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It happens to everyone. You’re rocking along with your budget and paying off debt. You’ve got a comfortable amount in the savings account, and you’ve kept track of your spending.
Then all of a sudden, something kicks you off track. You had an extra paycheck this month and your husband asked to spend it on kayaks. $500 later, your bank account is smaller, but you’ve got a fun new hobby for the upcoming summer months.
Then you notice you’ve fallen off on meal planning. You grab takeout for dinner more often, and buy a few extra drinks when you’re out with friends. Finally, you decide to let loose and buy that fancy blender you’ve been eyeing on Amazon, and since you’re already buying that, you decide to pick up a few other things to come in your shipment.
Soon you realize you’ve spent almost the entire month making bad spending choices, and it all started with that one big purchase at the beginning. Buying the kayaks (or whatever it may be in your case) set your mind on the idea of spending money and buying some extra fun things for yourself.
Simply put, you decided to live in the moment, instead of living for the future. You know you want to get debt free, but that day seems so far away. You work so hard, and you want to have some fun now instead of delaying spending like always.
This is the place I’ve found myself in recently. And I’m going to guess I’m not the only one. If you’ve found yourself in a spending spree, here are a few steps you can take to overcome, and reset your path back to your financial goals.
Step 1: Re-evaluate your goals.
You probably set some big goals for yourself this year. Did you decide to finally pay off your credit card debt? Did you make up your mind to set aside three months of expenses in an emergency fund?
Now is the time to re-visit your goals, and decide if they’re still relevant to you. Think back to why that goal was so important to you. If you decided that this was the year to finally get out of debt, what made you decide to take that leap? Was it the idea of being free from monthly debt payments, to get out of a job you hate, to stay home with your kids?
Decide right now if that goal is still important to you, and why it’s important.
Step 2: If possible, add up the money you spent while on your spree.
When I stopped to add up the amount of money we’d spent in just a little over a week, I was shocked. Overall, we spent over $700!
That’s $700 that could have gone to a credit card (and knocked a huge chunk out of it). Or it could have gone to our emergency savings, or even to our vacation savings for the trip to the beach we want to take this summer.
Take a look at your bank account and add up just how much your spending spree cost you.
However, the one thing I don’t want you to do is let that number depress you. Just realize that you had some fun, but directing that money in the future towards your goals could make a huge impact on when you hit them.
Step 3: Freeze your spending.
Now that you’ve taken a tally of the damage done, and you’ve reminded yourself of the importance of your goals, it’s time to take action to stop your spending in its tracks.
If you’ve never done a spending freeze, it’s simply where you don’t spend any unnecessary money (or any money period, if possible) over a set period of time.
I’m not going to tell you that you have to freeze your spending for a whole month. Even a week may be challenging. I simply want you to get into an intentional mindset about your money and reset your spending habits by not spending any money, even if it’s only for one day. If you’ve never really analyzed your spending before, you may be surprised at how many opportunities there are for you to spend each and every day. Coffee or breakfast in the morning, the drive-thru for lunch, snacks in the vending machine, stopping by the store after work (or picking up take-out), the fundraiser for your niece, buying a product for your friend’s new business opportunity, and so many more, just to name a few.
Take a day, or challenge yourself to a week, of cutting your spending cold turkey. This could be just the signal your brain needs to curb the impulse purchases and stop the desire to spend.
If you find you’ve fallen off the wagon and got on a spending high, don’t get discouraged. Simply pick yourself up, and start again. By taking a fresh look at your goals, examining your spending, and going on a spending freeze, you’ll be back to your frugal, goal-crushing ways in no time.
And before you know it, you’ll finally be out of debt, and you can start having a little more fun with your money, 100% guilt free.