worst excuses for overspending

Overspending is an issue many individuals and households deal with, causing them to struggle with their budgets. However, the situation can become more challenging when someone continuously tries to rationalize their overspending with a flimsy excuse. Citing a reason could prevent someone from taking a hard look at their behavior, creating a scenario where overspending continues. By recognizing that the rationalizations aren’t reasonable, it’s possible to move forward. If you want to learn more about the kind of justifications that generally don’t hold water, here’s a look at the seven worst excuses for overspending.

1. “I Deserve a Treat”

A hard, challenging day (or longer) at work, school, or home is rarely fun. As a result, many people come out of the other side feeling like they should get a reward for making it to the end. It could be something as small as a snack or drink from a café or as large as a major electronic, lavish vacation, or high-end jewelry piece.

In many cases, the purchase only feels good for a moment. The splurge seems like a kind of self-care on the surface, though it rarely is one. If you can’t afford that quick bit of spending therapy, that “I deserve a treat” mentality isn’t helping your broader situation. Instead, it’s simply leading to overspending, something that can derail your budget and lead to more stress.

Instead of buying something, find an activity that can serve as a reward. Play a board game with your family, binge a few episodes of your favorite show on a streaming service you already have, or take a stroll with a friend.

2. “I Was Good Last Payday, So I Can Splurge Now”

When you practice self-restraint for a period, it’s easy to think that you enjoy a reward for holding back. Usually, it involves believing that because you were “good” for a certain amount of time, you deserve a splurge now.

In most cases, this mentality arises when you view the “good” decisions as a type of deprivation instead of reasonable or positive. As a result, the splurge feels like compensation for being deprived.

The issue is, the splurges can easily undo all of your hard work. Any savings you had while being “good” end up offset when you spend frivolously. In some cases, it can even make the moments of overspending worse, as you may think that you can get items priced higher than you’d normally go after.

If you struggle with this excuse, learning that being “good” isn’t a kind of deprivation helps. Instead, it’s about trying to establish positive habits that will keep you financially stable.

Additionally, updating your budget to allow yourself to live within your means and spend a bit on niceties that mean the most to you can help. That way, you don’t feel like you’ve lost everything when you cut back.

3. “But It’s on Sale”

Buying something on sale only saves you money if it’s something you would have purchased anyway. If it’s an item that wouldn’t have made it into your cart if you hadn’t noticed the sale, then your “but it’s on sale” thinking is usually costing you money, not saving it.

Retailers understand that people react to the idea of snagging a bargain, even if the price isn’t actually a great deal. Some stores artificially inflate the “before” price to make discounts seem bigger. Others treat a lower price like a sale even though they always charge the reduced amount.

However, by simply advertising the price as a sale, some people worry that they’ll end up overpaying later if they don’t buy now. As a result, they move forward with an unnecessary purchase more mainly due to the fear of missing out than anything else.

Overcoming this kind of overspending starts by avoiding sale notifications. Unsubscribe from sale-related emails and don’t window shop online as recreation.

Additionally, if you see a sale, take a moment to consider if you would buy the item if there wasn’t a discount and whether you really need it. Then, ask yourself if you can genuinely afford the purchase today.

4. “I’ve Got a Bonus/Raise/Refund Coming”

When there is a windfall on the horizon, some people are tempted to spend it before it even hits their bank account. This mentality can quickly lead to problems.

For one, the person may use that excuse for days, weeks, or months, racking up a spending total that exceeds what they’ll eventually receive. For another, things can go wrong, causing the windfall to be smaller than they’d expect or the money to get delayed.

In the end, spending money before you actually have it is never a good idea. Instead, wait for the cash to hit your bank account before you make any plans for using it. Then, really think about the best use for the windfall, ensuring you don’t spend it frivolously.

5. “I Was Going to Buy One Eventually”

Many people justify busting their budget on a discounted product that isn’t connected to an immediate need because they eventually wanted to buy one. They figure that they might as well get it while the price is down, even if it isn’t something they can afford at the moment. Otherwise, they might have to pay more later.

Even if an on-sale item is something you would buy anyway, if you can’t legitimately afford it today and it isn’t a genuine necessity, you’re overspending. Before you buy, reflect on whether the item is actually a need or if it’s just a want.

If you struggle with that decision in the moment, walk away and take 24 hours before you move forward with the purchase. That way, the excitement of spotting the sale will wear off, making it easier to see the reality of the situation.

6. “I’ll Pay Myself Back Next Payday”

Having money sitting in a savings account or an emergency fund is a smart move, but it isn’t much fun. Seeing the balance when you log into your bank account can make it seem like you have money available to spend, even if that’s not the purpose of the stash. As a result, it’s tempting to withdraw some under the guise of paying yourself back later.

Usually, the biggest issue with this kind of thinking is that most people don’t (or can’t) pay themselves back in full when they intended. Additionally, you might have a legitimate emergency before your next paycheck, leaving you short.

While it’s difficult, treating the cash like it isn’t there is your best bet. By seeing it as off-limits, you don’t put yourself in a challenging financial situation later.

7. “It’s the Holidays”

When the holidays roll around, spending money on family members and friends becomes incredibly common. It’s easy to believe that these kinds of purchases are justified because you care about your loved ones and want them to be happy. In some cases, the overspending can feel noble, as you’re sacrificing your budget in the name of them.

The problem is that holiday-related overspending can become a serious issue. In many ways, it’s a somewhat long-term spending binge, and it can add up quickly.

If you want to conquer this kind of overspending, setting a holiday budget can help. It lets you know what you can afford to spend on your loved ones, giving you simple parameters to follow.

Additionally, focus on creating memories instead of gifts. Spending time together can be a wonderful gift, so don’t overlook that as you prepare for the holidays.

Do you think those are the worst excuses for overspending? Can you think of any others that should be on the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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