Is Your Spending Out of Control?

Ever look at your bank balance a week after payday and wonder where all your money has gone? You’re not alone.

Find out how to identify when your spending is out of control.

An out-of-control spender isn’t just someone who blows their earnings on shopping sprees every month and then wonders why on earth they have nothing left for essentials. Of course these extremes exist, but having an out-of-control spending habit simply means that you spend more than you earn.

Depending on how much you earn and how much you need to spend on essentials, a few luxuries can easily swing the balance so that your money seems to fritter away without you even realising it.

Read on to find out the warning signs that your spending needs reining in.

1. Your ‘out’ is more than your ‘in’

Basically this comes down to the main principle of over-spending – you spend more than you earn, and so what comes into your account each month is less than what goes out of it.

Modern technology means there’s one easy way to check this and to see at a glance if your spending is outweighing your earnings. Look at your latest bank statement and you should find two figures at the top or bottom: one represents your total income for the month (everything that went into your account from wages to earned interest to a refund from the tax office) while the other represents your total outgoings for the month (everything that went out of your account from mortgage payments to a supermarket shop to a credit card repayment).

If the ‘out’ figure is more than the ‘in’ figure, even by a small amount, this means you are over-spending. This can only lead to one thing: your available funds are depleted until you are in a position where you need to borrow to stretch your finances through to your next payday.

2. You’re much too friendly with your overdraft, line of credit or redraw facility

It’s all too easy to become over-familiar with our overdrafts. Once they’re in place, dipping into them to tide us over for the month can seem like a harmless thing to do, especially if you intend to pay that overdraft back as soon as you can.

The problem is that when your spending outweighs your earning, residing in your overdraft throughout the month rather than in credit can easily become the norm; and the further you plunge into the recesses of your overdraft, the harder it is to climb back out again.

Again this comes down again to spending more than you earn and then gradually depleting your available funds – in credit and then in your overdraft – until you have nowhere left to turn but to borrow more money.

3. Your cash does a disappearing act

Have you ever withdrawn money at an ATM, intending to use it for any various small expenses that might come up, then peer in your wallet or purse a day or two later and find it has all but vanished? If this happens on a regular basis, and unless you are being beset by a persistent pickpocket, it’s likely you’ve lost a grip on your spending.

Whenever you’re in a position where you don’t know where your money is going, whether that’s a bank balance that seems to drastically drop over a matter of days, or cash you withdraw that seems to evaporate, you need to take a long, hard look at your spending.

4. You buy things on impulse

Again, this is another matter of regaining control over your spending habits by monitoring where your money goes, identifying the times when you are likely to spend without thinking, then curbing that habit.

You might already be well aware that you’re prone to buying things on the spur of the moment if you like the look of them in a shop window or you spot something online you just have to have. Whether this is a regular habit throughout the month or something you only do once in a while, it’s still worth addressing it so that you can bring your spending back under control rather than letting it control you.

5. You spend money on things you don’t use

Naturally, why would anyone in their right mind spend money on something just for the sake of it? Spending money on something you don’t get any use out of is the same as throwing money in the bin, but in fact you might be doing this on a regular basis without even knowing it.

Many of us have set up direct debits or standing orders long ago with good intentions, for example a gym membership, health plan, or cinema membership, but then have never got round to making use of it. You might have gone to the gym for the first few months but then let it go by the wayside – but there’s still a regular amount coming out of your account every month to pay for it.

If you have any regular payments being drawn from your account paying for things that you don’t make use of, it’s time to cancel them.

Next time we’ll look at ways of getting control over your spending. If you can’t wait until then, please drop me an email.


  1. Great article, Peter! The first step to reigning control of overspending is to acknowledge it’s happening and understand why. It’s just too easy not to think about. I’m looking forward to reading your next post about how to take control of spending!

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