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Be Centsible

Do you really need that? 

Do you really need that? 

In an age dominated by social media and keeping up with the latest trends, it is easy to overspend on “wants” and ignore spending on “needs”. It doesn’t help that advertisements are constantly being viewed while using social media. For example, Instagram has integrated a “shopping” tab within the app that allows users to buy an item directly from an advertisement. These advertisements are personalized based on past views and clicks which means the ads you see will more likely appeal to you. Whether it be the latest clothing, technology, or something that just looks cool, it’s easy to allow yourself to fall into the trap of overspending on something you don’t need. 

It doesn’t stop at social media advertisements though.  Coffee shops and restaurants also make it easy for you to fall into the trap of unnecessarily spending money on items. It is becoming more common for college students to spend their money on unnecessary purchases in order to cope with stress and anxiety from school.  

However, there are some ways that you can prevent yourself from spending too much. The first step would be to create a spending plan.  Make sure that you are staying within your budget and if you find yourself going over budget, set spending limits on any credit and debit cards you have. It is also helpful to track all of your spending and identify any spending triggers you may have. This will help you better understand what actions you need to take to stop overspending. These spending triggers include vocabulary or imagery that can influence you to purchase something. 

Another way to prevent yourself from buying unnecessary items is to compile a list of low-cost alternatives, stick to them, and use that money you otherwise would’ve spent and put it into a savings account or towards paying off credit card debt. This will help you create short-term financial goals that will build a healthier savings account and spending habits. Through patience, willpower, and commitment you can stop overspending and start building wiser spending behaviors. 

Written by Joe Zangri, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, University of Illinois Extension, Spring 2021. Reviewed by Kathy Sweedler, University of Illinois Extension.

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