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.
What do I mean by unnecessary?
Anything and everything that you COULD do without if you had to.
- Premium foods
- Nights out (expensive or not so)
- Car finance
- New clothes (don’t tell me you have nothing to wear)
None of these items are a waste of money full stop, it’s about how they fit into your personal circumstances right now.
Right now they are a waste of money because they aren’t in your budget, you don’t have the money to really buy them so you go into debt to get them.
That’s a waste.
Of course the same things could also be deemed as not a waste of money, if you aren’t going into debt for them and you have spare cash to spend.
The key to not spending your cash on unnecessary things is to focus on training yourself to spend less money.
Because spending money is a habit and one that can take a little effort to break.
How To Stop Spending Money On Unnecessary Things
This could also be titled ‘how to train yourself to spend less money’ because in reality that is what we are talking about.
Taking one (big) bad habit – overspending – and replacing it with a good habit – limited spending.
Training yourself to do something new can be easy or hard, depending on how motivated you are.
So you need to ask yourself this question:
Am I motivated enough to save money such that I am willing to change how I spend and what I buy?
If yes, read on.
If no, then perhaps these posts might help you
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11 Ways On How To Train Yourself To Spend Less Money
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 over-spender to savvy saver.
Your thoughts on spending and saving money are crucial to your success in training yourself to spend less money.
Devote time to your thought patterns and developing that different mindset.
Analyze & 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 be 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 time, you will develop an understanding of what is making you spend money.
You might find you are spending money because you are bored, or because you are with friends who are also spending.
Alternatively you might that your spending happens on certain days, at certain times of the month or when you are feeling a particular emotion.
Analyzing your urge to spend will help you hugely in your quest to understand how to stop spending on unnecessary things.
Understanding Needs vs Wants & Prioritizing Them
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.’
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 pounds.
Every time you are considering spending money (big or small amounts) you should ask yourself these questions:
- Do I need it?
- If I do, could I make do with something I already have?
- If I have to buy, can I get it cheaper?
Be Grateful For What You Do Have
When you are chasing the instant gratification that you get from buying new things you often ignore the things you already have.
Ignoring what you already have leads you down the path of forever chasing new things and you will be constantly spending too much money.
Taking the time to identify and acknowledge all the things you already have helps you to be positive about your situation.
It also helps you with your frugal mindset.
Be grateful for the things you do have, whether that is material things like a car, nice house, warm kitchen or more value based things.
Like being grateful for the family you have, a roof over your head and food in your belly.
Don’t Try To Be Too Frugal In Your Quest To Save Money
When you are looking at cutting back your spending on unnecessary things you often adopt a more frugal approach to your spending.
However, you can go too far and try to embrace frugality the wrong way which often ends up with you spending too much money.
If you are going to try to be frugal then you should stay away from making the mistakes many others make.
Like jumping in feet first and expecting an immediate difference.
Take you time to work out how you are going to save money. Don’t expect to make large savings immediately.
Start small, practice the art of saving and build upon each success.
Don’t Get 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, get busy doing something.
One way you can stop yourself from being bored is to introduce new physical activities into your life.
I’m not talking about taking out a gym membership or training to run a marathon. Exercise takes many forms and it doesn’t need to cost.
Doing something physical isn’t just about getting exercise either.
Do the housework and get a sweat on. Dig over your garden and plant some flowers or vegetables. Sweep your backyard.
These physical activities are worth doing in their own right without the added benefit of exercise.
You are making your home better through keeping it tidy and well kept.
And keeping busy physically gives you that feel good factor after you have finished.
All those little endorphins running around giving you a mini high – without spending money.
You’re human, you enjoy spending money even if it has caused you debt and problems.
Training yourself to spend less money has to have some form of reward otherwise you are not vested in doing it long term.
Your rewards can be anything that mean something to you, however they do need to cost little.
Otherwise they negate this whole process.
No point you learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary things if your reward for being good is to spend money on something that is unnecessary!
For instance, my ‘reward’ for sticking to a (boring) diet when I was also broke was to buy myself one can of Diet Coke.
Real Coca Cola (not store’s own brand) tastes the best out of a can but I didn’t usually buy real Diet Coke, full stop.
Not in my budget, too expensive.
So a can of real Diet Coke was a treat.
Your reward could something as simple as a can of Coke or it could be a bottle of wine or a countryside walk or a daytime trip to the movies (cheaper than night time!).
You choose whatever is going to work for you. To keep you on track to master your overspending.
Related reading: How To Stop Lifestyle Creep And Keep More Of Your Money
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.
Do yourself a favor, don’t window shop, not even online (definitely not online).
Do something else instead.
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.
Remove Temptation From Your Path
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
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.
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 points and rewards when you do spend on them 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.
How To Stop Spending Money For 30 Days
When you are focused not 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?
How To Stop Spending Money On Unnecessary Things – 7 Tactics To Save Money Instead
You can go further than just cutting out wasteful spending. You can focus on ways to save money too.
These 9 tips are a taster of ways to save money. For more ways check out these posts:
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.
3. Use Cash
Cash is great for getting back to the basics. After all, once you have spent it you can’t spend it a second time.
Unlike credit cards that allow you to keep spending until you have maxed them out – ouch!
Use cash for everything you would normally buy using your credit or debit cards.
Tip – don’t draw out a months worth of cash in one go, you’re going to be sorely tempted in the first week or so to spend too much.
4. 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.
5. Learn To Meal Plan And Stick To It
Meal planning done right can save you a serious amount of money.
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.
For help in taking back control of your grocery spending why not sign up for my FREE 7 day Grocery BUdget Challenge?
6. 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.
7. Don’t Eat Out – Cook At Home
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.
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 using 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.
For help in making your spending more deliberate and understanding how being frugal can help you, why not sign up for my FREE 5 day Frugal Foundations Framework?