Ordinary Things That Are Causing You To Spend More Money, Unnecessarily

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With the cost of living eating deeper into the pockets of American consumers, many are finding it increasingly hard to put enough away in their emergency funds or cover essential costs every month.

Despite many Americans willing to make adjustments to face the uncertain economic times, many of them, less than half – about four in ten – are unable to cover an unexpected $1,000 emergency according to a recent Bankrate report.

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What’s even more disturbing is that the same report found that nearly 76% of U.S. adults have not seen an increase in their emergency funds and savings balances over the last 12 months since the survey was conducted.

The reality is, a lot of us don’t know how to save or even budget properly for that matter. Those of us that have a bit of cash left over at the end of the month are also barely scraping by, and it’s starting to hurt our financial bottom line.

We're Unnecessary Spenders

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, a lot of people struggle to stick to their budgets or manage their money properly. If it makes you feel any better, research from 2019 found that Americans waste on average $1,497 a month on non-essential items, that’s more than $18,000 per year.

And when you adjust that for inflation over the last few years, you start to see how much money a lot of us waste on goods and services we don’t need on a day-to-day basis.

This also comes at a time when the price of nearly everything has gone up, and the Federal Reserve continues to aggressively hike up interest rates making borrowing more expensive and causing an increase in mortgage rates and credit card debt.

Perhaps you’ve been trying to save some cash over the last few months, but have been struggling and not sure where the problem is. Well, maybe it’s time to look at these simple, yet ordinary things that may be causing you to overspend, without you knowing it.

Stress

Yes, stress spending is a reality, and you’d be surprised to know that according to an older survey by Credit Karma of 1,000 consumers, more than half have said they impulsively purchase or shop when they’re feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. Feeling stressed out can lead us to spend more money, even when we don’t realize it.

Further research and studies by Harvard University found that our bodies tend to react to stress by focusing on the threat, and alleviating it with other external activities, in this case, shopping or spending money to overcome it.

Overcompensating

Maybe you’re someone that follows a rigid budget and tends to stick to the rules of the game, without spending a penny more than you should. Maybe one week you find yourself saving an extra $50 or $100, but then the next week you tend to spend more than what you’ve budgeted for because you’re overcompensating for spending money or trying to save.

One week you’re under budget, the next you’re overspending, then the following week you go under budget again, constantly in a tug and pull with your finances. This sort of cycle can be draining on your well-being, and your finances, so it’s important to set realistic budgeting goals or saving milestones.

Being Busy

If you ever thought that being busy saves you money, because you don’t have enough time in your schedule to spend your money, you might want to revisit your finances then.

Being busy, or having a packed schedule can lead you to spend more money; by paying for convenience to avoid wasting time or having to make decisions.

Yes, it’s possible that we can save a bit here and there if we’re too busy to socialize with friends or travel, but in some instances, we’re spending money to get the most possible convenient solution so that we don’t have to deal with it or think about a viable solution.

Willpower

Having the strong urge not to spend will start to fade over time, even if you think you’re good enough at saving and following your budget. We all break rules, and if you’re solely relying on your willpower to not overspend, you’ll find it harder to make crucial financial decisions in the near term.

The best way to restrict our overspending is to budget, and this is hard to come to terms with at first, especially if you have for some time relied on your will not to spend money or put some into your savings account.

Even though it’s hard to properly follow a budget, instead of solely relying on your willpower, set up goals that you’re working towards that will help you see how you can grow your cash, and what it is you’re saving for.

Burnout

Ever heard of cognitive depletion?

Cognitive depletion is the psychological understanding that suggests we have lower or limited mental ability to make critical decisions when we are tired, or even just awoken. Cognitive energy is needed to help us make decisions and improve our thought processing when confronted with challenging obstacles, or manage our self-control.

In a world where 89% of Americans have in the last year suffered from burnout, 36% thereof due to cognitive weariness and 44% from physical fatigue, increased cognitive depletion is leading to some of us spending more money, unnecessarily.

When our energy levels are at their lowest, such as at the end of the workday, during our morning commute, or even during lunch hours at work, we’re less likely to make rational decisions than when we are hyper-focused or rested.

Yes, being tired can lead us to spend more money, even if we don’t think it’s a reality, consider your cognitive levels the next time you shop online, or browse through the internet.

Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt that you’re not accomplished enough to get the job done, or will one day be seen as a fraud? Or maybe you’re scared that one-day people will find out that you’re not as qualified as you’d like them to think you are, even though you have the necessary papers to back this.

Imposter syndrome is not only a mental strain for many of us, but some estimates believe that it’s costing you money - $6,490 a year to be exact.

Some of us may be trying to overcome imposter syndrome by dropping cash on expensive clothes, jewelry, trips to the salon, or going on holidays we don’t have money for. We’re spending money to overcompensate for things we feel inadequate about, and that’s holding us back from achieving our savings goals.

Final Thoughts

Saving is not easy, especially at a time when the cost of living has spiraled out of control, and inflation has only scooped up more of our disposable income. Having enough money at the end of the month to save can be a far stretch, and for many, it can be simple things that are causing them to spend more money than they should.

Encourage yourself to set up and follow a monthly budget, see how far your money can get you, and what in your personal life are you doing that’s costing you money. What’s more, consider how your mood, emotions, and daily awareness may be affecting your ability to make rational financial decisions.

It’s not easy, and it comes with a pinch of salt to get on top of your finances, but instead of focusing on the present and near-term outcomes, rather adjust your view towards your long-term saving goals.