If you’re like many people you may often find yourself overspending when you go to the store. While it may be difficult, there are many ways you can learn how to not spend money and buy less by replacing poor spending habits with new ones. We’ve compiled our 11 favorite tips on how to not spend money carelessly so you can save more money for the things you want in life.
1. Be Honest With Yourself
Before you learn how to not spend money, take a moment and do an honest assessment of your shopping and overspending habits. This is probably going to be a little painful, but it is important to recognize if you are spending more than you earn over the course of a year. Add up monthly bills and consider yearly expenses such as Christmas, birthdays, and vacations. You may find that you spend more than your yearly income on unnecessary expenses. This is a dicey path to be on because it can easily lead to a financial crisis like bankruptcy if not curbed early on.
2. Make A Budget
One of the best ways to learn how to not spend money and avoid overspending is to sit down and make a budget every month. Your monthly budget will probably include things like rent (or a mortgage), utilities, transportation, food costs, health insurance, debt payments, entertainment, and other miscellaneous expenses you have throughout the month.
Now that you’ve created your budget, it’s time to stick to it! Creating a budget does no good if you ignore it and never track your expenses. Record all your expenses and be honest with yourself. If you find areas where you are overspending, consider what you can do to help yourself stay within your budget. You might even find using a budgeting app like Mint or You Need a Budget can help you accurately track your expenses.
We’ve all had the feeling of walking through the mall or browsing online and finding something that we absolutely love. It’s perfect. You have to have it. If this is a common occurrence in your life, don’t tell yourself you can’t have it, tell yourself you can have it later. Telling yourself “not now” instead of “no” will give you time to decide if this purchase is a need, or whether it’s an impulse buy. If you can wait three days or a week (whatever timeline works for you) and you still want it, go and purchase it. Odds are it will still be there in a week.
4. Don’t Save Your Credit Card Information
Amazon’s one-click ordering button makes it so easy to make impulse buys if you have your credit card hooked up to the site. Do yourself a favor and don’t tempt yourself to overspend by deleting your credit card information from online shopping sites. This ensures that you at least have to take the time to enter your credit card information and gives you a moment to consider your purchase before you make it.
5. Socialize for Free
Hanging out with friends is fun, but it can get costly depending on what your group likes to do. Perhaps you have a group of friends that love to go shopping or are always heading out to dinner and a movie. While there’s nothing wrong with doing this once in a while, try and focus fun with your friends around free or cheap activities like hiking, biking, or grabbing some popcorn and Redbox or Netflix to enjoy at home. It’s okay to let your friends know you’re on a budget.
6. Don’t Go Shopping
This one basically just involves staying at home. Yup, that’s right. That urge to go to the store and shop can easily be deterred by simply hanging up your keys and putting your wallet away. Find something fun to do at home or go take a walk. You don’t need to run out for impulse purchases whenever the mood strikes you. Of course, these days we can buy from our computers, phones, virtual assistants, so review Tip #4.
7. Shop Deliberately
Part of why people shop compulsively is because they struggle with the willpower to control what they buy. This is one of the reasons you should never go shopping without a list and a plan. If you deliberately plan your shopping trip to pick up specific food items for planned weekly meals, you will buy less. You are much less likely to overspend just because you want it or are distracted by it. When you go shopping, you’re on a mission.
8. Use Cash and Leave the Cards at Home
A great tip for how to not spend money is to only take enough cash to purchase the items on your list and leave your cards at home. If you only take cash, you will be limited in what you can purchase and will need to focus on essentials, instead of wants. Credit cards allow you to easily overspend because you know the funds are available. Keep it simple, stick with cash—and try to forget about Apple Pay or Google Pay or whatever else you might be able to do from your phone.
9. Try a Spending Fast
This doesn’t mean going without groceries or other essentials—a spending fast is simply meant to teach you how to not spend money on non-essential items. You can determine how long your spending fast will last. It could be as short as a day or as long as a month. It’s a great way to practice self-control and willpower. What it does mean, is that you will really need to come to terms with what is necessary and what is not. For example ice cream is delicious, but it’s a treat, not a staple. Is that video game essential to your everyday life? Probably not.
10. Save for Something
If you struggle with overspending and don’t know how to encourage yourself to buy less, a savings goal may provide you with the motivation you need to learn how to not spend money. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to visit Europe, or you would really love to start saving for a down payment on a home. A savings goals can encourage you to put down that purse or longboard and keep your future goals in mind.
11. Consider How Much You Have to Work For It
Viewing a purchase from the perspective of how much you had to work to pay for it can make you buy less and consider your overspending habits. That new video game looks cool, but if it’s $60 and you only make $10/hr, then you will have to work about 8 hours (after taxes) to pay for it. Is it worth a full day’s work? Keeping this perspective will teach you how to spend less in the long run.
Understand Your Overspending
By applying these tips for how to not spend money, you will learn how to buy less and curb overspending habits. If you’ve tried these tips and find that you still struggle with overspending, it’s okay. Brush yourself off and keep on trying. Living by a budget and establishing new habits takes time and effort, but it is worth it in the end.
If you find that you have a compulsive shopping addiction, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a therapist so you can work through the underlying issues of your addiction. If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already decided that you want to get your spending under control and there’s no better time to start.
If you’re interested in more resources and want to learn more about personal finances, how to save money, or how to improve your credit visit Lift Credit today. Learn how to not spend money so you can reach your goals and have more money for the things you want.