Learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary expenses is an important step for gaining control of your finances.
Too many people start off each payday with a feeling of wealth – and a plan for what they want to do with their money.
Then, all too soon, they discover that their account has been drained dry and all those plans are going to have to wait till next time.
The sooner you figure out how to stop spending money uncontrollably, the sooner you’ll be able to put those more important plans into place, whether that’s paying down your debt, saving up a deposit to buy a house or even just taking your partner on a nice vacation.
Here are my own top tips for how to stop spending money…
How To Stop Spending Money By Understanding Your Financial Weaknesses
Most of us are creatures of habit; we may all spend our money in different ways, but the things you splurge on are likely to be pretty consistent over time.
Whether that’s dropping a few dollars on a fancy coffee each morning (which quickly adds up) or buying the latest piece of Apple technology as soon as it’s released, one of the most critical steps for people wanting to learn how to stop spending money is getting an understanding of where your money goes.
There are a number of ways you can go about this. Personally, I’m a huge fan of carefully digging through my bank statements, looking for exactly where I’m spending my money, and what on. Other people prefer to collect their receipts carefully over several weeks or simply keep a record on their phone of their spending.
Whichever option you choose, it’s important that you then spend some time every pay day really analyzing your spending patterns.
Try categorizing your purchases to see where you’re spending your money. Pay attention to any recurring purchases that add up. Look for any spending you don’t even know about (like subscriptions you no longer use).
By getting familiar with your spending habits, you’ll be able to see where your money keeps going and you’ll be able to spot the “warning signs” when you find yourself near those preferred spending locations.
How To Stop Spending Money By Asking The Right Questions
If you want to learn how to stop spending money then there are some very helpful questions you should be asking yourself before making any purchase. Employing these may sound simple, but the fact is that many of us spend money without being fully aware of what we’re doing. Becoming more conscious of your spending is one powerful strategy for spending less and saving more.
The first question to ask is if you can really afford it. And when I say “can you afford it” I don’t mean is there enough available credit on your card? I don’t mean could you keep up with the monthly loan repayments. No, I mean do you have the cash to buy the item upfront right now and still cover all your other bills?
A second useful question when it comes to how to stop spending money is really whether you actually need the item in question? It’s all too easy to spend money on things we like and things that we want. But this is rarely the same as something we need.
The last question you should ask yourself is if you can get a better deal elsewhere? Is there a cheaper alternative? Is there some way in which you can save money on this purchase?
Not only will shopping around often save you a considerable amount of money in the first place but it can also have an additional side benefit; namely that the longer to spend making your mind up about a purchase, the less likely you are to end up buying it at all.
All too often we spend money simply because we happen to be in a store and see something we love or something that seems like too good a deal to pass up. Of course, that’s what retailers are hoping for. However having a “cooling off” period before making a purchase can help get you out of that “impulse” mentality and encourage you to think more logically about how you’re going to spend your money.
So if you’re wondering how to stop spending money then a good start is simply to factor the above questions into every purchasing decision you make and you’ll find you’re able to easily reduce the money you spend.
How To Stop Spending Money By Utilizing Psychology
Spending more money than you want can be rather like consuming more calories than you want. We all know that the principles of losing weight are easy; exercise more and eat less. Yet so many of us fail because of the psychological aspects of having to exercise, of denying ourselves the food we love and the motivational loss when things go wrong.
In other words, when it comes to the question of how to stop spending money, the biggest problem isn’t the physical process of achieving your goal. It’s the way your mind plays tricks on you, pushing you into poor decisions, and how big businesses leverage these “weaknesses” to fulfill their own needs.
That’s why, in my opinion, when you’re looking for advice on how to stop spending money you need to consider psychology and how you can “trick” your brain into making the right decisions that will help you to reduce your spending and save more of your income.
Record Your Purchases
One reason why so many people are searching for advice on how to stop spending money is that if you’re not careful, with all the bargains and special offers constantly on display, it’s easy for your money to vanish without you having any idea where is actually went.
One accountability tactic that I’ve found to work very well for me is to actually keep a journal of my purchases. Every time I spend any money – no matter how small – I write this down in a notebook or record it on my phone.
Not only does this help you keep a running tally of your expenditures but any “splurges” are recorded in black and white for you to see. The simple act of having to record your unnecessary expenses always makes me think twice because I find it so uncomfortable to write down how I let myself down this time!
One obvious tip for stopping spending money is to avoid temptation by not going anywhere near shops, bars and restaurants if you can avoid it. Yes, I appreciate that this may sound like an extreme solution but if you’re not there – faced with that beautiful dress or new piece of technology that you you just have to have - then you’re not going to be tempted into spending money you’d rather save.
Find other hobbies and interests that don’t involve shopping, and when you do go to the shops, aim to write a list in advance and stick to it. Don’t be fooled into additional purchases
While overall I advocate spending your money using a card rather than cash, because it’s easier to track where your money is going, for people wondering how to stop spending money, another useful psychological trick involves setting yourself a spending budget and then withdrawing this in cash.
For many people actually handing over physical notes and coins seems more difficult than paying on a card where your guilty purchases are hidden from view until that next bank statement turns up.
What’s almost as good is that budgeting becomes easier when you use cash. Set yourself a budget per week and just withdraw that cash. Using this technique you’ll instantly know at any point how much money you have to spend from your budget, and seeing your purse or wallet empty out through the week is a scary experience that encourages you to budget carefully so you can make it through without too much discomfort!
Cost Vs Time
So you found a great deal on bookcase that would look perfect in your bedroom. It’s exactly what you’ve been looking for and it’s 50% off. You’d be mad not to splurge, right?
Well pause there for just a moment because here’s another way to look at the same situation; and it’s one that’ll likely save you considerable money over the forthcoming months.
And that’s to ignore the cost, and especially the saving, and instead to think of the price as the number of hours you’d work to pay for it.
So let’s say out bookcase is reduced from $200 to $100. Looks good. But let’s assuming you earn $15 per hour and pay 20% tax. That means your take-home wage is $12. So you’ll have to work for 8.3 hours to pay for it. For many people that’s more than a whole day at work.
Ask yourself: would I happily work a whole day at work if my only reward at the end was this bookcase? Sometimes, the answer might be yes, especially if you enjoy your job. But in many cases the answer will be “no way!”, especially if you dislike your job.
We’re not necessarily trying to stop you ever spending money again, but rather looking at each purchasing decision from another aspect to try and encourage you to only spend money on things that will truly bring you joy.
Agree A Waiting Time
When it comes to the question of how to stop spending money another strategy that many people have used successfully is to set themselves a waiting time between seeing the product and actually buying it. This is another “cooling off” period idea that not only reduces the number of items you end up buying but also gives you time to find a better alternative.
For example one common way to apply this to your purchases is to wait one week per $100. So if you see an aquarium for $200 you’d like to buy, you wait two weeks before actually purchasing to see how you feel. In many cases you’ll have lost the urge to spend money on that item and can instead save it for the future. And if you do decide that you want the item, at least you’ve had more time to save up for it.
What techniques do you use to stop spending money? Please leave a comment with your experiences below…