Spending money never gets old, does it? While it’s easy to spend more cash than you mean to, it’s equally difficult to learn how to stop spending money. But it gets easier when you know the benefits of spending less and have a game plan for the future!
Table of contents
- Why do people over spend?
- How to stop spending money: 5 Key focus areas
- Expert tip: Focus on improving your habits
- 5 Tips to help you be mindful with spending money
- I’ve learned how to stop spending money, now what?
- How can I reduce my mindless spending?
- How do I stop spending money for 30 days?
- Why can’t I stop spending money?
- How do I stop spending money when bored?
- Articles related to how to stop spending money
- Start working on how to stop spending money randomly!
Each year, more and more Americans find themselves in debt. In 2022, the average consumer had $5,910 in credit card debt, according to Experian.
Meanwhile, as shopping sites such as Amazon continue to dominate, the opportunities to spend have gotten increasingly attractive, even as we wonder how to stop spending money.
If you open your browser, you’re met with many ads offering products that fit your unique set of interests. You may find yourself caving in month after month and buying things you don’t need.
And now, you’re ready to stop the shopping binge days and start saving. Below, we’ll discuss some key tips on how to stop spending money you don’t have.
Why do people over spend?
Overspending is quite common, and there are many reasons this can happen.
A lack of planning or failing to budget is one of the big budget challenges. Even with the best intentions, creating and sticking to a budget is not always easy, so people may spend more than they intended simply by not planning or forgetting about their budget.
There is also the tendency to buy things on impulse.
For example, if you forget to grocery shop or plan meals in advance, you may end up impulsively buying takeout. Or perhaps you see a new handbag or scarf that you didn’t plan to buy, but you decide to spend the money anyway.
There are many more reasons, but these are some of the things that may cause people to spend more than they plan to.
How to stop spending money: 5 Key focus areas
When it comes to over spending and ways to stop spending money, focusing on these five areas can make all the difference. They are:
- Eating out and uneaten food
- Clothing and accessories
- Expensive coffee
- Unnecessary things
- Credit cards
Let’s get into each of these money spending problems in more detail below. We will also discuss the specific actions you can take to learn how to stop spending so much money in these areas and how to avoid big overspending mistakes.
1. Take control of your food costs: Eating out/uneaten groceries
It’s been a long week, and the last thing you want to do is stand in front of the stove and cook. So what do you do? Punch in an online order, throw your feet up on the couch, and turn on your favorite Netflix show.
While this sounds like an amazing evening, it could set you down a slippery slope into a life of little to no savings. On average, an American household spends $3,008 eating out each year, according to CNBC. Those $20-$40 meals add up really quickly, don’t they?
Or here’s another scenario. You happen to be walking past your local grocery store and suddenly remember that your food supplies are running low. As you walk down the aisles, you make educated guesses on what ingredients you’re missing because your memory is still sharp, right?
Wrong. When you get home, you realize you still have eggs, there’s the fruit you had forgotten about, and bread tucked away in a corner. Yet, you bought all these things again.
Now you have duplicates, and you know some of them are going to go to waste.
Under these circumstances, what can you do to stop spending so much on food? How can you balance your hectic schedule with a need to eat food quickly, conveniently, and affordably?
Make a shopping list
If you don’t have a list, stay away from the supermarket. A list guarantees that you stick only to what you need, eliminating any guesswork in the process.
Grocery shopping on a budget is way easier when you plan what you need to buy in advance.
Learn to say “no” when you need to
If you’re in the red every month but still find yourself going out to eat when you can’t afford to, you need to reevaluate your spending habits. Realize that you’re not saying no to friendships, you’re learning how to say no to a lifestyle that derails your budget.
Have quick and simple go-to recipes for days when you just don’t have time
It happens. Life gets busy. And the temptation is to simply order food online and call it a day.
The wiser thing to do is to store your own set of go-to recipes that are really quick and easy for nights when you just don’t have time. Pinterest has a ton of great quick and easy-to-make meal plans. Many of them come with grocery shopping lists too!
Or try out an eating clean on a budget meal plan.
2. Stop spending money on clothes you don’t wear
Have you ever had those days where you looked so good that you were oozing with confidence and getting many compliments about your outfit?
If you think about it, a lot of the time, it’s not because you were wearing something new. Rather, it’s because you looked good in what you were wearing. The color made your skin glow, or the fit was perfect on you.
New clothes don’t always give us the satisfaction we crave.
In fact, they can sometimes go unworn in our wardrobes because we realize that what seemed like a perfect idea through the fancy fitting room light was not so exciting once we got home. So we just forget about them while they gather dust in the closet.
There’s got to be a better way. Here’s how:
Create a capsule wardrobe
This consists of a limited number of quality staple items you can mix and match throughout the year. You can learn how to build a capsule wardrobe and also have great style.
Take good care of your clothing
Taking care of the clothes you already have helps to avoid the need to constantly replace them. This, in turn, means less spending.
Remember that wearing clean and well-laundered clothes goes a lot further as one of the confidence building exercises than spending money on new items.
Learn to use accessories to revamp an old outfit
An outfit is more than a piece of clothing. Rather, it is a comprehensive look that consists of hair, shoes, and accessories. An old look can look completely new with any items switched around.
3. How to stop spending money on expensive coffee
We get it. Drinking coffee is like breathing air for some people. It can truly make or break your day.
Most Americans spend an average amount of $1,097 on coffee each year, claims Zippia. But you can save money and still reap the benefits of caffeine.
If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you have a lot of options to help you keep the costs down and learn how to stop over spending. For instance:
- Brew your coffee at home, as you can easily save $20+ a week doing so.
- Test alternatives such as a good tea which often contains good doses of antioxidants and minerals
- Use cutting down on coffee as an excuse to ramp up on drinking water or other healthy alternatives such as coconut water.
4. Stop spending money on unnecessary things you don’t need
Shopping has never been easier. At the click of a button, you can have exactly what you want at lightning speed. Thanks, Amazon.
As exciting as that is, it can also be counterproductive if you fall prey to shiny object syndrome. You might be wondering what that is.
Simply put, you’re a victim of shiny object syndrome if you’re easily swayed into buying items at the moment. You’re driven more by your wants vs. your needs, and you make purchase decisions very quickly. You may even find that you have a shopping addiction.
To put a stop to this, you can deploy a few tactics:
Stick to cash
Using cash automatically prevents you from buying unplanned items online. It also restricts spending in-store, forcing you to stick to cash.
It’s also a good idea to determine, “How much cash should I have on hand?” so you’ll always be prepared for anything.
Track your expenses
Much of the time, when we are completely unaware of how much we’re spending, we are more likely to assume that there’s plenty more where that came from. Meanwhile, our bank accounts will be telling us another story.
It’s important to keep track of your expenses, maybe by writing them down or looking at your bank account often.
Spend 5 minutes a day checking your bank balance
Related to the above, if you’re unaware of your bank balance, you will overestimate what you have available in your account.
So you should spend a few minutes each day checking your bank account, as well as any credit cards or savings accounts. Then you’ll be reminded of purchases you made and bills that are paid or not paid.
Know what triggers your spending
Are you spending more when you’re with friends? Wondering how to stop online shopping? Walking through shopping malls?
One key to curbing unnecessary spending is to know yourself and be in tune with when you spend more.
Also, understand what items you tend to overspend on, be it luxury clothing, entertainment, or impulse buying.
Give yourself a few days to think
Sometimes, time to really think through whether an item you’re thinking of purchasing is worth it can help you gain clarity on whether to spend money on that item or not. Taking a couple of days to decide if you truly need to buy something can help you cut down on impulsive purchases.
Prioritize needs vs wants
Knowing the difference between a want and a need and deciding how to prioritize is a skill that you can learn over time.
A need is something you have to have to survive. It includes mortgage and rent payments, food, clothing, phone and internet access, insurance, etc.
A want is anything that you don’t need.
For example, gym memberships, traveling, fresh flowers for the house, a new car, these are things that you may want, but you don’t need to live your life.
Once you define needs vs wants, and you determine that needs are much more important, you can prioritize the things you want so you can decide what to buy and what not to.
5. Stop spending money on your credit card
Credit cards can easily get you on the fast track into debt. If you struggle to exercise discipline with them, it may be best to completely stop using them. Credit card debt can limit families from investing and building wealth for their futures.
If you’re currently dependent on your credit card to help you with expenses, you need to have an honest self-evaluation. Determine if you’re depending on your credit card because you’re trying to build your credit score, you’re unable to keep up with your bills, you’re looking to build rewards from using the card, or any other reason.
If it’s causing you to sink further and further into debt, it’s time to take action. Here’s how:
Learn how to budget
While the thought of budgeting may make you want to run for the hills, this discipline could be the difference between retiring and working forever.
Better budgeting helps you fully know and understand where you’re earning and spending and helps you plan how to save.
There are many types of budgets to choose from, including the 80/20 budget and the 50-30-20 rule.
Ditch the cards and carry cash
It never fails. Carrying cash is by far the simplest solution to ridding yourself of credit card debt. When you stop carrying them around with you everywhere, it becomes less convenient for you to splurge on that unplanned item.
Alternatively, you can use a digital envelope system if you don’t want to carry cash but want to keep track of your spending.
Cut up your credit cards
If you’re truly struggling to stop using the cards or you have a shopping addiction fueled by credit cards, you may need to take more intense action, which would be putting them through the shredder.
A spending freeze on credit will be worth your while. Cutting up your credit cards can help you to stop spending on credit because it will be so inconvenient.
Expert tip: Focus on improving your habitsOverall, learning to spend less and be mindful of your money is a habit. So make it easier for yourself to create this new habit by carrying cash, checking your bank account, etc.
If you will take the time to build new money ideas and patterns into your life, you will see improvement with your spending. Even if you don’t see progress for a while, don’t give up, and you will learn to control your money!
5 Tips to help you be mindful with spending money
The most important thing with spending is to be aware of how much you’re spending and what you tend to spend money on. Here are some ideas to help:
Step 1: Know your why
When you start off with financial goal setting—for instance, to learn how to stop over spending—you need to have a reason you want to change.
In other words, you need to have a WHY. Having this reason in place is one of the things that will keep you motivated to achieve your financial goals (in addition to working on your self-discipline and building new habits).
Your why could be your children, buying a house, or moving to a different city. Whatever that thing is that you dream of or want to look back and be proud of.
Take photos of it, save it on your phone, and set calendar reminders—basically, you want to make sure your WHY is always in focus in your everyday life.
Step 2: Identify your triggers
The next step if you’re wondering how to stop over spending is to determine what causes you to overspend.
Do you find you are spending more when you hang around certain people? Is it when you see what people post on Instagram? Or when you drive by the mall?
Once you figure out what your spending triggers are, then it’s time to address them. It could mean spending less time with the people that you find yourself spending the most money around. Or maybe unfollow people on Instagram, or take a different route so you don’t have to drive by the mall all the time.
Identifying and addressing your triggers, especially in the early stages of working on your spending habits, will help you stay on track.
Step 3: Learn how to budget and go on a cash or debit card diet
Having a budget is how you track your income and expenses. Once you are able to track your income and expenses, then you’ll know how much you have left over to spend/save. A good idea is to track your current spending for 30 days to see exactly where your money is going and determine what you need to cut out.
Once you are able to track your expenses for 30 days, you will very likely find areas of unnecessary spending. Eating out, daily coffees, shopping, unused gym memberships, and subscriptions are things you can cut back on, which will help with cutting the budget.
You may find that a lot of your spending is unavoidable, and you cannot cut it out right away. Things like being tied into a lease and having to pay rent or being in the middle of a remodeling project at your home that’s costly to terminate.
If you’re in this situation, then consider how to increase your income. Find a better-paying job, a part-time job, or even start a side hustle to bring more money in.
Next, consider ditching your credit cards. Go on a cash/debit card diet where you designate a fixed amount of money that you can spend every week or month. When it runs out, you are done spending until the next month.
Step 4: Automate your bills
The final piece of the puzzle involves automating bills and learning how to automate your finances. Automation saves you quite a bit of mental work at the end of each month. It simplifies the decisions you need to make around your finances, and it ensures that you do not suffer from any decision fatigue that will leave your finances in shambles.
Automation can be done across your bills, investments, debt payments, and other recurring expenses.
Once you have direct deposit set up with your employer, you can focus on setting up automatic bill payments.
Since you likely have multiple expenses, you will want to sync up the bill payment dates so that they align with your direct deposit. You can do this by calling each of your billing companies and asking them to reset the billing cycle to match your paydays.
Step 5: Create goals
A big part of budgeting and knowing what you want to use your money for involves creating goals. Without goals, overspending is easy because you won’t have planned something more worthwhile to spend your money on.
So decide on a couple of important things that you want to spend your income on. You may choose as a goal an emergency fund, a vacation, debt payoff, or retirement savings.
It’s up to you, but the best goals to have will allow you to make much more progress than just paying your bills and then not knowing where the rest of your money went.
I’ve learned how to stop spending money, now what?
Now that you’ve mastered how to manage your spending, you can shift gears into thinking about what to do with the balance of your funds. Thankfully, you have quite a few options that will set you up for a stable and happy retirement. You can either:
Save more money
According to Bankrate, less than half of American adults have enough saved to pay for 3 months’ worth of expenses if needed. Saving money will help you build that cushion in emergency funds to meet any unexpected costs.
Pay off debt
Paying off debt, whether consumer or education loans, should always be a top priority, as the consequences for not doing so on time can have broader implications for your finances.
One effective way to tackle your debt, if you have multiple sources of it, is to use the debt snowball worksheet, a method that prioritizes paying off your smallest debts first to help you achieve quick wins and eliminate the overwhelm of paying down large debt.
Once you’ve tackled your debt, you can then focus on how to start investing and creating a strong investment strategy. You’ll want to ensure you have a retirement account set up where you are regularly making contributions.
If your employer offers a match, make sure you are signed up for that. With any investment strategy, it is important to invest for the long term in order to maximize your returns and to ignore any short-term volatile movement in the stock markets.
Technology is rapidly changing, and the skills you had five years ago might not be as relevant as they were back then. Investing in your own periodic self-development will go a long way in keeping your skills fresh for today’s job market.
How can I reduce my mindless spending?
Reducing mindless spending is a matter of being intentional with your budget and fully considering a purchase before buying it.
For instance, if you want to buy a new pair of shoes, a book, or a new phone, consider a couple of things. Is it a necessary purchase, is it within your price range, etc.?
By being more intentional and taking time to think, you can get rid of mindless spending.
How do I stop spending money for 30 days?
If you feel that your spending is out of control, you can stop spending money for 30 days by doing a no spend challenge.
Determine to buy only what is necessary (essential bills only) and then save the rest of your money for one month.
There are plenty of ways to do a no spend challenge, so find a method that works for you.
Why can’t I stop spending money?
You may not be able to stop spending money if over spending has become something you do all the time. But a habit of spending money can be broken, just like any other money habits.
You can try a no spend challenge, get an accountability partner, or focus on budgeting to help you spend less money. The most important thing is to be aware of this struggle and take positive steps to improve your habits.
How do I stop spending money when bored?
Spending money when bored may be a common problem, but there are plenty of low-spend or no spend activities you can do instead.
Try making a list of free activities that you can do when you’re bored. When you’re tempted to spend out of boredom, look to the list! It might include things like:
- Go on a walk with a friend or a pet
- Check out free museum days or look for free festivals in your town or city
- Watch a movie
- Spend time with a family member or close friend
- Learn about a new subject by reading articles or checking out books from the library
- Read our post about what to do at night when bored
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Start working on how to stop spending money randomly!
Curbing your over spending could truly be the start of a different financial future for you and your family.
While it may seem daunting, you need to remember that spending money boils down to habits you build into your day, and you can start challenging yourself to make different choices.
If you can truly isolate some patterns that may be holding you back financially, you’ll be well on your way to not only reducing your spending but also learning to follow your dreams for a secure financial future.