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Have you spent too much money during the holidays? Took advantage of lots of deals during Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Did you buy more than you intended or purchased something that you can't afford?
With all the amazing sales it's easy to shop over your budget. There's an adrenaline rush when you buy something on a crazy good sale. You can get drunk on saving money through spending.
Unfortunately, overspending leads to a hangover. It can also damage your finances, cause stress, and create feelings of regret.
If you have shopped too much, don't worry. Here are some action steps that you can take to repair your wallet and start to feel better.
1. Cancel the Order
If you have ordered online and are having second thoughts, cancel it.
Many orders can be canceled easily before they ship. Amazon makes this process very simple with a “cancel items” button located on your order history.
My father recently ordered a TV online without doing his normal Detective Columbo research. After making the purchase, he read some negative reviews about the company and instantly regretted his decision.
Immediately, he fired off an email and followed it up with phone calls to cancel his order. The disreputable company balked and tried to give him the runaround. But they eventually refunded his purchase after he threatened to dispute the charges with American Express and send them a copy of his communications.
It might not be easy, but if you have overspent or feel any regret, you should cancel the order as soon as possible. If you change your mind, which you probably won't, you can always buy the item again.
2. Return it
I once bought a very expensive camera on a whim. (I'm an impulse buyer.)
The camera looked so cool! Imagining myself taking National Geographic quality photos, it was easy to fork over the huge sum of money.
After taking the camera home, I started to regret buying my new toy. It was crazy expensive. The camera was complicated, with hundreds of buttons, and I couldn't figure out. I knew nothing about photography.
The next day I went back to the store and gave it back. The sales person I bought it from was working there and couldn't understand why I was returning it. I felt guilty. It was crazy awkward, but afterward, I felt relieved.
There is a type of guilt that many of us feel about returning items. Some people experience this more acutely than others. My wife has zero problem returning items, while I always feel squeamish about it.
No matter how you feel, power through and return the item. According to a 2017 National Retail Federation study, 10% of all merchandise sold is returned, so you are not alone.
Remember, the regret you feel from overspending is worse than the short-lived fear of facing a retail clerk and telling them you don't want this espresso machine anymore.
There is no shame in returning items. If you have overspent or no longer feel that the purchase was right for you, then return it.
The key to returning items is time. You need to return the purchase as fast as possible to ensure that there is no problem. Make sure to always keep receipts as well. If you don't have a receipt, it's still worth a try. Many major retails have policies to accept all the items they sell, like Nordstroms. They may also issue store credit, which is better than nothing.
3. Cut Back Spending in Another Area
If you have spent too much money shopping, find another area of your life to cut back on.
Break out your budget, or spending plan, and look for areas where you can save money.
Start with discretionary spending categories. Can you move money from entertainment or eating out to cover what you've overspent? Is the espresso machine worth forfeiting the next two date nights? (Consult with your spouse first on this one!)
After discretionary spending, use tools like Trim to cut back on monthly expenses that you don't use frequently. Not going to the gym anyway, might as well cut that one out!
By taking money from another area of your budget you haven't really overspent, you've just prioritized your spending.
4. Sell Your Old Stuff
Too often we keep our old stuff around, leading to garages filled with everything but cars.
If you have spent too much money, try to get some of it back through decluttering and selling your old items.
Get rid of your old stuff to make room for the new. If you bought a new TV, phone, or appliance, sell your old one. There's nothing trashier, and potentially dangerous to children, as keeping an old refrigerator lying around.
The money you make from selling your old crap might even take the edge off your recent shopping.
Because the value declines quickly, old phones, video games, and other electronics are the best to sell right away. It's incredibly easy to sell electronics with Decluttr.
You can also sell through garage sales or online through Amazon, eBay, or local Facebook groups.
Besides selling your old items, you can give them away to charity. This won't result in immediate cash, but you can get a charitable deduction if you itemize on your taxes.
5. Find Creative Ways to Use What You Bought
Sometimes it takes time to realize that you spent too much money.
When I got my first job out of college, I bought two season tickets to the Boston Bruins Hockey Team. I spent too much money, far more than I could afford, and it was a big money mistake. Between the tickets and concessions, I was spending about 20% of my income watching hockey!
About halfway through the season, I realized that I was overspending. I ended up skipping games and giving away tickets to family and friends so that they wouldn't be a total waste of money.
If I had thought more creatively, I might have been able to find an alternative.
Tawyna from Money Saved is Money Earned recently wrote How I Get Season Tickets for Free.
In her article, she goes over how she uses the tickets to pay for themselves by selling some of the most popular games. You can read more about it in the link above.
I wish I had thought of this simple creative solution before!
If I had thought of this (a thought which happens frequently), I could have sold some, or all, of the remaining tickets and recouped a large portion of what I paid.
Some other creative ways to use what you bought:
- Kitchenware: Charge a small fee to prep meals and cook for friends
- Camera: Depending on your skill level, earn money taking pictures for local businesses, who might not be willing to shell out for professional photographers
- Automobile: Drive part-time for Lift or Uber to cover your auto loan payment
- House: Rent out a room
- Vacation: Rent out your space on Airbnb to offset the spending from your vacation
You get the idea.
Find creative ways to turn your spending into earning.
What Ways Have You Overspent?
Spending too much is very common. I'd love to hear stories of times that you went a little overboard and what you did about it.
Leave a comment with your story, or email me directly at Alex <@> FinHealthy.com