Spending More Than You Make

Why is it, that no matter how much money I have, I spend it all? I get a disability check once a month, enough to get by on, but I spend too much every month. No matter whether it is a bank card or cash, if I have it I will spend it.

Yesterday I had to return some food at the grocery store so that I would have enough money for my rent check to be cashed. I spend for a week or two, and then seem to hang suspended, counting the days until my next check. Can anyone else relate to this? What suggestions can you offer?


Derryl from Ontario

December 1, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Perhaps you could write down all of your expenses for each month. Budget a certain amount for groceries, entertainment, etc and try not to go over those amounts. You could also try putting the money in sealed envelopes; one for each week of the month, label them, and put those aside. I used to work a job that paid once a month. I never could make the money last all month, so I know how hard it is. Good luck!

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December 4, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Hi, Derryl.

I know I'm going to sound like a mom, because that's what I am.

I'm on disability, too, as is hubby. We were juggling finances and living paycheck-to-paycheck even before the drunk driver accident that left me almost totally blind, somewhat lacking in stamina, and with what my mobility specialist called "balance issues."

Hubby spent a couple of years trying to maintain our former (not luxurious) lifestyle with credit and without financial help from me. His efforts made life more comfortable in the "short run," but eventually the credit accounts got maxed out. We had to cut back, drastically and quickly.

When we went over limit once too many times and my credit card company threatened to raise my rate, we went cold turkey and learned to live without that particular credit card. I can only pay a couple of dollars over the minimum, but I'm finally at the point where that's not such a struggle.

We cut back on our satellite TV package until my provider offered a deal that enabled us to restore the channels we so sorely missed at the same price as without them. Being a bit of a tightwad, I only allowed hubby one new DVD purchase a month, maximum, lol! I also argued him into going with store brands and generics... they're as good as name brands, without the extra cost. I guess you could compare it to Lee or Levi jeans, or good used jeans bought at Goodwill, compared to Jordasche jeans bought at the mall or Macy's. Same function, but what a difference in price!

We also learned to do most of our shopping at the local discount grocery instead of the more expensive chain store. We even learned to economize on dog items: when I learned our former dog food provider could provide their fave food for less - with every 13th bag free - we gladly moved our business away from the national chain. It helps us and supports a local small business. Our vet doesn't mind writing a prescription we can fill at our local drug store for a fourth the price at the vet's.

s has already been suggested, write up a basic monthly budget to track basic expenses. I'm not an expert, but managed to create a simple MS Excel spreadsheet. I included columns for income sources, expenses, and amounts for each, as well as the last date each bill was paid and by what method. I also included amounts for food (groceries and eating out,) insurance, household needs, and vehicle upkeep. I then (with some hints from the help file) created the formulas that totaled each column and included the amount left over afterward, whether plus or minus.

took some doing and a bit of thought, but this gave me an idea where my money was going. I also try to pay what I can with checks or electronically. That's another way I can track and control spending.

If you've done everything you can and are still coming up short, never be too proud to ask for help. Hubby won't go the credit counseling route, but I'm sure they can be a help. Make sure any you go to is accredited, though. If food is a problem, visit food pantries as often as necessary. They don't provide much meat, but what they can give can really take a burden off your grocery budget.

Last but not least, stay away from payday loans like the plague! They're a vicious and counter-productive tool. Only timely financial windfalls enabled us to break the cycle. Now that we're finally on more stable financial footing, I don't intend ever to go back to that method of making ends meet. Sorry for being so long-winded. I hope something I've said helps!

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May 26, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Bottom line for *some* of us is that it's a compulsion/impulsivity issue. That requires counseling, re-learning behaviors, avoiding triggers and having a strong accountability system. If Shopaholics offers that, then it might be a good idea if you don't have a close friend/family member you trust to tell you, "don't do it."

Hubby and I also went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University program, and it has been a real help. Built-in accountability and learning ways to win with money over a few months and going to weekly sessions makes it kind of like a "Stuff Addicts" meeting. =)

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November 30, 20090 found this helpful

People spend to fill a void in our lives, to raise our spirits when we are down, and because we are addicted to it-as well as hypnotized into it by ads everywhere. that said, it is very, very difficult to fight it. I've fought it for 30 years, and where am I now? with two maxed out credit cards and living from one check to the next. I will do well for a while, then fall back into the habit of spending. there is Shopaholics, but I haven't been, don't know how well it would work.

The usual savings plans don't work for me, I justify, jumble accounts, don't balance a checkbook (can't handle numbers, I'm dislexic that way) and forget about bills that are not my standard bills and spend the money I should be saving to pay the non-standard bills. I see what I'm doing, but getting myself out of it is an internal cat fight which I rarely ever win. and now with the credit card changes, it's harder than ever to get out.

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Anonymous Flag
December 1, 20090 found this helpful

It's totally a human frailty and normal! I too am on disability and what I do to avoid over spending is to try to focus on 'needs' and make it fun to shop for those needs icluding food, toiletries, transportation, etc. with coupons and discounts and also shop for certain 'needed' items at the Goodwill or Salvation Army stores as if they are Macy's :-) When I have a moment of drooling over what I think I 'want' I take a deep breath and ask myself, "Can I 'live' without it?"

Every time I can tell myself I can indeed live without it and simply go home, give my kitty, Rachel, a hug and sometimes take the extra step to call my very best friend or talk to neighbors to share thoughts of how Blessed I am to not be homeless :-) Oh, and I also make a game of saving pennys, nickles, dimes, quarters and dollar bills in various places for a rainy 'gonna splurge' day and that way I don't beat myself up :-) I so hope this helps you!

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December 1, 20090 found this helpful

I had the exact same problem...probably still do, but I signed up with a credit counciiing service and now have a little extra money each month. My biggest downfall was mail order catalogs. So, I now browse the catalogs like always and fill out the order blank with anything I like. Then I put it away for a few days. When I take it back out I can hardly ever remember why I wanted the items. In the past I would have sent it off immediately and when I received the stuff I would have then wondered why I wanted the items. I still spend too much when I shop at Walmart. But there, too, I can add any items I like to my cart and re evaluate before going through the check out. I can usually put back several items. I know this isn't much but it may help a little.

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December 1, 20090 found this helpful

Start with the amount of money you receive each month. Write that number down if you need to do that. Then, write and deduct the amount of each bill you have to sustain your life. That would be housing (mortgage or rent), electricity, heat, insurance, and telephone. Really look at these necessities to see if there is any way you can lower those bills. For example, are you paying too much for your cell phone bills or a higher tv cable package than you really need? Do not shop as entertainment. Only buy what you really need. Before you purchase ANY item, ask yourself if you really need it or if you only want it. Again, only purchase what you really need.

Consider changing jobs or get an education so you can earn more money. If you are not working, get some type of job even if it is only part time. If you are working a full time job, get a part time job to supplement your income. I wish you the best of everything life has to offer.

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December 1, 20090 found this helpful

I too receive a disability, but worked for eight years part time. You can do that too. Most people with disabilities are able to work part time and not full time.

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December 1, 20090 found this helpful

Welcome to reality! This is all great advice, but, the truth is....lots of us are in the same boat! If you pay your mortgage, heat, lights, water, telephone, television, and internet, you don't have anything left over for food! I have 2 jobs and still can't afford everything. I juggle bills all the time! I walk around in the dark, with several layers of clothes on. I live very frugally; just basic television channels and internet lite, and basic telephone no "long distance plan", etc. and still have trouble coming up with the mortgage payments. Can't sell the house in today's market, so don't feel you are alone! We all have it rough. Hang in there. Oh, and I have a College Degree. So more education, which is usually unaffordable, doesn't really help! I'm waiting for the economy to pick up so I can sell my home, move into a 1 bedroom house and maybe afford to buy food! All you can do is to keep an upbeat attitude and realize that there are people worse off than you. Check out your local food banks. They are lifesavers!

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Anonymous Flag
December 1, 20090 found this helpful

I would like to mention regarding the responses about working part time or switching jobs that many people with disabilities simply are not able to even though they truly want to :-( Their job is waking up from day to day and working at taking care of themselves and situations as best they can and contribute as much as they can for others so as not to become a burden to their loved ones and society. kitkatk100's idea about the money sealed in weekly envelopes is excellent!

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