This sentence is from a conversation in which a person is asking for advice from a councellor because he can't pay bills, etc, so is asking for advice on how to make the family budget. The councellor says to the man this:

"Looking at your expenditure, you are over-committed to the extent of $250 a month and you will have to make some changes in your spending habits.

I could not understand the sentence properly, especially the part ".....over-committed to the extent of $250 a month".

I would say "Every month, you seem to spend 250 dollars more than your budget allows".

But I am not sure if the original sentence exactly means this.

So I want to ask:

1- Why is there a word "extent", which is obscure here. Does it mean amount? or a degree of a problem or a seriousness level of an issue?

2- If it means amount, why should someone commit themselves to spending more where he is in hardship. "to commit is something you want to do". So why should I force myself to spend more. That does not make sense does it?

3- Does the sentence mean; you promised someone(eg a bank) to pay more than ($250) you would be able to pay in a month and this TOO MUCH amount is nearly $250 a month.

4-Can we replace "to the extent of $250" with "an amount that might go up to $250?


  • 1
    Your interpretation of the sentence is correct. Extent has its normal meaning. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/extent
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 12:25
  • 1
    As you surmise, it's another way of saying up to. It's not a question of committing oneself to this amount, but of confronting spending/expenses that arise in the course of the month. Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 12:34

1 Answer 1


"You are over-committed to the extent of $250 a month."

"Every month, you seem to spend 250 dollars more than your budget allows."

The above sentences mean the same.

Q1) 'Extent' here does not refer to an amount, but a degree of a problem; 'to the extent of' can mean 'to a level of seriousness amounting to'.

Q2 is on spending and is hard to answer, as we are not in that person's shoes.

Q3) If your query can be reworded as follows, then your interpretation is right.

'That person promised someone or an entity, e.g. a bank, that he would pay the latter a monthly amount that could exceed what he could afford by $250.'

Q4 "to the extent of $250" and "an amount that might go up to $250" mean different things but, with an added 'by' to the latter, they should be close.

"you are over-committed [by] an amount that might go up to $250 a month"

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