3 Steps to Eliminate Overspending

Overspending. The single greatest financial burden for American families today. But you work hard. And a few luxuries can’t hurt, right?

USA Today reports that consistent splurging on nonessentials causes Americans to “skimp on other important items…38% of Americans claim they can’t afford to fund a retirement plan because they don’t have enough money. Meanwhile, 35% say they can’t afford a life insurance policy, 28% can’t afford to pay off credit card debt, and 26% can’t afford car repairs.”

When overspending means no retirement, life insurance, credit card debt and broken cars it does not count as a luxury!

So, how do you eliminate overspending?

  1. Identify what you spend and where.
  2. Get to the root of why you spend there.
  3. Find alternative ways to fulfill the need.

1) Identify what you spend and where.

That same report from USA Today says that food is often the biggest culprit. You gotta eat, but here are the stats. The average American spends:

Restaurant meals $209.38
Drinks $188.68
Takeout or delivery $177.88
Buying lunch $173.62
Total $749.56

That’s in addition to the grocery bill.

2) Get to the root of why you spend there.

Far too many people are advised to cut out the things they overspend on. For most, we are destined to only cut it out short term as the true need we had isn’t being served. Instead we have to figure out what is driving the need.

Are you tired after work and don’t feel like cooking? Don’t know how? Are you meeting friends at the restaurant? Is it a habit? Does eating out make you feel special?

I am reminded of the classic advice to stop buying coffee at Starbucks and start saving. If you buy your coffee there, ask yourself why. Is it to “get out of the office for a mind break”? Is there a social aspect?

The answer to that question moves you to the next step.

3) Find alternative ways to fulfill the need.

Would a walk in the park with a coffee from the lunchroom give you the break you need? Could a cooking class get you excited about the food you make at home? Maybe a new appliance or advance meal prep would take the pressure off dinner time.

So, take some time to examine these 3 steps. Make your choices so your current lifestyle gives you freedom both now and in the future.

-Marshall Rathmell-

Marshall Rathmell

Marshall Rathmell

Marshall Rathmell CFP®, CPA/PFS is the CEO, Shareholder and Financial Planner with BCR Wealth Strategies.