How to stop the payday splurge according to 4 experts

We talked to four diverse money experts about how you can be more mindful when you get that twice-monthly nut. Here are the strategies you need.

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Do you regularly find yourself with “more month than money”? Maybe it’s because of the lure of every payday, where you find your index finger yourself hovering over the Sephora app or whirling through another weekend of late-night drinks and early brunch, putting a dent in your paycheck before you’ve even had the chance to buy groceries. We talked to four diverse money experts about how you can be more mindful when you get that twice-monthly nut. Here’s how to squirrel it away and have strategies planned out beforehand before you hit “click purchase” or do anything you regret (or that isn’t returnable.)

April Lane Benson, Ph.D., psychologist and author of To Buy of Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop

“There are rules you can follow and adopt – like commit to yourself that anything you put in your [online shopping] cart, you’re going to give yourself a 24-hour waiting period. And if you’re worried about missing out on [an item], it’s important to remember, a year from now, you will not remember what it is you missed out on. In the heat of the moment, you think the object is so much more important.


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I have people ask themselves six questions, and answer them preferably in writing before they make the purchase.

  • Why am I here?
  • How do I feel?
  • Do I need this?
  • What if I wait?
  • How will I pay for it?
  • Where will I put it?

Why in writing? Because that gives it one more channel and one more delay.

And if you still want to buy it after waiting 24 hours and going through this process, you do. Because you’ve thought it through. Even if it’s not the perfect purchase, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Jean Chatzky, NBC TODAY financial expert and author of Women with Money: The Judgement-Free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less Stressed, Purposeful (and Yes, Rich) Life You Want

“The first step is to document where you are splurging on [paydays]. For a month, make careful note of what you’re buying, because a lot of spending like this happens unconsciously. If you note where your money is going, then you have the opportunity to look backward, and decide if those particular splurges line up with your values and where you actually want your money to be going. And if they don’t, that gives you some ammunition to start to change it.

The second thing is to allocate a particular amount of your money for splurging. You know you’re going to do it, you know you want to do it. Give yourself a splurge budget, so that when you spend, you’re not doing something that’s outside the lines, you’re doing something that’s planned.

The final thing is to save. The other way to protect yourself from budget-busting is to fill those buckets in your budget that are non-negotiable and saving is one of them, preferably automatically.”

Kelly Crane, financial planner, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Napa Valley Wealth Management

“One of the ways you can deal with [payday splurge] that’s pretty easy and can be built upon is if you have – let’s say your paycheck is deposited into your checking account. At that same institution, you have your savings account or money market that’s linked to it. As soon as you get your deposit, the first thing you do is transfer some money or have it automatically taken from your checking to your savings. So that’s your medium-term account, and the idea is to build that up to be a reserve, so if you have a problem, you have some cash available.

But the thing that makes it work really well is that once you at least have a little bit of money in there, now you can have your longer-term investments come out of that account. You could then direct money on a regular basis to your IRAs or your other accounts [like your 401k] where you’re trying to be a little more long-term.”

Stefanie O’Connell, Millennial money expert and author of The Broke and Beautiful Life

“One of the ways to avoid that pinch of having more month left than money, spending too much on payday, is knowing how much we typically spend so we know how much we actually need to fulfill our monthly cost of living.”

“Using an app like Mint that really tracks your financial in-flows and outflows so you can see in real time where you stand with your money in the moment is invaluable. The more mindful you are about how much your cost of living is on a month-to-month basis, the more freedom you’re going to have to spend the way that fulfills your needs without getting out of hand. It’s only when you run out of money because you splurged on something that day you got paid that you start really feeling that stress and overwhelm. Whereas if you are being really diligent and tracking and staying mindful of the money on a day to day basis – then you know exactly where you stand, and there’s a sense of power and control in that feeling.

“[Also], create visual reminders for big-picture goals. It can be anything from trying to get out of debt to going on a vacation to paying for a wedding to financing a child’s education. Make that visual image part of your life. Make it the desktop background on your computer, your phone background. Print out a picture and put it in your wallet next to your credit cards, so that every time you’re thinking about making a purchase, you’re reminded of what that goal is.”


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.