride, settle in with this guide to find out how you can reconnect the brakes and put your overspending to a halt.
Recognize that overspending doesn’t just happen
With seemingly no control over what happens with your money, it’s easy to give up and let the worst happen. For those of you who aren’t adrenaline junkies, this approach to finances leaves you feeling sick and anxious as you await the inevitable crash.
Helplessness is your biggest saboteur. It strips you of the confidence you need to take on your finances. And let’s face it, you need to be brave to accept the responsibility for your actions and braver still to right the wrongs you’ve done in the past. There aren’t magical gnomes that go through your wallet at night and steal the bills from its folds, nor are there are any creatures racking up credit on each of your cards. That lands on you. But don’t play the blame game too hard. When you focus too much on your mistakes, you can demotivate yourself from finding a solution.
Identify what tempts you to spend money
For you, overspending may have started with New Year’s, when you made sure you were ringing in 2018 with a bang. Maybe it continued in February, when you ate and drank your fill at your local Super Bowl LII tailgate party, then again when you spoiled your special someone on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps the twin siren’s call of the NCAA Men’s tourney and Spring Break separated you from your cash. And there’s even more spending in your future, as each month arrives with its own temptations.
Or your overspending looks entirely different. The little ways individuals waste their hard-earned cash usually varies from person to person, as each of us have our unique weaknesses. Yours may not be big events like New Year’s or Spring Break. Your temptations could be small, inconsequential purchases that mean next to nothing on their own but amount to hundreds, maybe even thousands once you tally them together.
Start relying on a budget
A budget can help you identify these smaller purchases that you may not be aware you’re making because it’s a way of tracking exactly where your money goes each month. Experts suggest you look through your various financial accounts as far back as six months. Don’t just look at your bank account, as this won’t give you a complete picture of your finances. You need to incorporate your credit cards, auto or student loans, as well as any online cash loans you’ve relied on in the past. Assign each withdrawal to a category and average the amount you spent in each one over the last six months.
This should give you an idea how much you spent on takeout, clothes, entertainment, and other invariable costs that put your finances at risk. Once you’ve revealed which category wastes the most amount of money, you can put a stop to these purchases.
Look for help and motivation online
Unfortunately, that’s the hardest part. You’ve made a habit out of overspending. Experts say that habits can take as many as 66 days to break. That’s a long time for special events and shopping to tempt you to spend. If you’re worried about you’re the strength of your willpower, it’s important to surround yourself with support.
Don’t worry if there’s no one in your life with whom you can talk openly about your finances. There are countless others struggling with their budgets just like you, and many of them are only a click away. Search out like-minded people by going through financial blogs and community boards. Some users will share their own success stories, proving that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. More will simply vent their frustrations — and even this can be helpful as you commiserate over shared experiences.
Expand your circle to include other sources of information. Websites like Investopedia, NerdWallet, and Wise Bread are great sources of general advice that benefits people of all walks of life. These sites run the gamut of topics, including taxes (helpful for anyone preparing to take on Trump’s recent changes), real estate, and investing.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and have relied on payday loans in the past, real estate and investing may be topics far from your mind. When you’re more concerned about breaking even, you need tailored content that reflects your situation. In that case, add MoneyKey to the list of websites to visit. As a direct online lender, their customers often face financial emergencies without any safety nets.By working closely with these people, they understand how stressful being short on bills can be. That’s why they developed a practical resource guide for those living with especially tight budgets. Not only can you learn more about payday loans on their site, but with a few clicks of your mouse, you can also find actionable savings guides and budget tips designed for people who have very little financial leverage.
Not all financial advice is relevant to your situation. It’s important that you take the time to find those people and organizations that deliver practical guidance. Finding a support network that works for you won’t be easy nor will it offer an immediate solution. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, commitment, and sacrifice — just like sticking to a budget will. But it’s all worth it when you can take back control of your finances and steer yourself clear of any disasters.