How To Stop Spending Money On Unnecessary Things You Don’t Need

When you need to start saving money, your first step should be to look at how to stop spending money on unnecessary things.

Because the unnecessary things are where your best savings are going to be, they’re not essential, you don’t need to buy them, you can use the money on something else instead.

What do I mean by spending money unnecessarily?

Anything that wasn’t part of your budget or is an impulse purchase: you see it, fall in love with it, want it and buy it.

Often things things that aren’t essential are those that you buy to save yourself time, or so you think! Here are a few examples of unnecessary things you might be buying.

Buying lunch at work rather than making your own – saves you 10 minutes on your morning routine but you can waste that queuing to grab a sandwich.

Buying coffee on your way to work rather than brewing your own and taking it with you – 5 minutes saved at home, 10 minutes spent waiting for your coffee to go.

Picking up dinner at the grocery store on your way home from work – no time to cook but it takes you 20 minutes to get in and out of the store.

Sometimes we make life harder for ourselves, thinking we’re making it easier.

We spend money we don’t have, to save time that we do have. Go figure!

And the result is our budgets don’t work and we start each month looking at how we can stop stressing and start saving money, again.

The key to not spending your cash on unnecessary stuff is to know what is and isn’t essential for you, understand your spending habits and make the changes that are going to work for you.

What Should you stop wasting money on?

In general things to stop spending money on are unnecessary items you could do without if you didn’t buy them.
Spending money you don’t have on unimportant things can mean you have no money for the essentials you do need.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read more here)

Why are you overspending?

We humans are very good at fooling ourselves, because we don’t always want to hear the truth. When it comes to you spending money you don’t have, you know when you are.

Maybe not that day but when the time comes to pay your credit card, and you can’t, then you know you are over spending.

It’s very easy to think I can’t save money and therefore continue as you have always done.

Most of the time your overspending is because of habit. It’s a habit to pick up a coffee on your way to work or lunch from your favorite deli cafe round the corner.

Picking up something for dinner on your way home is such an ingrained habit you hardly think about it. Here are 4 ways you know when you are overspending.

1. You use Your Credit Cards to get through the month

I see so many people saying how credit cards are great, they help you increase your credit score (true) and you can earn rewards and cashback using them (also true).

What is less talked about is how you get used to using your credit cards until you are relying on them to see you through to the end of the month, because you don’t know how to control spending.

If you cannot pay off your credit cards in full each month then I wouldn’t be calling them credit anymore. They are a debt card because that is exactly what you are carrying – debt.

If this is you then you are overspending because your credit card doesn’t feel like real money. Try using cash instead as a way to control your spending.

You need to stop worrying now about others and what they do, and focus on what is right for you and your finances.

2. You Can’t fit anything in your cupboards

It’s one thing to buy the latest fashion or gadget, but if you can’t even fit it into your cupboards then you’ve got a spending problem and need to focus on how to stop spending money on clothes.

Buying things you want rather than things you need are how our houses end up full of stuff. If this is you then you might want to try taking on a no spend challenge to help you break this habit.

3. You’re an Emotional spender

How many times have you bought something to make yourself feel better? Whether it’s a chocolate bar or a new top, the principle is the same, you are shopping because of your emotions.

Have you ever gone clothes shopping with the mindset that you feel overweight and are trying to make yourself feel better with something new? Only to find everything makes you feel even bigger?

Yep, me too, so many times.

Our emotions can make us do all sorts of things so when you are sad, bad or mad, don’t go shopping or open up your laptop, you are asking for trouble!

4. can’t resist a bargain

This is me. I am much better than I was, but I can still get sucked into fear of missing out on a bargain.

For the past year I haven’t actually visited many stores (thank you pandemic) so I may well have finally broken this habit of wasting money.

When I go shopping now I am trying to get in and out as quickly as possible and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Bargains are only true bargains if you were intending to buy the item at full price prior to seeing the ‘bargain’ price. But the stores marketing techniques play on our fear of missing out.

womans rm in black top holding black gift bag to signify how to stop spending money on unnecessary things
How to stop spending money on unnecessary things

10 tips for how to stop spending money on unnecessary things

1. Set financial goals

I am a great believer in goals. Short term goals, life goals and long term financial goals, life goals. Your goals are what you want to achieve now, next year or further down the line.

Maybe you want to be debt free, to give up your job, to have an exotic holiday?

One of my first big goals was to be mortgage free. It took us 10 years so not a short term goal. Knowing that every penny I overspent meant it was going to take us longer to be mortgage free was very motivating to not spend.

Having real, tangible goals helps you focus on not spending money you don’t have and instead increase your savings.

Keep them real and at the forefront of your mind. Your goals will help you to stop spending money you don’t have.

2. Develop A Frugal Mindset

How you view your money situation determines how successful you will be in saving money or spending money.

When you think you deserve to buy yourself treats on a very regular basis then that thinking can get you into trouble.

I’m sorry to say that just because you work hard doesn’t mean you deserve to spend too much. Let me put it in a nicer way:

You do not deserve to be in debt and struggling with money

No-one deserves that. A frugal mindset will help you change your thought processes from one of reckless spending to savvy saver.

Your thoughts on spending and saving money are crucial to your success in training yourself to control spending and spend less. When you learn how to stop stressing about money, you end up spending less. Devote time to your thought patterns and developing that different mindset.

3. Replace Your Need For Instant Gratification

Very often, the reason you buy something is not because your life will be awful without it, but because you (at a subconscious level) are wanting the buzz of buying something new.

We all get a buzz out of buying something new to us (even if it’s actually secondhand).

But buying too often can lead you to almost become addicted to the little rush you get when you get your hands on that new thing. Even if it is just a super nice sandwich from the little cafe round the corner!

By analyzing when you get the urge to spend and how you are feeling at that point in time, you will develop an understanding of what is making you spend money.

You might find you are spending all your money because you are bored, or because you are with friends who are also spending.

Alternatively you might find that your spending happens on certain days, at certain times of the month or when you are feeling a particular emotion. I used to spend money to stop anxiety about my overspending!

Analyzing your urge to spend will help you hugely in your quest to understand how to stop spending on unnecessary things.

Replace the buzz you get from spending money with not spending money.

Create a buzz when you get to the end of your day and can say to yourself “I stopped spending money today, in fact I didn’t spend anything at all”. On a daily basis you can win at this by thinking about the things to stop spending money on.

Quite often the things to stop spending money on are those associated with going to work.

Things like:

  • Coffee to go
  • Lunch out
  • Snacks
  • Something to read on your journey

Plan ahead for your work day so you are know how to resist spending money on these things. Pack your lunch and snacks, make and take your own coffee to work.

Related post: How To Love Living Within Your Means Every Day

purple flowers cascading out of white window boxes on window sills with white wooden shutters to signify how to stop spending money on unnecessary things
Take back the enjoyment of not spending money

4. Hide Your Credit Cards

If you are in a money crisis then you could go to the extreme of cutting up your credit cards. But on the less extreme side is to leave your credit cards at home when you are out and about.

If you don’t have them with you, you cannot use them to spend money on something that is not necessary.

If it helps, hide them somewhere you don’t go to very often or get your partner to hide them for you if you think you might go grab them in a weak moment.

Unless you pay off your credit card in full it’s not a credit card. It’s a debt card because you are carrying a debt on it.

Stick to either your debit card or utilize the cash envelope system. I find it much harder to part with my cash than whip out my credit card. Cash feels so much more real.

5. Be savvy about How you shop

When you are on a mission to learn how to stop spending money on unnecessary things it can be all too easy to think you’ll just stop spending money, completely.

Anything more than a week of doing an unplanned no spend challenge and the cracks start to appear.

Shopping doesn’t need to be banned when you are looking to stop spending money you don’t have. You just need to be more savvy with how you spend and where you do it.

Firstly, always try and gain a discount or cashback from your shopping (not credit card cashback though!).

You can save money on your usual shopping by using cash back sites including:

  • Dosh
  • Ibotta,
  • Drop,
  • ShopKick,
  • Quidco and
  • TopCashBack

You can also earn cash back or points (toward cash back) by scanning receipts through Dosh, Ibotta, Shopkick and Fetch.

Check online for any discount codes, I’ve been known to stand in a queue and check the store’s website for coupons while I wait.

And of course you have nothing to lose by asking for a discount. Paying cash can help get a discount as the retailer is not losing 1-3% in card fees on the transaction.

I also leave my purse at home unless I am on a planned shopping trip, this tip helps you to control your spending. I have an emergency £20 note inside my phone case as my money comfort blanket, but I rarely use it.

6. Avoid Shopping for leisure

You might think that window shopping is a way to save money. It’s not, I promise. There is too much temptation with window shopping, you get sucked in to that day’s special deal.

You fall in love with the last remaining widget on the shelf. Something invariably happens when you are window shopping which turns it into a spending spree.

Too often you end up thinking “I wasted my money on that”, just when you thought you were building some better spending habits.

Do yourself a favor, don’t window shop, not even online (definitely not online). Do something else instead.

womans hand holding a credit card with multiple multi colored shopping bags over her arm
Don’t let credit cards stop you from knowing how to stop spending money on useless things

7. unsubscribe from temptation

We all spend a lot of time on our phones and laptops and keep in touch with family, friends and our favorite stores through them.

Great if it’s family and friends, not so great with your favorite stores when you want to stop spending money. Because they WANT you to spend money, that is their mission.

So they send seductive emails to you, daily, telling you about the last sale, the last chance to buy something at a discounted price.

You are human and quitting spending money is hard so you do not need all these emails encouraging you to spend. Unsubscribe yourself from all your favorite stores, and I mean all.

If you are planning to spend money in a specific store you can check their website and see what deals they are offering at that point.

Related reading: How To Stop Shopping: 9 Tips For Success

8. Things to stop spending money on: needs and wants

I am convinced you know about the whole wants vs needs conversation but to quickly recap.

You need to know the difference between the two and should be focusing your spending on your needs, not your wants. Especially when you saying to yourself ‘I can’t stop spending my money.’

The things to stop spending money on are your wants as needs are needs and need to be bought. It’s easy to think that you need many things but the reality is you don’t.

You might need a car but you don’t need a new one, you only need one that gets you from A to B.

The difference in cost between wanting a new car and buying the car you need can mount to tens of thousands of dollars.

Every time you are considering spending money (big or small amounts) you should ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I need it?
  2. If I do, could I make do with something I already have?
  3. If I have to buy, can I get it cheaper?

Related reading:

23 Reasons You Are Stuck Being Broke And How To Fix It

Emergency Fund Examples: 23 (Unexpected) Reasons Why You Need One

woman looking worried at shelf prices in supermarket to signify how to stop spending money on unnecessary things
You can save money on groceries by cutting back

9. reduce spending on food

Spending money on food is one of the biggest chunks of our budget, but it doesn’t need to be. There are so many ways you can learn how to stop spending money on food so here are a few spending tips that will cut your grocery bill down.

Shop Less Often

Limit yourself to shopping at most once a week and see if you can go longer. Some people aim for once every 9 or 10 days. They get a week ‘free’ each month by doing this.

Use What You Have

You’ve already spent your hard earned money on the food in your fridge, freezer and cupboards. These are the places to start with when you are thinking about meals for next week.

Create a meal plan around what you already have and you won’t have to buy so much at the store. Meal planning is a great way to reduce your grocery bill and ensure you don’t waste any food.

Some people aren’t keen on meal planning on the basis that they don’t always ‘feel’ like eating the planned meal. You can deal with those thoughts 2 ways.

  1. Focus on the premise that food is fuel, ignore what you feel like having and have the planned meal.
  2. Stick to the weekly meal plan but switch up the days and have a meal planned for another day.

If meal planning is something you have never done or it feels a little overwhelming right now then the $5 meal plan is your savior.

For just $5 a month you not only get a weekly meal plan, you get a grocery list of all the ingredients you will need to make those meals, plus the recipe instructions.

No stress about planning meals and you save money by not wasting food and not eating out multiple times a week.

Use the 14 day FREE trial to prove it works for you.

Utilize your freezer

Plan on using your freezer to make meals you can pull out and finish off in double quick time. Freezer meals help you stick to your meal plan because there is little prep time on your return from work.

Myfreezeasy is a personalized freezer meal plan to suit your time, tastes and budget. All the meal plans come with videos, shopping lists and simple to follow directions to get your bulk meal prep done in no time at all.

You can try Myfreezeasy for free when you join the Freezer Cooking 101 Workshop. You get a sample freezer meal plan for free so you can try before you buy.

Forget Bottled Water

There is really no need to buy water to drink in the western world. Our water is almost always safe to drink. If you can honestly say your tap water tastes foul then invest in a water filter jug.

Here are more posts that will help you in your quest to stop spending money on food:

How Much Should I Spend on Groceries Each Month?

70+ Best Ways To Save Money On Groceries

calendar with coloured pins in it alongside a blue alarm clock and piles of coins
Use your time to do things other than spending money

10. stop the stress of spending by never being bored

You know where I am going with this one don’t you? How many times have you decided to go shopping or to the mall on a whim because you were bored?

See? I know you. Because I know myself too. We all do it. We spend when we are bored because we can’t think of anything else to do.

But there are so many productive things to do without spending money. You could:

  • Organize your finances (I know it might be boring but it is worthwhile)
  • Bake some cookies (much more fun)
  • Start a new hobby (interesting and fun?)
  • Research something (educational)

The point is, if you are bored and want to avoid spending money, get busy doing something else.

loose wad of sterling notes of different denominations to signify how to stop spending money on unnecessary things
Save money don’t spend money

Top 5 things to stop Spending so much money on

You’ve now got tactics to help you stop spending money on unnecessary things but what things should you stop spending money on?

There are plenty of things you can stop buying, namely anything that takes you over budget should not be bought.

To get you started and to keep things really simple here are 5 things I suggest you can stop spending money on right now.

1. stop spending money on fast food and restaurants

Eating out costs significantly more than making your own meal at home. If you need to save money, this should be an area you really focus on and cut back on.

Cutting back or at least reducing the number of times you eat out each month can save you hundreds as it can be the biggest chunk of your food bill.

2. food waste

Apparently we can waste up to 30% of the food we buy. If your monthly grocery budget is $300, that’s $100 straight into the bin.

Make a real effort to use all the food you buy and learn how to reduce food waste. Think of your leftover meals as free meals. Leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day. Limp veggies can be turned into a hearty soup and fruit can become smoothies.

3. clothing & accessories

Clothes do not wear out very quickly. In fact you are more likely to get bored of your clothes before they wear or tear.

See how not to spend money regularly on buying new clothes by trying a 3 month new clothes ban and see how much you can save. Many people who start with a 3 month ban find themselves stretching it to 6 months and beyond.

Because you get out of the habit of buying new clothes and no longer think about whether you ‘need’ something new. If you usually spend $50 a month and you buy nothing new for 6 months that’s $300 saved.

4. expensive coffee

As a true British tea drinker the idea of buying tea regularly from a coffee shop just doesn’t make money sense. I’d be paying £2 for one teabag when I can buy 80 for £1.

And the same goes for all you coffee drinkers, you are paying a huge mark up on your coffee grounds. What can you do to stop spending money on coffee? Invest in a hot drinks flask and make yours before you leave home.

If you usually buy more than one coffee a day you could make a bigger flask and take it with you or if you have a kettle at work, take you own coffee, milk and sugar and refill at work.

Spending $3 a day adds up to more than $90 a month, for just one coffee a day. That’s over $1,000 a year.

2 coffees a day and it’s over $2,000 a year. That’s why you see so many people like me suggesting you give up your coffee take out habit if you want to save money.

5. credit card interest

Credit card interest can easily cost you 20% or more. That’s a huge hit for the privilege of owing your card company money. Your money is better spent being used elsewhere in your budget.

If you haven’t already created a goal to pay off your credit cards, do so now. Make it a priority. Don’t use your cards, leave them at home until those debts are repaid.

Once you’ve cleared them vow to yourself you will only use them as much as you can pay off the balance in full every month.

That way you can earn the rewards and cash back your credit cards off but you are not 20% for the privilege.

woman with shopping bags over her shoulder looking through store window with sale sign on it to signify how to stop spending money on unnecessary things
How to stop spending money on unnecessary things including clothes

How To Stop Spending Money On Clothes

200 years ago you might have had your Sunday best dress and a day dress, two if you were lucky. Now, you might have 200 pieces of clothing, easily.

If spending money on clothes is your problem then you are going to need to focus on 4 of the above ideas.

Follow these for How to stop spending money on clothes

1. Remove the temptation – make sure you unsubscribe from every clothing store immediately.

2. Avoid the stores – do NOT go to the mall or window shopping. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you could fail. Be nice to yourself, don’t do it.

3. Hide your credit cards – or at least always leave them at home.

I know you can earn points and rewards when you use credit cards but right now you need to go back to basics and retrain your thoughts.

Using cash envelopes can help with this. So you could budget $50 for clothes for the money, but you can only use the cash that you put in that envelope.

4. Don’t get bored – you shop when you are bored, you buy clothes when you are bored or when you are trying to make yourself feel better.

Get busy doing something else. Give yourself a very long to do list that must be completed every day off and weekend and ensure none of the tasks involve going near a shop.

woman's hands counting out money from an open red purse
How to stop spending money on unnecessary things for 30 days

How To Stop Spending Money For 30 Days

When you are focused on not spending money on unnecessary things, I am not sure having a total spending ban for 30 days is a good thing. I mean it’s great if you can manage it, but perhaps it’s a step too far to start with?

However, if using the 30 day rule is your plan then lets look at how you can achieve it. (I am presuming that you are going to still be spending some money on essentials, like necessary groceries and fuel.)

Not spending any unnecessary money for 30 days is going to involve the following 4 steps as a minimum:

1.Don’t get bored – if you are so busy doing then you won’t have time to think about the fact you haven’t spent any money.

Keep yourself busy every minute of the day and you will find your 30 day ban is over and done with quite quickly.

2. Limit screen time – the longer you are on your phone and laptop the more likely you are to stumble across something that suddenly you realize you must buy, like there and then. Avoid the temptation.

3. Get busy being physical – get those endorphins working for you.

The more physical work you do, whether it’s exercise for exercise’s sake or active work around the home, the more of those feel good endorphins you will release.

Endorphins make you feel good, they make you feel like you can achieve anything, including plan to stop spending money for 30 days.

4. Leave your credit cards at home – whenever you go out, whether that’s to work, for a walk or to see friends. If you don’t have them on you, you cannot use them to spend money. Very simple isn’t it?

open glass jar with white lid and dollar bills in it and spilling out to signify how to stop spending money on unnecessary things
Stop spending money you don’t have and save money

How To Stop Spending Money On Unnecessary Things – 5 Tactics To stop the fear and Save Money Instead

You can go further than just cutting out wasteful spending. You can focus on ways to save money too.

These 5 tips are a taster of ways to save money. For more ways check out these posts:

How To Cut Monthly Expenses: 35 Ways To Save Money

45 Creative Ways To Save Money (You Need To Know)

1. Buy Generic

Generic brands, whether that’s food or medicine or clothing, is vastly cheaper than branded and premium branded goods.

You can save up to 300% or more on everything when you drop down to the generic brand or even the store’s own value brand.

I buy value brand a lot, I’ve tried premium brands, generic brands and the value brands and I decide on which provides the best value overall for us on each item.

When you are testing the different brand options consider these two question:

  1. Is the different taste actually BETTER or just DIFFERENT? and,
  2. If the taste is better, is it better enough to justify the increased cost?

I have no doubt that your favorite branded products taste different, the question you must answer for yourself is whether that difference is worth the much increased cost.

2. Pay Yourself First

When you are starting to save money, it’s so much easier if you do it as soon as you are paid. Set up an regular automated payment as soon as you get paid.

Then you have no temptation to spend this money that you wanted to save as it is no longer in your account. Pay yourself first is about paying your future self so it is super important you prioritize you.

coins and bank notes on white background to signify how to stop spending money on unnecessary things
DIY can save you money

3. Learn To DIY

Being able to fix things around your home instead of paying for workmen is a fantastic way to not only save money but also increase your skillset. The more you learn the more you can do for yourself.

4. Meal plan from your pantry

Meal planning done right can help you to stop spending money you don’t have. Start in your pantry and base your meals around the food you have already bought.

Using your existing supplies as the starting point will help you reduce your food waste and your grocery bill.

You will always know what meals you are having and that knowledge stops you from resorting to eating out or going to the drive thru.

5. Sell Your Unused Stuff

Going through your stuff and throwing out what you don’t use is a great way to be productive and not spend money. A bonus to doing this is to make money from the things you no longer want.

FaceBook Marketplace is a great place to get rid of things for free but there are many other ways including Gumtree and Ebay.

small pile of dollar bills with a white flower on top to signify how to stop spending money on unnecessary things
Stop spending money on unnecessary stuff and save your money

How To Stop Spending Money on Unnecessary Things

As you can see much of the process of learning about how to stop spending money on unnecessary things is about training yourself to use different tactics to replace the unthinking spending of money to one of conscious spending.

It’s about being deliberate with your money, making a plan for it and ensuring you are getting best value for your spending.

Start taking back control of your money by grabbing your copy of the Money Saving Starter Guide today.


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Last Updated on 4th December 2021 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

2 thoughts on “How To Stop Spending Money On Unnecessary Things You Don’t Need”

  1. I was never a coffee drinker but I did consume a lot of Diet Mountain Dew. I kept a small college dorm room type fridge in my office that had nothing but cans of Dew that I bought bulk and that kept me from shelling out 75 cents at the vending machines.

    • Hi Steveark! If you’re going to drink it you might as well buy it as cheap as possible. Vending machines are the worst place for buying something to eat or drink so I like your thinking 🙂


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