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Consumer Spending Habits

Consumers spend for different internal and external reasons. The psychological aspect to spending is a factor that many do not consider when dissecting how habits create a lifestyle. Many people learn to spend money without learning how to save, budget, and the concept of delay gratification to get ahead financially. Consumers Will Continue Spending In 2024.

Overspending, living without a budget

It is common for consumers to spend more money than they earn. According to research from, 74% of consumers say they have a budget, but 79% fail to follow it.

Overspending can be defined as spending beyond one’s means. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed by, overspending happened in the categories of online and grocery shopping. In addition to those categories, subscription services, tech products, buying lunch daily, household items, and coffee also contributed to overspending. Even if there is a budget in place, many are likely not living within the limits of that budget. Consumers enjoy the immediate and temporary high of spending more than they enjoy living within a budget that provides financial comfort over time.

Delayed Gratification

Delayed gratification is the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in hope of obtaining a more-valued reward in the future as defined by The impulse decision brings more immediate pleasure, but the delayed decision is typically the most financially beneficial. In psychology, delayed gratification is explained with the pleasure principle and reality principle. The pleasure principle is an individual’s drive to seek pleasure and avoid pain to fulfill their physiological and psychological needs (Tester, 2009). The reality principle is the individual’s ability to assess the reality of their external environment to guide their behavior (Tester, 2009). It takes a strong-willed individual to say no to something that’s desired immediately.

Payday Spending

Consumers also feel entitled to spend, particularly on payday. On payday, consumers feel richer from the influx of cash and tend to buy pricier items. Businesses are aware of this consumer behavior, and market their goods and services to capitalize on it.

Consumers should practice controlled spending habits that benefit their financial future. Practice saving, delayed gratification, and living within a budget that is reasonable for your income level and avoid spending unnecessarily. Be accountable to yourself and the habits you desire to create to control your spending. Start with small, disciplined activities, such as saving a small amount of money per paycheck or reducing how often you eat out per week.  The small changes that you make will help encourage you to make additional changes—which will in return assist in controlling the emotional highs related to spending money.


Kerr, E. 2022, US News, Inside the Psychology of Overspending and How to stop.

Tester, K. 2009, Psykologisk Institut, Journal of Anthropological Psychology, 21, 23-6.

O’Brien, S. 2019, CNBC, Consumers overspend by $7,400 a year. Here are the weekly splurges that cause the most trouble. <>

Yilmaz, E. The Berkeley Well-Being Institute, Delayed Gratification: Definition, Example, & Quotes.,pleasure%20with%20the%20pleasure%20principle%20and%20reality%20principle.

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