Why Americans can't keep lifestyle spending in check

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By Jennifer Liu

Deciding what to do each time you get your paycheck can easily turn into an angel versus devil on each shoulder debate.

On the one hand, you know you should pay yourself first to keep your financial goals on track. But then that ever-present temptation to "treat yourself" starts to kick in, too.

Sound familiar? Then you're in good company.

According to a new poll, 44 percent of Americans who earn more than $75,000 a year say they aren't able to save as much as they should thanks to their "lifestyle purchases."

Their biggest splurge? Fine dining, with an overwhelming 68 percent of people pointing to pricey meals out as the top culprit.

Of course, all that extra spending can have a major impact on finances. After all, a third of people in the study said that this lack of discipline -- not their income -- is what ultimately holds them back from hitting their money goals.

In fact, just about 53 percent of poll participants between 35 and 44 believe they are saving enough to retire comfortably. And those 45 to 54 years old are even less confident: just 37 percent feel their nest eggs are on track.

The bottom line: no matter how hefty of a paycheck you bring home, it's easy to eat into your monthly budget ... literally.

Of course, here's the upside to these findings: much of these overextended lifestyle purchases can be curbed. Learn how to budget successfully -- while still allowing for splurges -- with the one-number strategy.
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