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The problem with creating a budget is that it’s just the first step. The next, and often more difficult, step is sticking to that budget. You know you only have a certain amount of money set aside to spend for the month but find yourself tempted to spend more. Overspending can bust your budget, leave you in debt and hurt your credit score. Here are some factors to consider to avoid that bleak future.

1. Assess Your Mood

Before you head out to window shop or turn on the computer to browse online, assess your mood. Overspending can be triggered by the need to feel good. It’s often called retail therapy. You get bad news, feel disappointed or depressed and you shop to forget your worries.

In reality, overspending can add to your financial worries. Think of other ways to make yourself feel better like working out, watching TV or calling a friend. If you really want to buy something, take a set amount of cash and leave the credit cards at home to ensure you can’t go overboard.

2. Understand Your Environment

Be aware that many stores have been optimized to make you spend more money. Look closely at sale signs to see if you would really be getting a bargain.

Be wary of who you pick as a shopping companion. We all have thrifty friends and those who more willingly splurge. If you are trying to avoid spending money, it’s probably best to avoid shopping with that friend who encourages you to buy.

3. Double-Check Your Reason

Before you set foot in the stores, think about what you are actually shopping for and try to stick to it. Just as you make a grocery list, perhaps you could try making a list for other shopping trips. This will force you to really analyze your reasons for shopping. Try separating it into needs and wants. If you are looking for an outfit to wear to a wedding, that should be your focus. You may get distracted by the shoe display, but your list can help keep you on task.

4. Think of the Opportunity Cost

This is a good trick that can put the purchase in perspective. Instead of focusing on the item in front of you, think about what you are giving up. Consider whether you would still buy that $99 dress if someone was offering you $99 instead. If you would pick the cash, then don’t buy the item. If you love the item enough to choose it over the money and it fits in your budget, go for it!

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