10 Signs You're a Closet Spendthrift


On the surface it may seem like you have all your finaces under control — and perhaps you've convinced yourself that you do — but you may be a closet spendthrift and not even know it. (See also: 10 Mindless Ways You Spend Money)

How can you tell if you're subconsciously burning through cash faster than you should? Check out these 10 indicators, and sound off on other characteristics of closet spendthrifts below.

1. You Avoid Opening Bills

Opening mail is fun — when it's from somebody we like. But those somebodies never seem to include bill collectors.

"The credit card bills arrive, and you don't open them — because subconsciously, you don't want to see what you owe because you know, deep down, that you've spent too much," says April Masini, relationship expert at AskApril.

Is she describing you?

Time to face the facts: If you avoid opening your bills because you're afraid of the number that will be staring back, you have a problem that needs to be addressed in more ways than one.

2. You're Selling Off Possessions Quite Frequently

I advocate selling items of value when you no longer have use for them or you need a quick influx of cash, but if you're constantly searching for things to sell or pawn so you can rob Peter to pay Paul, it's time to reign it in.

You shouldn't go through life on the edge of overdraft because you're buying unnecessary things on a regular basis. Case in point: If the things you're selling are things you bought without any real intention or purpose, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

3. You're Eating Most Meals Out

This is one of the most common indicators that someone is a closet spendthrift. Dining out is expensive on a rare basis, but it's ungodly how much money you're spending if takeout is your regular routine. It's easy to pull it off without feeling guilty because it's food and you have to eat — or whatever else you're convincing yourself to believe to justify the expense.

Take Kris Ruby, for instance, who recently admitted that she spends $11,000 a year on takeout. Sure, you might have a high-paying New York City job, but seriously, $11,000 because you're lazy? That's about $8,000 more than a moderately frugal single person should be paying for home prepared food per year. That situation is completely out of control — not to mention unhealthy — and somebody should tell her what's up. Completely frivolous for no good reason.

4. You're Constantly Transferring Money Between Accounts

If you're constantly transferring money from one account to another — like your savings to your checking — maybe you should take a few minutes to see the itemized list of purchases on your online account for a reality check. If you're bleeding cash from a coffee here and a snack there, or trying to afford what your friends are doing, it's time to take a good look at where your money is going. If you don't like what you see — and it's very likely you won't — take steps to cut back on some of your loose-wallet ways moving forward.

5. You Go Out When You Shouldn't to Avoid Looking Financially Strapped

We'd all like to do all the fun activities that our friends invite us to do, kick back at the bar, dine at the nicest restaurants...but that's not often the reality when we're working just to make ends meet. If you find yourself going out more often that you should — and specifically when you're financially strapped just to avoid looking like you're broke — you should start reevaluating your priorities. Fun is fleeting, just like your cash. But it's much wiser and more valuable to preserve the latter in the long run.

6. You Bounce Checks

Bouncing checks like rubber balls? Not only is that practice irresponsible but it's incredibly costly considering that you have to pay at least a $25 return fee, if not other fees.

"You're bouncing checks, and you avoid your finances because they're a black and white reminder that you're out of control with your spending," says Mansini of AskApril. "When you have to look at your bank account balance, and all you see are numbers, how cute or how awesome a purchase made you feel, isn't apparent."

Monitor your account frequently — I check mine every morning — to ensure that you're not susceptible to an overdraft. Money was much easier to manage back when everything was logged in a checkbook, but you can still stay on top of your funds at a glance if you're not exactly financially minded (even though you should change that).

7. You Find It Difficult to Afford the Essentials a Few Days After Payday

When I was younger, I was a spendthrift. For someone who got paid only twice monthly, that's not a good combination. You see, the problem with being a spendthrift and getting paid every two weeks is that I spent twice the amount of money in half the amount of time. There were several days in a row where I had to go without something — like lunch — because I spent too much money at the bar. That's a terrible lifestyle that leads to debt — and maybe depression. Budget your money appropriately — perhaps take a certain amount of cash out for the week and when it's gone, it's gone — if you feel like you're in a similar situation.

8. You Avoid Answering Questions About Your Recent Purchases

When I was in college and my parents were giving me a bit of spending money for groceries and other necessities, they would always ask how I got the new clothes or shoes that I was wearing when they noticed. They knew how I got them, of course, but it always made me feel bad that I was now faced with the reality of wasting money — their money. If you find yourself embarrassed about your recent purchases — because of the price of the item of because you sacrificed something you needed for something you wanted — take action and cut back on the impulses so you don't have to be ashamed with how you're spending your money.

9. You're Frequently Asking Someone for Money — Like Your Parents

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. If you're always asking someone for money — because you've spent all yours and you have nothing to show for it — it's time to grow up and get a better job or suck it up and learn to be an adult who can't always get what they want.

10. You Make Excuses to Buy Anything

This is an actual medical condition, so if you're shopping has gotten totally out of hand — like you're in major credit card debt because of it — it's time to seek professional help. You're not only a closet spendthrift, but there may be some other underlying psychological issues that are driving you to spend money. When you can't get through the day without spending a little something, you've got a problem that needs fixing — fast.

Have you noticed other signs of a closet spendthrift? Please share them in comments.

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