Overspending is completely normal for many people, no soul searching or even thinking needed to swipe your credit card. And that’s why learning how to stop spending money needs you to be different.
Our overspending can be many little things like a sandwich to much bigger purchases, like a car.
Credit is too easily available with credit cards, overdrafts and loans all thrown at us. You are bombarded with adverts that say you ‘deserve’ to have it all now.
Of course you deserve some things now, but what about later? What do you deserve then?
Do you deserve debt hanging around your neck?
Do you deserve to be chased by the bank for their money?
Do you deserve to be worried about money and whether you can ever afford to retire?
The problem with spending money
The problem with overspending is that it is so easy to do! You can spend with one click of your computer, one swipe of your credit card and even one tap of your phone.
With spending money that easy to do, it’s no wonder many of us spend more money than we realize. Only to get a nasty shock when the credit card bill arrives.
An added problem too many of us have is that we get a buzz out of buying something new. That buzz doesn’t last long enough though, so we have to spend again to get another buzz.
We can get addicted to spending money for the feel good factor, which makes it that much harder when you are on a mission to learn how to stop spending money.
What makes you overspend
The fast pace of life now increases the pressure on you to spend. Our friends, co-workers and families all want to enjoy great times together and the pressure is on to spend money to create those good times.
Good times don’t have to cost money but money makes it very easy to create them quickly, without planning and creative thought.
If you are looking for a quick answer to “how do I stop bad spending habits?” then the first thing you should do is stop visiting your favorite shops.
We all have a few favorite stores, they’re the ones that if you pop into you know, without fail, you will come out having spent money.
- Because you always do.
- Because you love their products.
- You love how the store makes you feel when you are there.
How to stop spending money in your favorite stores? Resist the urge and the pleasure of going inside. Walk away.
Habits are easy to form but harder to break. When I was younger I got into the habit of buying my breakfast every day.
You might think there’s nothing wrong with that, and there isn’t, if I had enough money.
But I didn’t, my daughter had 3 sets of clothes, I struggled to pay my bills, I needed to stop spending money on food I could not afford.
But breaking my breakfast habit was HARD! What was I supposed to replace it with? The choice was make my own breakfast to take to work or go without.
The consequences of not being able to pay my bills forced me to focus on breaking that habit.
With habits, it helps to create new habits to replace old, bad ones. For me, I created a new habit of making my breakfast (and lunch) to take to work.
Related post: 9 Great Money Habits To Transform Your Finances
Similar to habits you can build your life around a series of routines. Good routines make your life run more smoothly but the wrong routines can cost you a lot of money.
Picking up a take away on the way home, easy to do, harder to break. Because you’d have to start cooking when you got home instead.
Going out for lunch with colleagues, a very nice routine but again, when you are looking to stop spending money you don’t have, those lunches need to go.
You don’t need to turn down every lunch invite, reduce how often you eat out and see how much money you will save.
The people around you can act as a big influence on how you spend money. But it’s not just people; where you live, what is available in your local area can also impact on your money decisions.
Where we lived previously there was a store a 3 minute walk from us. Guess how many times we popped to that store in the evening for a snack?
We now live in a tiny village with no stores, pub or public transport. Popping out for a takeaway or to the shops is not popping out!
It’s a minimum 45 minute round trip by car. Guess how many times we now pop out in the evening because we fancy a snack?
Moving house might be a little extreme but understand how your environment can affect how you spend.
Fear of missing out
When everyone around you seems to be enjoying their life and spending money without any (seen) debt or consequences, it is very easy to get into a cycle of thinking that you should be having the same as them.
You fear you are missing out on something so dive in to try and be the same as everyone else. And you might well be because I bet the people you see have also got debt.
But even if they haven’t, you should not be living your life and spending money according to what you think others are doing. It’s your money, your life.
Your personal stop spending money challenge
Reset your spending habits with a no spending money challenge to give yourself a fresh start.
Not spending money on anything might be a little difficult to achieve these days, bills have to paid, automatic payments leave your account.
But you don’t need to buy clothes, eat out, see a movie, meet friends for coffee.
Are you worried you not how you can stop spending money for 30 days? Treat it as your personal challenge. Create some form of reward or goal you will receive once you have achieved it.
Consider it a spending detox, after which you will feel like a new you when it comes to your money.
Keep track of your challenge
One thing that I always find useful during a no spend challenge is to promise myself that I will write down everything I do spend, on a spending tracker.
Some things still have to be bought, like basic food items. List everything you buy.
You could go further and scrutinize your grocery receipt to see if there were any ‘unnecessary’ things on it. Recording this level of detail does two things.
- It makes you think twice about buying anything, because you know you’ve got to record it.
- Ir provides you with evidence of your spending patterns and where your weaknesses lie.
how to stop spending money – 12 tips
1. Budget according to your rules
There are many different ways to budget and many people telling you what you should and should not pay for.
For example, almost every article I read says you should cancel cable if you want to save money. I’m a savvy saver but we’ve always had cable. Cable is our main entertainment because we don’t often go out (a great way to save money).
We save money in other ways too:
- Our TV is 12 years old
- We have sim only phone plans
- And we don’t have a dryer.
‘How can I live on less money?’ Your budget will help you answer this question.
Your budget is very individual, it only works for you, not anyone else. It will help you save money and understand how much money you have to spend.
For help in creating a budget head over to my post on How To Budget Your Money When You Don’t Know How.
2. create money goals
Money goals are an essential part of creating your budget and learning how to stop spending money you don’t have.
Having clearly defined goals on what you want to achieve in life and with your money help you to set your budget so you can achieve those goals.
If you are desperate to buy your first home, or trade up, then you need a large chunk of money. That’s your financial goal. How much do you want to save and by when?
If you have debt, getting it paid off is another goal.
As part of your budget determine how much you are going to set aside for your money goals and plan out the rest of your spending around those goals.
3. Have Fun money
Getting stricter and more focused with your spending does not mean all your luxuries and fun spending have to stop. If all your money goes on serious spending like bills, debt, saving for your future then you are going to start itching to spend very quickly.
You want the feel good factor of buying something you really want. Fun money as I call it, is money you allocate in your budget to spending on whatever you want, guilt free.
It doesn’t have to be much, if you’ve got debt to pay off, it’s sensible to keep the amount small. But it must be guilt free.
When hubby and I were throwing every spare penny at our mortgage, and living on low wages, we still had fun money. £50 a month might not seem much, but you bet we made that money stretch as far as it could go.
4. Go cash only
It’s all too easy to buy everything on your credit card with the thought that you are earning points/cash back/air miles so it’s a sensible way to spend.
And it is, as long as you can pay your credit cards off in full, every month.
For everyone else, using cash makes much more sense. You can’t spend what you haven’t got with cash.
And don’t kid yourself that you’ll take your credit cards with you, for emergencies only, if you know you could whip them out if you see a ‘bargain’.
Using the cash envelope system is an extremely effective way to train yourself to stop spending money.
It’s something I did for a long time when we were living on one income and I still go back to it every year as a way to re-train and reset my spending habits.
5. reward yourself
Achieving goals deserves a reward. Rewards don’t need to be expensive or huge. Achieving your goal is reward enough but a small celebration makes that achievement into a big deal. And quite rightly so!
When hubby and I paid off our mortgage 10 years early (on moderate incomes) you bet we celebrated.
What we didn’t do was spend hundreds on our ‘reward’ because becoming mortgage free was reward enough.
We had bubbles, but they weren’t £30 Champagne bubbles, they were £6 Prosecco bubbles. And tasted just as wonderful too!
Reward yourself for your achievements, make them special without the expense.
6. track your budget
Have you ever got your credit card bill and been shocked at how many transactions there are? Never mind how much the total is.
When you track your spending, your credit card bills and bank statements are not a shock, because you are keeping a daily record of your spending so you already know exactly what you’ve spent and how often you’ve done it.
You can use a budgeting app, a spreadsheet or a notebook to record all your spending. The key thing is to do it very regularly.
Pro tip – if you draw out cash and then spend it, record the cash you have withdrawn. As i can guarantee you will not be able to track every cent of the withdrawn cash. I’ve tried to do it for
20 years and not succeeded on a regular basis.
7. Get unsubscribed
Temptations to spend come in many forms but one of the worst, for me, is emails.
You sign up to your favorite stores and then they send you all manner of tempting discounts, new line suggestions, all designed to part you from your money. And lots of it.
With your budget, you are being more deliberate with your money so if you have allocated some money to spend on clothes, you don’t need an email from your favorite store to help you spend it.
Unsubscribe from all the stores’ emails.
Pro tip – also wipe your details from your browser’s auto-fill feature. Auto-fill makes it too easy to buy something with just a click or two. Wipe your credit card details online.
8. don’t think of shopping as fun
Going shopping has turned into a leisure activity for many people with weekly or monthly visits to huge malls and shopping centers taking up an entire day of driving, queuing and browsing.
With all that time spent on shopping, spending just $20 would seem almost silly, $20 for a whole day? So you end up spending much more than you planned and than you’ve got.
Spending money as a leisure activity is a bad habit you will want to break.
The easiest way is to stop thinking of shopping as a) a treat and b) something to do when you’re bored. If you are bored, find something else to do.
9. give up on getting debt
Debt is you spending money you haven’t got. Then you have to pay interest on that debt from the money you have got. Stop!
Promise yourself that you will stop spending money you haven’t got and getting into debt. Go a step further and promise yourself that you will pay off your debt and never have debt again.
(Unless it’s to buy a house because, who can buy a house for cash these days?)
10. don’t emotionally shop
Emotional spending is the worst. You spend money you don’t have to make yourself feel better about the money you don’t have. Only to end up with debt because you went and spent money.
Or, you’re super tired and super stressed but planned to go to the grocery store so you do it anyway. Bad mistake.
Your mind is not working at it’s best and you make some bad decisions about what you buy and how much. Which makes you feel worse later.
Recognize when you are not in the right place mentally and stay away from the stores and from online shopping.
11. Make your own food
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 the average American household spent approximately $3,000 a year eating out. That’s $250, 5 years ago so could easily be $300 in 2021.
You want to know how to stop spending money on food? Don’t eat out, or at least cut back significantly.
A good friend of mine lives in Colorado and is pretty frugal like me. I was amazed when she told me that many of her friends eat out 3 times a week!
We have takeout less than once a month and a meal out is rarer than that. Making your own meals at home really can save you a ton of money, especially when you meal plan.
To make eating at home a success for you and your money check out these meal planning strategies and choose the one that works best for your lifestyle.
12. sleep on spending decisions
It’s all too easy to go shopping for one thing and come home with much more. You see something, you convince yourself you totally need it and so you buy it.
Yet you didn’t need it before you left the house, otherwise it would have been on your shopping list. Try factoring in some delay.
You could go as far as deciding to use the 30 day rule for everything. Or perhaps just for bigger ticket items, that cost more than $100 or so. Or you could go with 72 hours to 1 week of delaying your purchase.
The whole point of sleeping on the buying decision is to see if it really is a buying decision and not just an impulse spending decision.
Things to stop spending money on
The tips above focus on how to stop spending money. Let’s spend a couple of minutes looking at some of the unnecessary things you can stop over spending on.
These are just a few key things but not buying them will help you with your spending habits and of course they’ll save you money.
As a cable lover myself I am not saying you should get rid of cable. But do you need the full package, movies, sports and kids channels along with Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Britbox and Hula?
If you had to suddenly and drastically cut your expenses, then some of these services would go.
Look at the cost of all your TV services and decide on how much you actually want to spend, given you are looking for things to stop spending money on.
Maybe cable is enough. Maybe getting rid of cable but keeping Netflix will work.
Water is free out of your tap/faucet, why would you spend $1 on a bottle every time you are out? Invest in a reusable water bottle and fill it up before you go out. You’ll also be helping the environment with less plastic bottles so it’s a double win.
The cost of cutting your hair can vary from zero to expensive and everywhere in between. If you’re not ready to cut your own hair (yes, I do!) then you can still save money:
- Lengthen the time between haircuts
- Opt for a cheaper style or forgo the wash
- Use a mobile hairdresser (they’re cheaper as they aren’t paying for a chair or salon)
- Use a student school as you can get a cut for as little as $5
Under used subscriptions
Are they things you are subscribed to on a monthly basis that, in all honesty, you are not really making best use of?
So you go to the gym you pay for enough to make it work the monthly payment? Do you actually order from Amazon enough to make Prime worth it?
We haven’t had Prime for a long time because almost everything we buy is from MarketPlace sellers not Amazon itself. Prime doesn’t give us free postage on MarketPlace items so we don’t have it.
Dryer sheets make your clothes smell nice but their cost quickly adds up. Invest in these dryer balls and you can forget about buying dryer sheets every month. They’re more environmentally friendly too.
Some people seem to get through a roll of kitchen paper towel in record time, my brother certainly does.
Paper towels don’t cost much but over the course of a year the money can be significant, especially where you are trying to pinch every penny. Treat yourself to these colorful microfiber cloths and ditch paper forever.
If you are on a low income and are planning a family, do your research on reusable/cloth versus disposable diapers/nappies.
There is a huge environmental cost with disposable diapers (think diaper mountain) and they cost much more too. Especially if you have more than one child.
Reusable diapers/nappies require an upfront bulk cost and a little more effort due to washing them regularly. But the savings can be significant as shown by this article in The Bump.
Eating at home will save you a heap of money compared to eating out. But the price of groceries and people’s grocery budgets can still vary enormously.
To make the best use of your limited funds, you will want to focus on cheap but healthy foods and opt for simpler recipes, ones that don’t require 20 different ingredients (my idea of a kitchen nightmare!)
My post on the best cheap foods to buy when you’re broke gives you 55 staples to focus your spending on.
How to stop spending money on clothes? Have a new clothing ban. Your clothes do not wear out very quickly, if at all! Fashions change, you fancy a change, so you buy new clothes. Nothing wrong with that.
But if you want to stop spending money you don’t have then start with a new clothes ban.
If you spend just $50 a month (and many people spend much more) on clothes and have a ban on new clothes for 6 months, you’ll have saved $300. Stretch that to a year and it jumps to $600.
Many people like using fabric softener for the smell they leave on their clothes. And then they use perfume or aftershave? Confused?
If you’re using a dryer (with wool dryer balls) to dry your clothes, you don’t need fabric softener. If you line dry your clothes they come in smelling of fresh air so you don’t need fabric softener.
Many people will say you need softener for line dried clothes because they can be less soft being dried outside, especially towels.
All I’ll say is that I’ve never needed to use a body scrub or sugar scrub so line drying my towels has saved me more money than just the fabric softener. Just saying!
How to stop spending money you don’t have
The key to not over spending is to plan your money down to the last dollar and be more aware of where it is going.
When you’re spending on the wrong things, know that and take action to change things up. Create better money habits, stop buying unnecessary things and achieve the money goals you have.
For more help in managing your money successfully check out these helpful posts:
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 18th April 2021 by Emma