5 Signs You Have a Problem With Spending Money

The following is a guest post.

Research has shown that for some people, spending money can be as addictive as alcohol or drugs. As with these addictions, the first step toward taming your problem is realizing you have one. Watch for these five signs.

spending problem 

1. You spend more than you earn

This one can be a bit deceptive. Of course, if you can’t keep up with your bill payments every month, it’s pretty clear you are spending more than you have.

However, you may still have a spending problem even if you are keeping up with your payments. If you are only paying the minimum payment every month and your debt keeps growing, it’s likely you have a spending problem.


2. You have a house full of things you don’t need or use

Do you have a closet full of clothes and shoes you never wear? Do you buy fancy appliances that you rarely, if ever, use? If so, you probably have a spending problem.

Whether your overspending is due to impulse purchases or just simply because you can’t pass up a deal, even on something you know you don’t need, a house full of stuff you don’t need is a telltale sign.

The good news here is that you may be able to sell some of this stuff to help pay off some of your debt.


3. You avoid looking at your bills

If you simply look at the minimum payment due on your statement each month and write out a check, you may have a spending problem.

This type of behavior means you are avoiding the truth about how much you owe each month and how much you are spending.

The thinking is that if you don’t know the details and depth of your problem, you can deny you have a problem. But that’s not going to make it go away.


4. Your friends and family tell you that you have a problem

Perhaps you have a nosy aunt or cousin who can’t mind their own business. If they tell you that you have a spending problem, it may be something to shrug off.

However, if a trusted friend or loved one, such as your brother or mother, express concern about your spending habits, it’s probably something to listen to, especially if it’s coming from more than one person.


5. You’ve got collectors hounding you

If you have accounts past due and your creditors are calling you and sending you letters, that’s a very good indicator that you have a problem.

At this point, it’s no longer something you can ignore and if you don’t take action to get a handle on your spending and debt, it’s going to do long-term damage to your credit.

A credit counseling firm can help you with budgeting and counseling on how to reduce your spending and it can also work on forming a Debt Reduction Plan to help you pay down your debt.

The Debt Reduction Plan is similar to the Individual Voluntary Arrangement, or IVA that is used in Britain.

An IVA is a plan negotiated with unsecured creditors for repayment of debt. The IVA is a bit more formal than a debt reduction or debt management plan. The IVA is usually with a group of creditors, while a debt management plan can be negotiated with just one, but both the IVA and the debt management plan have the same goal and that’s to keep you out of bankruptcy.

However, neither an IVA nor a debt management plan will give you long-term relief unless you change your spending habits.

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About John Miro

Writer. Blogger. Helper. Regular posts about debt freedom, intentional living, and personal finance, with some travel mixed in.
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28 Responses to 5 Signs You Have a Problem With Spending Money

  1. Modest Money says:

    I should forward this post to my ex. She definitely has a bit of a spending problem. I’m saving so much more money after we broke up lol.
    Modest Money recently posted..Partying Philosophy 101: Why You Shouldn’t Be Generous, Even If You’re Filthy RichMy Profile

  2. WorkSaveLive says:

    Yeah…all of those are pretty tell-tale signs.

    Unfortunately many people think it’s normal to have those issues and don’t realize that they have MASSIVE PROBLEMS.
    WorkSaveLive recently posted..Why We Didn’t Sell Our Car on CraigslistMy Profile

    • John says:

      Yeah, the “everybody is doing it” mentality rules in this area and makes it too easy to let these habits rule your life. Thanks WSL!

  3. I think the biggest problem is what you hit on in #2. People buy things just to buy things even if there is no real need for them.
    Sean @ One Smart Dollar recently posted..Money Saving Tips – Comparison ShoppingMy Profile

    • John says:

      I’ve learned to really question purchases and even delay them to see if the “need” goes away. Thanks for stopping by Sean!

  4. My wife likes to go shopping randomly sometimes when she is stressed out, she says it is a stress reliever. If I’m stressed, last thing I want to do is spend money since I will probably stress out more after that.
    Evan @ Smart Wealth recently posted..Our “little” bathroom renovation part 2.My Profile

    • John says:

      Hey Evan – I’m with you. Even going into a store causes me stress – mainly due to the people. Thanks for reading

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  6. In my past life I was 4 for 5 of these. Not good at all. I definitely had an issue I needed to resolve. I think for me my spending was a result of emotional turmoil and stress. I had a lot going on my life at the time and it was affecting my decision making. I am so glad I have turned things around now.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..My Story on How to Successfully Take Courses While Working Full TimeMy Profile

    • John says:

      I hear ya. I think my spending in my 20s was a product of not having much growing up, then thinking I was rich because I had a paycheck that wasn’t minimum wage.

      Thanks for stopping by Miss T

  7. Man am I glad that I fit 0 of these, guess I’m okay for now! 🙂
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Getting Fired From my Job to go on UnemploymentMy Profile

    • John says:

      You’ve passed the quiz, TB. Now you gotta get yourself fired from your job and you’ll be golden!

  8. I’d say No 1. is the biggest problem. How much you earn isn’t as big a deal as how much you spend.
    Roy Marvelous recently posted..Introducing Stickmen & Unicorns (Enter To Win Original Shitty Art)My Profile

    • John says:

      I agree – that’s how you get homeless people with bigger net worths than those who drive by them in a BMW with a scowl.

      Glad you stopped by – really enjoy your site!

  9. Katie says:

    I have some family members with spending problems. It does no good to say anything to them though because they don’t recognize it as a problem. .

    • John says:

      It’s always tough to watch people we love engage in destructive behavior. Sometimes it’s best to let them be, which is a shame. Thanks for weighing in, Katie.

  10. No. 6: You hide your spending from others. I’ve had a lot of co-workers tell me about this horror of a tale. You know you’ve got problems if it gets to that level.
    MyMoneyDesign recently posted..Adding Your Children’s College Savings to the BudgetMy Profile

    • John says:

      Great point. If you are buying things then hiding them, it seems that you are shopping just to shop, which is a compulsion. Thanks for stopping by MMD!

  11. Yea, like looking in a mirror. Well a mirror of the OLD me. The new me is not any of those anymore, well I could be #5 but I think they gave up on me b/c my phone has been remarkably quiet!
    Jessica, The Debt Princess recently posted..Uprinting GiveawayMy Profile

    • John says:

      Hi Jessica-I think we can all see a bit of ourselves in that mirror. It’s scary enough to make sure we get out of debt and stay out. Glad you stopped by

  12. Richard says:

    Yes, these are all big clues to problem spending. I run across this problem in my own life, particularly when I end up with a house full of things I don’t need. I find that avoiding credit card spending and sticking to a cash budget really helps me stay disciplined with my spending.
    Richard recently posted..Audible Brings Books Alive for Book LoversMy Profile

  13. John says:

    Hi Richard, thanks for reading and commenting. I know how you feel. Cash was the thing that really allowed us to gain control and push to pay off our debt.

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  15. nicole says:

    I usually buy myself something twice a month. I usually end up spending $100.00 all together, then I feel bad or stupid for doing it.. is this normal? I usually hold on to my money for emergencies. I always feel that that money could have gone to a better cause…

    • John says:

      Depends on your debt and income. If you are in good shape, I think you are okay. But then there’s the whole angle of “it only matters how you feel.” If $100/month is making you feel really bad, it might be wise to find a way to curb it. Thanks for reading!

  16. Looking 4 Help says:

    This is all great, I am all of this. I want control of what I have and be a better provider. Are there groups out there that provide counseling? I am not talking about debt counseling. I am not a drug addict but I know a few of them and I truly understand what an addiction means. (Try explaining that to someone who thinks you can just stop). I don’t do bad things with my money I just spend it. The hadest thing is when you need the cash and you have alrady spent it, now you rob Petter to pay Paul and you think you can get it back some how! I keep fooling myself for the last 23 years! Wow this creates a huge stress on me and my family. I try to share with my wife but she says that I am a selfish person with no regard to our family. I am looking for some deeper help. I’m in the Sacramento area and ready for a change. I know you wrote the story I hope you have some contacts.

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