Overspending isn’t uncommon, but the first step to managing it is to understand why it happens. Our budget is there to support us, and to direct money where it is needed the most. There will be some months where the plan doesn’t quite work, and it happens to everyone. As far as I’m aware, I don’t think anybody can say they 100% stick to their budget every single month.
There is always something that causes us to go off track.
It might be a regular expense that you neglected to plan for. In this case, you can make amends and add this into your budget for the next month. But there are also lots of subconscious reasons why we might be overspending. Certainly, if you don’t keep a budget at all and you don’t understand where your money goes, this post is a good one for you to look at what might be affecting you when it comes to money.
In my view, there are six main reasons why we might be overspending and blowing our budgets. You might have the biggest, most important reason in the world to you for sticking to a budget. Perhaps you want to save a deposit for a new house, build an emergency fund, or start a maternity fund.
Yet, there is always something stopping you from building that fund. You find yourself regularly dipping into it because you’ve overspent in a particular area.
Enter the Chimp
If you’ve ever read The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that subconsciously, your Chimp is running the show. There are two different parts to our brain. The old part is the Chimp, and the newer, modern aspect is the human. The human part of the brain is the one that makes all the positive decisions, like wanting to lose weight, save money, or get out of debt.
The Chimp on the other hand, doesn’t care about your goals and plans. The Chimp does what it wants. So, if the Chimp wants to spend money, it is going to spend money. If your chimp doesn’t agree with the fact that you need to keep to a budget, you won’t stick to a budget. Professor Steve Peters talks about The Chimp Paradox in the book and on YouTube, including ways you can tame the monkey.
With this in mind, it’s really helpful to look at the following reasons and triggers for why you’re overspending so you can look at ways to manage this. The six reasons I’ve outlined below conveniently start with the letter ‘C’ to make them easier to remember. I can certainly see myself in many of these, if not all of them.
Cover Up Emotion
Guilt or shame are powerful emotions, and the first reason you might overspend is to cover up these feelings. Let’s say you’ve been working really late all week and haven’t seen your other half. So, you spend some money to buy them a present. Or perhaps you haven’t seen your kids all week and you buy them a gift to sway some of the guilt in an attempt to make yourself feel better. I’ve certainly spoken to people like that who’ve done this with their own children.
We love a reason to celebrate. It could be a birthday in lockdown, or it could just be because it’s a Friday night. I love buying a takeaway on a Friday evening. It’s the end of the week and I really enjoy that time with my other half with our sofa, Netflix and takeaway. Will we continue to do that every single Friday? Well, it’s become a habit if I’m honest. We don’t overspend here though; it’s in our budget and we enjoy it.
However, if you feel you must buy something “just because”, or you tell yourself “I deserve those shoes/that top”, then that might be something to explore when it comes to overspending.
We want people to like us, and as human beings, that’s been the case for hundreds and thousands of years. We need to feel connection to others, because that’s what keeps us safe. Deep down, when you want people to like you, you’re much more likely to overspend. (Though you might not want to admit it to yourself.) An example of this might include buying a round of drinks in the pub when you don’t actually have the money to do that.
I’ve certainly been in that situation before where I’ve been the first one to stick my hand in my pocket and buy a round of drinks. It was almost like it was expected; she’s The Doctor, she can afford it. She can put her money on the table. So, because I didn’t want to be seen as stingy or tight, I just went along with it.
When you’re not feeling good enough, you can feel like you need to compensate for that. Perhaps you tell yourself you’re not thin enough, or you’re not pretty enough. Maybe you just literally don’t feel good enough in any sense. You don’t have enough knowledge, or enough influence. So, you try to do things to compensate for that.
It might be going to get your hair or nails done, or it might be making sure your eyebrows are well-groomed. Maybe you always have to have the latest outfits. There could be any number of reasons why you feel you must compensate for what you view as your shortcomings.
It might be that you run a business and you don’t feel good enough. You have a serious case of imposter syndrome. So you buy another course, or hire another coach, or you have to do something else before you can run your business or see any level of success. I definitely see that in myself as well.
Spending money because you feel bad about yourself in some way is another reason for overspending. This isn’t quite the same as not feeling good enough. It’s more a case of you feeling down, or sad. Perhaps you’ve had a rubbish week. Everything’s going wrong, nothing has quite gone to plan, so you buy something to make yourself feel better.
Maybe you’re bored and are spending money to console yourself. Certainly, in lockdown, a lot of people were buying all sorts of things to relieve the boredom. Where do you think you might be overspending in order to console yourself?
Carpe Diem (or FOMO!)
Out of these subconscious reasons for overspending, my personal favourite is, “Carpe Diem” (in other words, FOMO — fear of missing out). We will often overspend because we don’t want to say no to people, and that’s part of connection as well. It might be part of a celebration like a wedding or other social gathering.
There could be something you really want to achieve in your life. Perhaps you really want to go somewhere special on holiday. And you think, “Well, you can’t take your money with you. So why not? I may as well just go for it.”
Carpe Diem means seizing the day, whether or not you can afford it. This certainly was the case for me when I was going traveling. I did it without having the money behind me, because I didn’t want to miss out or lose the opportunity. So, I did it, and I had to pay for it later.
So there you have it; six subconscious reasons for why you might be overspending. Think about all the things that you’d like to buy and think about which subtype each one might come under. If it’s spending money on others, could that be a case of covering up, or is it something to do with connection?
If it’s overspend on your business, are you compensating for something? Is it an excuse for a celebration, or are you experiencing a feeling of fomo? Really consider which reasons come up for you, and whether there’s a combination that occurs regularly. Once you understand this, you’ll have the power to put measures in place to stop you from overspending in these areas.
If you’d like some extra help, why not try my Abundance Clinic Membership for just $1? You’ll get access to absolutely everything for 30 days and can try everything out and see how you like it. We’d love for you to stay once your trial is over to help you learn more about why you’re overspending, and we can help you put things in place to stop overspending.
Take care for now.
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