We all know that it’s far too easy to occasionally spend an extra dollar (or $5 or even $20). And as you may (or may not) have noticed, that money adds up fast!
No matter what your current expenses or spending habits look like, there are a few basic tips that you can follow to help you stop spending money.
We recently asked our Facebook followers to share their best advice on how to stop spending money, and we got some great responses! In this article, we’ll take a look at some of our favorite ways to avoid overspending, stop impulse buys and steer clear of spending triggers.
Begin With a Budget
The first step to stop spending money is finding out where your cash could and should be going.
If you don’t already have a monthly budget in place, be sure to set one up immediately. You can use our free budget worksheet to get started. Also, be sure to check out these three apps to help manage your money.
Once you know how much money you’re putting toward bills, expenses, debt and savings, it’s important to track any additional spending. This way, you know exactly what you’re spending your money on, and you’re never left wondering where it went.
Once your budget is up and running, begin setting small financial goals for yourself. This could include building up your emergency fund, paying off a debt or saving up for a trip or a big purchase. Savings goals are a great way to help you stay motivated, and they can inspire you to stop making unnecessary purchases.
15 Ways to Stop Spending Money
Whether you already have a budget and track your cash flow or you’re just getting started, it’s still a challenge to stop spending money.
Below are 15 tips shared by staff members of Clark.com and our Facebook community to help you reduce unnecessary spending and impulse buys.
1. Shop in Incognito Mode to Avoid Ads
Impulse spending is no longer limited to checkout aisles in stores. The websites you visit are most likely keeping track of your purchases and web searches in order to show you relevant ads. Those ads can easily tempt you into making an unnecessary purchase.
Prevent impulse buys and personalized ads altogether by doing your online shopping in incognito mode. In this mode, your browser won’t share information about what you shop for or purchase. That means you’ll see less tempting ads later on!
2. Order Groceries Online
It’s probably fair to say that most of our impulse buys happen at the grocery store. An easy way to prevent these purchases is by ordering your groceries online instead. One of our Facebook followers, Donna, shares this tip:
“Order groceries and other stuff from Walmart online and have them delivered or picked up! It saves a ton of impulse buying. Oh, and you can see a running total as well, which helps keep spending under control.”
While there may be an additional fee for delivery, pickup is free at many stores including Walmart and Kroger. Before you place your first order, check out our top picks for the best grocery delivery services and the best grocery pickup services.
3. Plan Your Meals Around Sales
Knowing what you need to buy before you get to the grocery store is already a great way to avoid overspending. For even more savings, use your local grocery store’s weekly ad to plan your purchases around the best deals.
If your grocery store has an app, you may be able to find additional coupons there. I recently started clipping digital coupons on Kroger’s app before heading to the store, and I wish I had started doing this sooner!
4. Eat at Home
Once you’ve planned your meals and bought the necessary groceries, eat them! Janielle, a Clark.com Facebook subscriber, shares this tip:
“We stopped eating out. No fast food, pizza, no restaurants … nothing. We buy groceries and that’s it. Eating out really adds up. We have seen our savings really grow!”
For many of us, eating at home is probably one of the most effective ways to stop spending money. Avoid going out to eat or do so only on special occasions. Instead, opt for healthy home-cooked meals.
For even more savings, pack your lunch when you know you’ll be out so you can avoid buying food on the go. And eating before you leave the house can help curb the temptation.
5. Find Free Entertainment
You may have already cut back your entertainment spending because of the coronavirus pandemic, but did you know there are countless resources for free entertainment online?
Additionally, you may still be able to check out books through your local library.
And while you’re staying at home, you could listen to a podcast, take up a new hobby, learn a new skill or play board games.
For more ideas and inspiration, check out a few of the socially distanced options in this guide of free things to do.
6. Know Your Hourly Pay
If you don’t already know, take the time to figure out exactly how much money you make in one hour. One Facebook user, Mary, relies on this as inspiration to decide whether or not a purchase is important.
“I always ask myself, ‘how many hours do I have to work to buy…’ and then decide if what I’m buying is really worth it.”
This is a great way to decide quickly if a product or service is worth the price to you.
7. Automate Your Savings
One effective way to stop spending money is by making sure that it never hits your checking account in the first place. Instead, have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into another account.
You can set up automated savings through your bank so that an amount or percentage of your paycheck will be deposited into your designated savings or checking account every time you get paid. Not only is this a simple way to save, but you’ll be much less tempted to spend money that isn’t easily accessible.
8. Switch to a Cash-Only Budget
When you’re out and about, you’re less likely to spend money when you have to actually hand over cash instead of swiping a card.
“I went back to using cash a while ago,” says Mary, a Clark.com Facebook subscriber. “It makes you more cognizant of what you’re spending when it’s cash in front of you.”
For more tips and inspiration on switching to a cash-only budget, check out this article on how to budget with a cash envelope system.
9. Stop Using Credit Cards
If you already have credit card debt, don’t add to it! If at all possible, stick to a cash-only budget. Going further into debt is not an effective way to stop spending the money you already have.
To avoid temptation, leave your credit cards at home. Keep them out of sight and out of mind. If it’s necessary, cut them up! As long as you don’t have them, you won’t be tempted to spend money using them.
Of course, if you regularly pay off your credit card balance in order to take advantage of cash back opportunities, this may not be as big of an issue for you. Just be sure to track your credit card use closely to avoid overspending.
10. Wait Before You Buy
If you’re shopping online, leave things in your shopping cart for a full day before making the purchase. Likewise, wait the same amount of time before rushing out to the store for something that isn’t 100% necessary in the moment.
By giving yourself time before you buy, you’re able to prevent buying things on impulse and instead look at what you really need.
11. Borrow, Don’t Buy
Instead of rushing to the store or searching Amazon for a seemingly necessary purchase, consider asking your friends and family members if you can borrow what you’re looking for instead.
You’ll most likely be able to find someone in your circle with home improvement tools, seasonal decor, travel necessities and other items you don’t use every day. You could avoid spending quite a bit simply by asking a friend instead of a salesperson.
12. Practice Minimalism
It may sound simplistic, but one way to stop spending money is by not buying new things. Instead of purchasing something new for your home or closet, consider selling or donating the things you already have.
At the very least, try to donate one or two items you already own for every new item you buy. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- If you buy a new shirt, donate one or two shirts that are already in your closet
- Sell or donate books from your bookshelf before purchasing or checking out a new one
- Before you buy a new toy for your child, have them pick out an old toy they’re ready to donate
Cutting down on clutter clears up mental space, and you’ll realize that you may not need everything that you have — let alone the things you haven’t yet bought.
13. Cancel Catalogs and Emails
Similar to impulse buying at the grocery stores or because of online advertisements, catalogs and emails may tempt you into unnecessary spending. Take the time to cancel any unneeded subscriptions to prevent future spending.
14. Don’t Go Shopping
This is another tip that may seem obvious, but shopping for any reason nearly guarantees you’ll end up spending money. Stay out of as many stores as possible in order to avoid temptation.
If you need a day out, go to the park. If you have time to kill, have a conversation with a friend or catch up on reading. Do whatever you need to do in order to avoid the cash register. Ultimately, if you’re trying to stop spending money, you should stay away from the stores.
15. Understand Your Spending Triggers
If you’re looking for ways to stop spending money, it’s most likely because you aren’t happy with how much you’re currently spending. The most effective, long-term solution to stop spending money is to know why you’re spending it. Discover your spending triggers and work to take control of them.
Here are a few specific examples:
- If you have a habit of going to Starbucks after work, purchase great coffee that you can look forward to making at home instead
- If you’re likely to spend money when hanging out with a group of friends, invite them to your place instead for an outside, socially-distanced get-together.
- Instead of spending $5 or $10 on lunch every day, plan your meals and pack them in advance
The pandemic has already changed many of our habits and may have changed our triggers. But whether it’s the time of day, peer pressure, your mood or something else entirely that causes you to spend, becoming aware of your habits is the only way to change them.
Spending money is necessary in today’s world, but how you spend it is up to you.
The best ways to stop spending money include avoiding temptation, planning ahead, understanding necessities and being aware of what you’re spending your money on. Be sure to keep in mind, as one Facebook user points out, these tips will only work if you’re willing to practice discipline with your finances.
For additional support, be sure to join our Ditch Your Debt Facebook group. You can also find the best deals across the web by following ClarkDeals.com and get more money-saving advice by signing up for Clark’s free newsletters.
What are your best tips and tricks to stop spending money? Let us know in the comments below!