How to Control Spending!

Help is here to keep spending reasonable.

By Gary Foreman


Too many people spend too much money and find themselves in debt. If you count yourself among them and want to gain control of your dangerous habits, think about getting help. It's easier to reach a goal if other people are involved.

You can also set up systems to help you monitor your spending on your own.

An Accountability Partner
You could try contacting local social services agencies to find a support group for spendaholics. Another approach would be to enlist the support of an “accountability partner.”

Your partner could be a friend, relative or mentor, but most importantly should be someone who can be trusted. You will report regularly to the partner on how well you are doing — and let’s face it: sometimes just knowing that you have to confess a failure is enough to keep from stumbling.

That partner can offer support when you suffer a setback. He or she will help you dust off and get back on track.

Police Yourself
If you can't (or don't want to) find someone to hold you accountable, create a system for yourself. Make a daily list of what you plan to spend that day, and stick to it. Keep track of the days you buy only the items on the list. These are good days!

Consider a budget. This will put you on notice when you have spent the funds allocated for entertainment, clothing or any other category.

Avoid places that are most likely to trigger spending. An alcoholic can't hang around bars and a spendaholic shouldn't go window shopping. It's like dancing with the devil. You're bound to get singed.

Use rewards and punishments to encourage good spending behavior. We all respond to appropriate rewards. Perhaps you have never had the money for a weekend trip to visit your college roommate, or have not been able to buy tickets to a play. The idea is to pick something that was unattainable under the old system and use it as a reward when you meet an important goal.

Controlling spending will get easier the longer you persist. It's hard to break old habits, especially if they involve behavior that could be addictive. Remember that tomorrow will be easier than today. But you have to get through today first.

You can do it!

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who currently edits The Dollar Stretcher website and newsletters.