Do you plan on getting your spending under control in 2016? We know we should set a budget, cut back on expenses, and monitor purchases, but somehow it doesn’t work. We try and yet we tend to fail.
What causes us to overspend even when we know what we should do? Researchers are finding answers which lie in psychological impulses and blind spots that are tough to recognize and overcome in our day-to-day lives. Here are some blind spots:
· We all know we need a certain amount in savings. Do you manage to save a certain amount each month? One survey found 68% of the people said Dining Out kept them from saving each month. Clothes/shopping was the answer for 37% with Entertainment for 35%. Hobbies 29% and Travel 24% also made a difference.
· Don’t shop when you are hungry, even for other purchases besides food. Research shows we spend more when we are hungry, even if it isn’t food.
· Some people view “willpower” as limited and will reward themselves with unhealthy items like junk food, procrastination and overspending. Better ways to reward ourselves would be to engage in sports, go work out at the gym, meditate, or take a nature walk. Avoid being put in tempting situations if rewarding yourself is common after a stressful event. Don’t go shopping after a bad day; instead, go to the gym.
· Unhappy people tend to save less and spend more, focusing on the short-term. Whereas, happy people tend to be more future oriented and pursue goals saving more and spending less now. They believe they will benefit from cheaper prices in the future. Thus, wait until you are in a good mood to make financial decisions.
· We are really good about forecasting future income but not realistic on future expenses causing us to set uncontrolled budgets. We think about income growth but don’t think about rising expenses, so we end up thinking we can afford the more expensive house or car when we can’t. We know expenses will go up, but we ignore those expenses when making the decision.
· Many people have a financial blind spot when it comes to their home. The more the house is worth the more people think they have extra money to spend. Of course, the more their house is worth the more money they can borrow against it. However, until they sell the house they don’t have that actual wealth. It is recommended we view our homes as a place to live and not as an investment or financial asset. It is dangerous to max out the home-equity line of credit.
Being aware of what makes us less financial savvy can help us. Now, we just need to follow the advice. What changes are you going to make?
Pat Brinkman is the Ohio State University Extension Educator for Family & Consumer Sciences. CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clients on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information: go.osu.edu/cfaesdiversity