Even those of us who have been budgeting for years still slip up and go on spending binges once in awhile. There could be many reasons for overspending, from relatives visiting, to just having a bad day and needing a pick me up in the form of retail therapy.
I’ve been on a spending binge recently. It wasn’t because friends and family were visiting, and it wasn’t because I’ve been having a hard time and needed to feel better.
It’s because I’ve barely spent any money on myself in the past sixteen months. I’ve been focusing so hard on working hard at my full-time job after my raise and earning money on the side as a freelancer that I haven’t been caring for myself very well.
I was letting my well-being slip, and at some point last month, I finally snapped and decided to do something about it. Here’s what my spending binge has bought me:
- Eye exam and new pairs of glasses ($240)
- Massage Therapy (2 visits totalling $18)
- Makeup ($118)
- Physiotherapy (2 visits totalling $21.50)
In total, I’ve got about $400 in unplanned charges on my credit card. I’m not worried about these costs though because I have a plan to recover gracefully from this spending binge:
Make a Plan, Pay It Off
The first step to recovering from a bout of overspending is to make a plan to pay it off. I owe about $400 on my credit card, but I plan to have it paid off pretty quickly. Since this overspending is a self-inflicted wound, I don’t want to use my hard earned savings.
First, I’ll use my monthly spending allowance. Since my husband and I have combined finances, we allow ourselves each $100 per month as an allowance. We can use this money as we like, there is no consulting the other person, that money is mine and mine alone. I’ll use that $100 to put a dent in my $400 credit card bill.
For the rest I’ll have to tap my extra income. I have money coming in regularly from freelance, but usually I deposit most of it into my RRSP for my home down payment. For the next month, I’m going use some of my freelance income to pay down this credit card bill.
Take Time to Understand the Why Behind Your Overspending
After you’ve got a plan to erase your spending mistakes, you should take some time to consider why you overspent in the first place.
Do some self-reflection and figure out what prompted this behaviour. Unless you address the underlying problem, your overspending is not going to stop. Sure, it might not rear its ugly head for another six months, but unless you figure out why you’re overspending, eventually you’ll find yourself back at square one, staring at a credit card bill.
In my case, I overspent because I’ve been neglecting myself, to the point where I finally had to do something about it. I’d been ignoring the back pain I was feeling while sitting at my office desk for months. I’ve been ignoring the scratches on my glasses for months. I’d been putting off getting my running injury addressed for over a year and once temperatures rose I just couldn’t put it off any longer.
If I’d been smart about these self-care issues, I would’ve started going for massages months ago. I would’ve replaced my glasses last fall. I would’ve gotten my running injury dealt with last summer.
Instead, I ignored these matters until they became so urgent I had to address them without having cash in hand, and now they sit on my credit card glaring at me like an ugly badge proving my failure as a budgeter.
Going forward, I know that I should make time to take care of myself. I should prioritize the things that will keep me happy and healthy, even if it means spending a little extra money once in awhile.
Forgive Yourself for a Minor Spending Binge
As long as you make a plan to pay it off and figure out how to stop it from happening in the future, don’t be too hard on yourself for overspending.
I honestly feel pretty dumb about putting $400 worth of charges on my credit card for things I could’ve spread out over the past year. But I know why this happened, and I know that I’ll pay it off quickly, so what’s the harm?
Spending binges aren’t the end of the world. They aren’t ideal, sure. Ideally, everyone would stick totally within their budget all of the time and we’d all float around on serene clouds of spending discipline, immune to the siren call of stuff.
But that’s not real life. Real life is messy and full of temptation and sometimes you just need to spend the money now and worry about it later.
When this happens, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, pay your debt, and move on.
When was the last time you overspent? I want to know!
Photo Credit: Anna Dziubinska