I sat on my sofa long after the kids had gone to bed. I had my budget binder open and was paying my credit card bill. At that moment I knew I had fallen back into my old spending habits. I was ready to admit that I was greatly overspending on my credit card.
After more than 8 years of budgeting and tracking our money, I still struggle with overspending.
Yep, that’s right. The person who teaches you how to budget and save money is admitting that she struggles with SPENDING money.
But that’s my truth.
And if you’re sitting here nodding your head because you also struggle with overspending then let me tell you…girl, I know what it’s like.
I know what it’s like to get a thrill from spending money.
I know what it’s like to spend without thinking.
I know what it’s like to feel guilty after you spend because you know it wasn’t part of your plan.
And I know that even after 8 years of budgeting, my tendency to overspend can be a struggle. And in the past 9 months, I’ve been overspending on our credit card more than ever.
Yep. We use credit cards.
Before I dive into this entire story (and thankfully, it has a happy ending), I need you to know one thing: yes, we do have credit cards.
In the past, I haven’t struggled with overspending on credit cards. We’ve always used them sparingly, and it simply wasn’t an issue.
Earlier in the year, we qualified for the Southwest Companion Pass. With this pass, my husband can fly with me for FREE on Southwest.
When we were using our credit card to qualify for the companion pass I noticed that it was so much easier to overspend.
Although we paid our credit card off each month, I could still tell that we were spending more than we usually would…especially me.
As someone who loves to spend money, I knew I needed to be careful with a credit card. And to be honest, I WAS careful. I was doing great…until about 9 months ago.
Something changed in the past 9 months…
About 9 months ago we moved into a new house. We sold a lot of our old furniture before our move. You know, like the 10-year-old sofa that smelled like a dog.
When we moved into our new house, we bought a few large furniture pieces that we needed (like a kitchen table, sofa, and coffee table).
As any good savers would do, my husband and I saved up to pay for these furniture pieces in full. In fact, by paying in cash, we were able to negotiate amazing discounts.
I had a BLAST picking out new furniture. And like any true spender, the act of buying new furniture made me want to buy something else.
It was almost like an addiction. I bought the furniture (that we had budgeted for) and then suddenly I wanted ALL new things.
But the issue was that we hadn’t budgeted for other items. Yet I still happened to find myself searching on Amazon each day and simply throwing items in our cart.
Day after day Amazon boxes showed up at our doorstep.
My husband would give me the side eye, but I didn’t care. I was thrilled to open the box. It was an adrenaline rush.
And all that extra spending? You guess it…it was all going on our credit card.
I fell into the habit of charging all my impulse purchases on our credit card.
It didn’t hurt as much.
I avoided our credit card statements and pretended I didn’t have a problem.
Excuses, denial, and more excuses
During the first 6 months of moving into our new home, I was FULL of excuses for why I was spending so much money.
I had every reason for why I needed the item I was buying. I would justify my purchase to my husband who was clearly frustrated with my old spending habits.
And to be honest, I was in denial. I was filling my mind with excuses as well.
Because once I started spending, I couldn’t stop.
If you’ve never struggled with overspending, that might sound dramatic. But it’s 100% true.
I became addicted to shopping online.
I knew I had to face my problem.
As time went on, I knew that I had to face my problem.
I started setting small goals for myself. For instance, I’d set weekly goals to not spend money on Amazon. There was even one month that my husband and I agreed that we wouldn’t shop on Amazon for the ENTIRE month.
The good news is that my husband was 100% on board with cutting out my online shopping habit. He was tired of seeing our credit card bill grow larger and larger. And you know what? I was tired of it too!
Going cold turkey
It wasn’t until 6 months after we moved that I made the decision to stop using our credit card altogether.
Although I had mostly kicked my Amazon habit, I was still struggling with overspending on our credit card in general. Whether I was booking travel expenses on it or summer camp for my oldest child, I was turning to my credit card too often.
One night after the kids had gone to bed, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa. Together we were paying bills and working on our budget.
We had just paid off a $600 credit card bill.
My heart was heavy.
I knew that we could have sent that $600 to savings instead. That money could have been set aside for a family vacation. It could have gone to our car fund.
But instead, we had spent it. And I don’t even remember what we bought.
It was at that moment that I turned to my husband and told him that I would no longer be using the credit card. I know myself and my spending habits well. And I needed to go cold turkey.
You see, when I use our credit card, I don’t FEEL the pain of spending money. I don’t feel the hurt until it comes time to pay off the credit card.
And because we NEVER carry a balance on our credit card, that meant we were paying off huge chunks of our card at once. And sending $600+ to a credit card company is painful.
Since that night I haven’t swiped or used our credit card once. And slowly, my desire to overspend and buy all the things is fading.
Does this mean we will never use the credit card again? Absolutely not! But I know that when I start using our credit card again, I have to have a healthier relationship with it.
The consequences of my spending habits
When I allowed myself to fall back into overspending, three main things happened:
1. We save less money.
During this process, we were still paying off our credit card each month. This means that anything we sent to our credit card COULD have been sent to our savings instead.
We essentially saved a lot less during this time because we were spending money on our credit card. Looking back, I wish I could go back and have that money in savings instead.
2. I felt like I went backward instead of forward.
When I start spending, I start to crave the act of spending money. Ultimately, overspending became a bad habit that I had to break.
It takes time, effort, and patience to break bad habits. I felt like I had gone backward!
3. My husband became frustrated.
Look, I totally understand why my husband was frustrated with my spending habits. We’ve always worked together to set financial goals. And now I was sabotaging them with my spending habits! Thankfully he’s super understanding and forgiving!
Real things you can do if you struggle with overspending
Can you relate to my struggle? Are you also tempted to overspend on your credit card or shop online?
If you’re raising your hand right now, then please know that you are not alone.
The desire to overspend is totally normal. But you CAN do things that will help curb your desire to swipe your credit card and start saving money!
Below are 3 things you can do if you struggle with overspending.
- Set small goals. This was the first thing I did when I realized I had fallen back into my old habits. I started setting weekly goals to not spend money online. Sometimes it’s easier to tackle a bad habit when you can take it just one or two days at a time. Start by telling yourself that you won’t buy anything online for one week. Just one week! You can do that! Setting small goals like these make your desire to stop spending money possible.
- Track your progress. To keep yourself motivated, add up how much you spent on your credit card or online shopping last month. Then, try to spend less than that! Then, track the progress that you’re making. Will your progress be perfect? Nope. But it’s still something you should be proud of!
- Go gold turkey. Sometimes the key to no longer overspending on your credit card is to stop using it altogether. This is exactly what I ended up doing. I knew that if I wanted to kick my bad habit, I needed to completely remove credit cards from my spending for the time being.
With time, effort, and persistence, you CAN stop overspending on your credit card. It’s possible and you are capable!