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Five Types of Overspenders

People spend—and overspend—for a lot of reasons. Here are five reasons may people spend more than they have. If you have trouble overspending, uncovering why is an important step in learning to reign in the behavior and get on track to financial stability.

Overspender #1: The Primal Male

A study reveals that overspending among males may be traced to cavemen. Long ago, men’s value (and appeal to mates) was based upon their ability to provide food, shelter, and protection. Fast forward a few thousands years, and what says “I’ve got money” to potential hook-ups than the latest clothes, cars, and electronics. The study pegged high levels of spending and debt to increased sexual activity with multiple partners.

Overspender #2: The Financially Ignorant

Perhaps most often, overspending is simply the result of ignoring one’s personal finances. If you never consider how much money is coming in and how much is going out, it’s easy to get into trouble. Has this happened to you? Check out the many budgeting tools available that can help.

Overpspender #3: The Status Seeker

Similar to the primal male, the status seeker is the one always trying to keep up with the Joneses, although it the problem is less biological and more social. Status seekers buy cars, clothes, and houses that are too rich for their incomes and will do anything to preserve their inflated lifestyle—even when financial ruin is knocking at the door.

Overspender #4: The Compulsive Shopper

For some, spending isn’t just a problem, it’s an addiction. Shopaholics Anonymous defines compulsive shoppers as people who buy to relieve anxiety. No different than alcoholism or drug addiction, compulsive shoppers may be driven to do anything to buy that next item—or to cover up their addiction or the debt or criminal activity used to finance it.

Overspender #5: The Underearner

Some people don’t have a spending problem, they have an earning problem. The fact is, many minimum- and low-wage jobs in America don’t pay enough to maintain a lifestyle above the poverty line. In more expensive parts of the country, you need to make a lot more than minimum wage just to get by. If this is you, it’s time to take a second job, go back to school, or start a business on the side and boost your income!

Have you ever fallen into one of these categories of overspenders? Are there any I’m missing?

Editor’s note: Thanks to The Dough Roller who hosted this week’s Festival of Frugality, which included my post introducing the bank comparison Web site BankAround.

Published or updated on January 7, 2009

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Mother of six overspender says:

    I really need help with spending to much. I need some one any one who can chat with me.

  2. Carole says:

    Can you please help me find support groups that rely on the 12 step program for overspenders? I live in Michigan and there is a Debtors Anonymous group in Farmington Hills which is about an hour away one way. Also, does Debtors Anonymous provide the overspending relief I need from compulsive shopping? I am also in my own business and am lackadaisical about its operation. Sincerely, Carole from Michigan

  3. BankerBryan says:

    How about the “Credit Gourmet?” The person who thinks “making dinner” means ordering up some pizza or going out to a restaurant. Their excuse is often something along the lines of “I can’t cook.”

  4. nadia says:

    I’m a 4 and a 5. This year, I’m going to pay off the rest of my credit debt and purchase my dream home by the summer. I’ve been talking to a few real estate industry professionals and they’ve pointed me into the direction of companies that offer monetary incentives toward the purchase of a home. Taylor Morrison (http://dreambig.taylormorrison.com/?utm_source=bc) has been extremely helpful throughout the purchase process and their incentive program has also helped me out. Hopefully I can move in by this summer! I’ve changed my spending ways and am happy with the outcome!

  5. I think I was #2, #3 and #4. A combination of all 3 got me into some lackadaisical financial management.

    Luckily, I’m out of it now…!!

    Fabulously Broke in the City
    Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver…

  6. In my experience the ignorant tend to do well so long as they don’t qualify in one of the other areas too. Up until thier newest purchase, my parents were always taken for a ride when buying cars. Dad has always overpaid for products he uses regularly because in his eyes it isn’t even worth his time to find a better deal. But because he’s all set in the other areas, he comes out on top.

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