If you google “How to stop spending money” you're probably going to get some awesome tips.
Hey. Maybe that is how you ended up here in the first place. And while all those tips and tricks are great how realistic are they?
I mean really. It can't be that hard. Grab yourself a Dave Ramsey book. Put your credit card in the freezer, try out a cash-only system, or just don't leave the house. Easy. We got this!
Or do we…
See while all those ideas are great I am going to be a realist and say they don't work for everyone. If it were that easy we wouldn't be googling “How to stop spending money”.
So I decided to take some of my favorite tips on how I personally stopped overspending and share why it works (for me) so you can consider whether it is worth trying out for yourself
Why do we overspend in the first place?
Probably because we don't make enough money in the first place. That's most likely what you're thinking.
I mean if we made more money then we wouldn't be overspending now would we…
But I am here to burst your bubble.
We are not overspending because we don't have enough. We are overspending because we are completely unaware.
When I look back at the times that I have overspent in my life both in the present and in the past here are some instances that I have come across.
Social Media is a money pit
It starts off as fairly innocent. I mean how much trouble can you really get into just sitting on the couch scrolling through Instagram. I mean it's way cheaper than a round of drinks at the bar.
But here is what happens. Everyone on the gram seems to have the most perfect outfits (add to cart), perfectly styled homes (that rug would look great in my living room, and seem to know about all the awesome things that will make your life better.
So of course you start shopping. I mean you really need those cute pair of boots everyone seems to be styling. And you justify it because well look at all the cute outfits you saved.
Or better yet someone posts a pic of a cute cafe, coffee or drink and guess what. Now you want to check it out. Even though that cappuccino is going to set you back $10.
I've been there. Resist the urge to try to keep up with the highlight reels you see on social media.
Add things to cart but don't check out. Give yourself a couple of days. If you can't stop thinking about it and you are still dreaming about it a few days later then don't torture yourself and just buy the darn boots.
I find that when I do this I am less likely to come back to that tooo cute dress that I just had to have.
And when I don't, well I end up with these white boots that I have yet to wear even though I have saved a bunch of white boot outfits on Pinterest.
What is it about ice cream and new shoes that just make everything ok?
I don't know. But while it feels good in the moment that feeling is fleeting.
So instead of reaching for your credit card or hitting check out when you're bummed out add stuff to your cart but then walk away.
Chances are you're probably going to forget about all those things you thought you needed. And if you don't then it's ok to treat yourself as long as you can afford it.
Here's the thing. When feel like you got the cash it is easy to just spend willy nilly. But guess what? I don't care how much money you have or don't have.
When you don't have a budget chances are you will end up spending way more than you intend to.
Think about that moment when you go to the grocery store for a pack of gum and walk out $20 poorer than when you walked in.
Yeah I've been there.
How to stop spending money you don't have
Create a Realistic Budget
Everyone will tell you that creating a budget is the best way to keep track of where your money is going. This is a genius way to help curb your spending.
However when creating a budget be realistic. There is no point in putting together a budget that you cannot follow.
Keep things simple when you create a budget. You don't need any fancy software, excel or even a fancy planner.
You can create a budget with a notepad. Start out by listing the amount of money you have coming in. Then make a list of your basic expenses. Think things like food and rent.
Once you have noted how much you need for basic necessities then you can start divvying up the rest of the money between everything else. And don't forget to try to budget for things that you enjoy.
Make a list and check it twice
Yup. I am channeling Santa.
You need to have a list.
Actually you should have two.
I like to have a wishlist (things that I want) and a need list. So for example my need list might have things like milk, eggs and bread. My wishlist my have gummy bears.
Having a list will help you to focus when you go shopping. So if you need shampoo you will buy shampoo. And not anything else.
This works with any type of shopping. Everything from food shopping to clothing shopping. Keep a list and stick to it.
You can use your phone's note section or you can use a simple notebook like this one.
Stick to Cash
I really hate when people tell me to ditch the cards and shop with cash only. I prefer to use my cards to gain points.
And I am one of those people that if I break a $20 on a pack of gum chances are that $20 is as good as gone because I have no way of even remembering what I spent the change on.
Ok. So I said my peace. Now I am going to say it works.
When you have a limited amount to spend then guess what. That is all you're going to spend. If you shop only with cash you have to make sure whatever is in your wallet will cover whatever is in your cart.
When you have a credit card or even a debit card to fall back on its easy to just swipe and deal with it later. And usually by the time you make it to the register and all your purchases add up it might be too late to change your mind. (Or at least that is what you're telling yourself. I have no shame I will put stuff back. Don't stand behind me in the checkout line).
Give it a try and see if it works for you. I have tried it. It works. I just don't like it.
Ditch the Credit Cards
I am not going to tell you to put your cards in a block of ice or cut them up. I am not a cruel person. And I use credit cards (responsibly of course).
What I will tell you is that if you love to online shop do not keep your credit card information saved.
I can't tell you how many times I have added something to cart only to realize that I didn't have my credit card info saved and was too lazy to walk across the room to grab my purse so just abandoned the cart and moved on to something else.
Make it harder to check out. If you have to go get your credit card every time you are ready to check out chances are you will find yourself second guessing that purchase.
So go ahead. Delete all those saved cards (including the one on your phone). I'll wait. Or you can put your phone in a phone jail like this one…
How to stop spending money on unnecessary things
Start a spending diary
If you don't have a handle on how much money you're spending maybe it is time to start a spending diary. (Make it fun with this cute expense tracker).
You can do this with our without a budget. The idea is just to write down what your spending your money on. This will do a few things for you.
First, it will give you a nice snapshot of where your money is going. If you find yourself spending way more than you thought and are $100 short for example take a look at your spending diary and see where you splurged. Being aware is the first step to actually making better money decisions.
Second, when you write things down it gives you a sense of accountability. So if you know you have to write it down you may think twice about actually spending money in the first place.
Just because it is on sale doesn't mean it is a good deal
Don't you love a good sale. You know like when you get an extra 25% off the already marked down price. Ooohh they are soo enticing.
But just because something is on sale doesn't mean that it is a good deal. Sales are supposed to make you want to buy. And it is an amazing feeling when you get a crazy good deal on something.
But is it really good deal if you're never going to use it.
So unless it is something that is on your list (or even your wishlist), it's not a good deal.
I don't care if it is 95% off. I hate to break it to you. But buying something just because it is on sale is a waste of money. Money that you can put towards something you really really want.
Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe
Those sneaky little marketers sure do know how to get you. And I am not made at them. I totally get excited when my favorite brand sends me an email about a too good not to miss sale.
But your email is one of the biggest money pits.
Well those marketing emails with their enticing subject lines and irresistible offers are hard to ignore. And the likelihood of you spending on something that you didn't realize you needed until it was 75% off “for a limited time only” is pretty high.
So to avoid this unsubscribe from those retailers. We tend to be very out of sight out of mind. If we don't see it we are most likely not going to think about it.
So if you don't see that your favorite retailer is having a sale (yet again might I add) then you're not going to be tempted to shop and buy.
Clean out your Closets-I mean all of them
Most people will tell you to shop your closet. Yeah I know boring. Been there done that. I still want to go shopping.
But I am going to challenge you to something better.
You probably heard of Maria Kondo. You may or may not at some point tried to Konmari your life. You may or may not have succeeded. ( I have failed a million times).
I have tried to do the Maria Kondo method. It doesn't work for me. It is soo overwhelming.
However, there is a little side effect to the Konmari method. Regardless of whether you actually follow through with the whole process for some reason, it makes you not wanna shop.
Hear me out.
If you are not familiar with Marie Kondo's techniques one of the things you recommends when decluttering is to empty out all your closest/drawers/wardrobes, I am talking everything.
The idea is to see everything in one place. Then sort into piles. Shirts with shirts, pants with pants and so on.
Seeing everything out in the often and in groups will help you to really see what you have and also will help you to identify the things you don't need (20 pairs of blue jeans that I don't wear) but for whatever reason keep on buying.
For me I am always miserable doing this. But as a result I usually can easily go on a shopping diet because (1) seeing all those clothes that I don't wear is eye opening (2) I think of all the money those clothes cost and (3) realizing I barely have any proper space to put everything back in a nice way.
So give it a try. And let me know if you have a similar side effect.
How can I stop spending money for 30 days?
Try doing a no spend month. Duh.
But wait! What you do mean no spend. Can you tell me a little bit more about no spend really means? Are you talking about no spend as in don't buy anything. Or don't buy anything you don't need.
Here is the thing. Doing a no spend holiday, month or even a year is a great way to stop your spending cold turkey. However how realistic is it?
I gave it a try. And guess what? I failed. By day two I was hungry and even though I had a pantry full of food there wasn't anything in there I actually wanted so I went to Trader Joe's. Cuz that is what we do right?
Here is a better way.
Let's go streaking…
Not that kind of streaking. Challenge yourself to a no-spend streak. See how many days you can go without spending a dime. If you are at all competitive you will want to break your record every single time. It will force you to really think about those purchases you're considering. And it makes for a fun money saving challenge.
How do I train myself to stop spending money?
Becoming Self Aware
Paying attention to your behaviors can really give you insight into why you're spending in the first place. This is also one of the first places to start when working on your money mindset.
Even if you feel like you have complete control there are certain triggers in your life that may in fact contribute to your want, dare I say need to spend money and shop and buy.
This is not something that should be ignored. It is easy to say just stop shopping. Create a new habit. Blah blah blah.
If it were that easy you wouldn't be reading this now.
So I challenge you to become self aware and try to identify some spending triggers that may be leading you to spend more.
For example, I have identified the following triggers that when avoided at have helped me to curb my spending. Go through them and see how you can do the same
Shopping in the Morning
I am a morning person so I tend to prefer to shop in the morning when I am most fresh and in a positive mood. This helps me to stay focus and not stray and end up with a shopping cart full of gummy bears.
Think about the time of day when you're most positive and or relaxed. And try to plan your shopping excursions closer to that time.
See if it makes a difference.
Be careful where you shop
I have a confession. I love to shop. Shopping is fun. And if you like to shop as much as I do (I'm thinking you do) let's play a little game.
Think about your least favorite store. The one where you have to go to in order to get that one thing and can walk in and walk out with just that thing.
Then think about your favorite store where you go in for toilet paper and walk out with a bouncy castle.
Why is that? Well there are certain places that really get our shopping engines going.
For me I can walk into my local supermarket for a loaf of bread and walk out with a loaf of bread. No problem.
However if I go to Trader Joes for a loaf of bread I can guarantee you I am walking about with enough crap to host a party for 20 complete with giant charcuterie board.
So what do you do. Well the easy answer is to avoid those places at all costs. But I'm not going to do that to you. You can do a few things.
- Test your willpower. Next time you visit that store have a list in hand and stick to it.
- Limit your time. If you know you only got 30 minutes for example you're less likely to wander and more likely to get in and out. So for example going to Target on a lunch break (when time is limited) versus after work can be a game-changer.
- Give yourself a budget. This tends to work better with cash. Walk in with a $20 bill. And that it. Knowing that is all you have to spend will really help you make better decisions.
Going shopping with the girls is definitely a lot of fun. A little shopping, a break for brunch, more shopping, and then happy hour cocktails.
Sounds like my type of Saturday.
But it is also soo expensive.
When we shop with friends we tend to spend way more. Even if we have the best intentions it is hard to not give in to peer pressure. When you try something on for example (even if it over budget) the positive reinforcement you get from your girls about how good it looks on you it's really hard to ignore.
And that confidence boost results in you slamming down that credit card.
While you're working on curbing your spending it's always best to shop alone.
As you become better about being self aware, curbing your spending and making good shopping decisions it will be easier to resist the urge to buy those OTK hot pink boots because all your friends say they look soo good. Which they do. But we both know you're not gonna wear them so…
Set Financial Goals
A lot of people say that when you set financial goals it will give you an incentive to not buy those really cute black sandals.
I call bs… Because I am not thinking about financial goals when I am about to buy those really cute black sandals.
I am thinking about how cute they are going to look when I go to Mexico. But then remember I am not going to Mexico because guess what. I don't got Mexico money.
So while setting financial goals is super important. Especially when you're on a journey to financial freedom.
Find a goal that you can really get excited about. And yes. Being debt free is exciting. But not as exciting as a trip to Mexico. Are you following?
I have tried this and it works. Within reason. Here is an example of something that I have done that works.
I wanted to save money. Specifically $1000 for a birthday vacation. So what did I do?
For every pair of shoes, I didn't buy I would take the amount I would have spent and put it towards a vacation fund. So it was usually cute black sandals or money towards that vacation I am dying to go on. The vacation almost always won.
Think of a really enticing goal. Like saving money for a vacation, a car, or even your dream house. Then put it up against any purchase you're about to make.
You will be surprised at how this trick works (without you even realizing it).
How can I stop overspending?
Having good spending habits is the first step to curbing that overspending. And this is something that can happen over time.
Don't force yourself into a box or doing something that doesn't bring you joy. Pick one, give it a try, see how it feels and then go from there. And don't forget to start saving all that newfound money.
Before you know it you will start to build good money habits that you can live with. And I guarantee your bank account will thank you for it.
See ya on the beach!