Why People Spend More Than They Earn
First Published: ADawnJournal.com July 21, 2010
Remember “the number one personal finance tip of all time” I mentioned in Ten Timeless Personal Finance Tips By Financial Author A. Dawn article? That is, you need to spend less than you earn. To spend less, you need to know why we spend more than we earn. If you can grasp the basics of the “spending more than earn” scenario, it will be a lot easier for you to save money by spending less. Let’s look at the most important factors that cause us to spend more.
Lack of Information – The majority of the population have no idea where their money is going exactly. We often ignore small spending here and there; but at the end of the month all these tiny expenses add up and turn into something big and beyond our control. To handle this, you need to keep track of your spending. I don’t believe that dollar-for-dollar budgeting works. However, you need to keep track of your spending to see the patterns in your spending behaviour and take steps to cut down on unnecessary expenses. Here is an article to help you find personal finance software to track your spending: Personal Finance Software Review by Financial Author A. Dawn
Lifestyle Habit – Keeping up with the Jones, competing with colleagues, a tendency for showing off riches to the world, acting rich and successful but not able to survive without steady paycheques, feeling a sense of power while spending money, being jealous at other people’s stuff and trying to match their possessions, an inability to say NO to others when they ask for something (although you’re not in a position to afford it), not treating credit card spending like real money, not being true to yourself, and much much more – all these are variations of lifestyle habits. Let’s be honest here – If you aren’t able to save money because of one of these reasons or a similar one, it can be a serious problem and has to be dealt with seriously. I doubt that reading articles online will be any good resolving this. If you think you have this problem, I would suggest you read a few books, and based on the severity of your problem you may need to consult a qualified financial professional. Books I recommend:
Instant Gratification – Here is an excerpt from my book Invest Now which is very suitable: “Every day, we face tempting opportunities to spend money. A sea of indulgences can distract you from investing for your future. “Buy now!” “Pay after one year!” “Don’t pay interest for six months!” Everyone everywhere is urging you to spend, spend, spend. I’ve even seen a “Vacation now, pay later!” advertisement on the subway. But every dollar you spend now is a dollar in lost investment opportunities that could have grown a lot more in the long run”. We are bombarded every second to buy into some “now and pay later” scheme. We want what we don’t need when we want it, and are willing to drag on paying interest to fulfill our instant gratification mentality year after year. What we don’t realise is that a $100 item is costing us $150 at the end of the interest paying term and it is prohibiting us from investing for our future – because we are paying interest on many other similar things and becoming money constrained. How should you handle instant gratification syndrome? Here are a few simple tips: try to pay for everything in cash; learn to delay major money sucking purchases, your urge will likely wither away if you can delay a few days; if you are at a store and can’t stop yourself from purchasing something you don’t need and/or is out of your budget, try counting 1 to 10, or take a few deep breaths, or try walking around the store. Once you try one of these; most likely your strong desire will go away.
Not Having Any Goals in Life – We tend to spend recklessly if there is nothing to look for in the future. Setting up goals for different stages in life is a smart way to save money and accomplish goals. These goals can be broken down into smaller parts. For example, instead of saving for a $20,000 down payment for a condo, it’s a lot easier to save $5000 each year for 4 years. Also, have set plans about your life such as buying a house by 30, paying half of the mortgage by 40, retiring at around 50, and so on. Each time you purchase something, think before paying for that item. Take a moment to think whether this purchase will help you achieve your goals or will take you away from your goals.
Whether your spending habit is causing you debt problems or keeping you from achieving your future goals, take a deep look at the causes and eliminate them to start saving for your life. No one else will care for your future and money like you do, and only you can take the necessary steps to secure your financial future.