Want to start fresh financially this January and stop spending money? Want to save more money, pay off debt, and even find the funds to invest or travel?
Controlling your spending habits is a key way to improving your finances (increasing your income is the other strategy).
Sometimes, rather than just shaving a little money off a budget category here or there, it’s helpful to go cold turkey and just stop spending money as much as possible.
So what strategies can you use to stop impulse buys and frivolous spending?
Stop spending money by “saving yourself poor.”
This is a strategy I often use to stop spending money: At the beginning of the month or pay period, I pay all necessary bills, set a low grocery and gas budget, and then distribute all remaining funds to my savings goals.
Because I keep my savings accounts at an online bank to get an excellent interest rate – while my checking account is at a local bank – I don’t have the temptation to spend my savings.
I transfer excess funds to savings right away, and the lower checking account balance makes me feel artificially broke. (If you try this, just be careful you don’t drop below any required account minimums so you don’t incur fees.)
This strategy gives me the pinch of a broke budget to help motivate me, but since I’m saving the money, it helps put me ahead of the financial game.
- How to Live Frugal: 21 Tips to Master Cheap Living
- 7 Places to Stash Your Emergency Fund
- How to Find a High Interest Savings Account
Remove credit and debit cards from your wallet.
Ditching the cards in your wallet can be a great way to curb spending, especially if you’re prone to dropping a few bucks on a soda here or buying impulse groceries there. Identify how much cash you’ll need for the week and carry only that – and you’ll be limited automatically.
In the online world, don’t save your credit card info with a password manager or extension – manually force yourself to type it in each type to help you stop and think before you buy something.
Delete shopping apps and unsubscribe from store email lists.
You can’t be tempted by deals if you don’t know about them. Make it a point to purge all shopping apps on your phone. Click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of every store email you receive to stop spending money easily.
Stay out of stores.
Don’t go in places where you’ll spend money. If you do have an overwhelming desire to window shop or walk the mall for fitness, leave your wallet at home.
Take on a no-spend challenge.
How many days can you go without spending a penny? I’m addicted to no spend challenges because they shut down spending altogether.
Start a no spend challenge by setting a goal of how many days you can go without spending any money at all. Of course, you’ll have your regular bills to pay throughout the month. But stretching your budget by staying home (and not spending on gas, transportation, and entertainment), doing DIY projects instead of paying someone, and eating food on hand in your pantry and fridge can save a lot of cash.
Here are some of my favorite books about drastically reducing spending and no spend challenges:
Impose a waiting period.
If you want to stop spending money, but still have the need or desire for something non-essential, impose a waiting period of a week or month before you make any purchases.
Reevaluate your need for the item at the end of that period – just waiting a brief time may help you realize that you never needed the item anyway.
Ask for items you need before buying.
Before you make a purchase of something new, look into whether you can borrow the item from a friend or coworker. If you belong to a church or community club, see if you can email or post to a bulletin board about the item you’re looking for.
Look for free stuff.
Here are some great resources for finding things for free – so you can stop spending money on these items.
- Check out Craigslist’s Free section in your area.
- Visit your local library – they often have free items for members or bulletin boards you can post on.
- Look for “free sales” – essentially rummage or church sales in your area. These sales receive donations from members and then pass the items on at no cost to those in need.
- Visit the Freecycle Network to connect with online users who are in need – no charge.
Take up an inexpensive hobby.
Another strategy to curb spending and mindless shopping is to fill your time with a fulfilling hobby or activity. Devoting more time to your hobby means you have less time to spend money.
Hobbies that are cheap and fun and don’t involve spending much money include:
- Walking, hiking, and running
- Lifting weights
- Photography (just use the smartphone you already have)
- Cooking and baking
- Playing board games
- Bird watching
- Taking an online class
- Selling stuff online
Stop the research cycle.
Are you an obsessive researcher when it comes to products and purchases? Do you lose yourself in review websites, customer forums, and online ratings?
Consider that the research cycle could be feeding your spending impulses by encouraging you to buy more or better than you actually need. If a $10 pair of earbuds would do the job, for example, you might end up spending more after reading for 5 hours about the best earbuds on the market.
If you need to purchase something, set a hard limit of 15 or 30 minutes to research something to help stop spending money.
Change the spending habit.
To stop spending money, change the habit that leads to the purchase. That might mean:
- Reading personal finance books or listening to personal finance audiobooks instead of shopping magazines.
- Driving on a more rural road to work if you tend to stop for coffee and a bagel every morning.
- Visiting the library on a Friday afternoon instead of the bookstore.
- Shopping on Amazon or Walmart for the exact items you need instead of browsing Target every weekend.
- Finding frugal things to do with your kids instead of spending money.
Figure out where you’re spending extra money – and change the routine to make spending less accessible.
What are your strategies for reducing your monthly or daily spending? Let us know in the comments!