Do You Have A Spending Problem?

by Hank Coleman

broken-piggy-bankI pulled up to the drive-through window of my favorite fast food restaurant and ordered the meal that I always get. When I drove around to pay, the cashier said hi and mentioned that she hadn’t seen me there in a while. I obviously go there too often.

I also find myself getting a little upset when people oust me on Foursquare as a mayor of any one of my favorite restaurants. It irks me. I’m mayor of several, and I feel a sense of competition when someone steals the title.

There is a telling pattern in this that may mean I have a spending problem. There are other clues, of course. Here are some signs that we may not even recognize as clues that we are potentially overspending.

Real Life Feels Like A “Cheers” Episode

It is a bad sign when a sales clerk knows your name. I used to think that it was cool that my local bartender knew my name. Like Norm on “Cheers,” it feels great when people know you.

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The problem is that you have to go to a bar or a store a long time for someone to know you. It’s a clear warning sign and a clue that you may be spending too much time and money in an establishment.

Even though the cashier didn’t know my name at the fast food restaurant, that she recognized me meant I had been going there too much. My wallet and my midsection were taking the brunt of ordering the same meal, week in and week out.

Businesses Are Emailing You More Often Than Friends

I probably get more than 100 emails every day. And more than half are from stores or online retailers, bombarding me with deals and coupons.

A daily email from our favorite retail stores is a temptation. A great way to control your spending and beat them at their own game is to get rid of as many temptations as possible. Delete the emails. Unsubscribe from the lists. Purge your newsletter subscriptions.

Will you miss great deals from these companies? Of course. But do you really need these coupons and the temptation to buy something at every turn? You would do far better at looking for online coupons from websites like RetailMeNot and CouponPal when you need to buy something instead of being solicited every day.

Stores Send You Birthday Gifts

I didn’t even know that stores sent birthday and Christmas gifts to their best customers until my wife received a $50 gift card in the mail from Tory Burch. She also told me her best friend received a cashmere blanket last Christmas from Banana Republic. How much do you have to spend in a given year at a store to receive a “free” cashmere blanket?

Stores are doing more than simply tracking purchases and trends with their email lists and loyalty programs. Is this the middle class equivalent to the comps that casinos give to “whale” gamblers?

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Do you have a spending problem? Have you been ignoring the warning signs? Did I miss any? 

Want to see other tips on how to recognize if you have a spending problem? Be sure to check out the complete article on AOL Daily Finance.

Note: This article has been reprinted with permission.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]

Hank Coleman has written 593 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Myles Money

You know you’re spending too much when the ATM is on first-name terms… 🙂


Nik @ Midlife Finance

Just like you, I feel happy and proud when someone in a restaurant (crew or cashier) notice me or just simply greet. Although it’s a good sign, you’re right that I am spending too much time and money in that restaurant or any business establishment.

I think when you’re going to the mall for so many times each week, 4-5 times for example. That could also be a sign that you have a spending problem.



I dont have a spending problem but my girlfriend has. It surprises me when we pass by a favourite store and she can move out without a pair of shoes. I am not complaining but I think thats a problem she has.



Great article. This is the most effective way to know and learn about your spending problem. This will be very useful and helpful for those who cannot manage their spending. Read and understand the article and you will get a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing this article. I will share this information with my friends. Very informative.


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