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How to Fight the Urge to Spend Money
Are you struggling with how to stop spending money and take control of your finances? Are you often left with a whole lot of month and not enough paycheck? You struggle with cultivating better money habits?
If any of this sounds familiar, check out these simple, easy to follow tips and strategies on how to stop buying stuff and start making your money work for you!
Tips to Stop Spending Money on Unnecessary Things
Know your weakness.
You know where you love to shop and what you love to buy. If you don’t go, you can’t spend money.
Shop with a list and a time limit.
Give yourself a short window to shop. You don’t need to be racing down grocery aisles like a crazy person, but 15 minutes to purchase a handful of things is more than enough time to get in and get out. The quicker you are in and out, the less time you have to find things that you “need”.
Focus on what something is really costing you.
What’s your hourly rate? Let’s say I have an annual salary of $40,000/ year. My hourly rate would be about $19.23/hour. (40,000/52weeks divided by 40hrs/week). Now, let’s say you are really jonesing for a new purse. This purse is $125. I would have to work 6.5 hrs to pay for that purse. Is it really worth it? This has been a great way to get keep my discretionary spending in check.
Studies have shown that it is harder for you to part with cash than it is to hand over your debit/ credit card. The added bonus here is that once the cash is out, it’s out. No overspending.
Use the 3-day rule for purchases.
In our family budget, we have a limit of $100 for big expenditures. If it’s over $100 despite whether we have the money in our budget or not– if it’s not a need (food, shelter, etc) then we will wait for 3-days before deciding to purchase. Many times, when we aren’t at the store looking at it, once we’ve come home and had time to think about it, we’ll realize we don’t really need it after all. The other side is we have a few days to comparison shop to make sure we are getting the best deal.
Get a Partner
Just like losing weight, quitting smoking or any other hard to beat habit/addiction– you need someone to help you with accountability.
Food is the typical culprit for overspending.
Eating out is easy. You are constantly going. You have tons to do. If you are dropping $30 or $40 every time you go out–and you go out just once a week, that’s about $160 month! This is an easy place to trim the budget.
Start with a meal plan to start cutting back on food spending.
If you are looking to save more money at the grocery store check out apps like Ibotta* and Checkout51. You can upload your receipt and earn cash back on certain items that you purchased! You should check what items are earning cash back prior to going to the store to see if anything you need would qualify. *Note: If you click through to Ibotta using my affiliate link above, you will receive a $10 welcome bonus!
Stop impulsively buying what you don’t need.
Great deals aren’t always great in terms of helping you meet your financial goals.
Marketers are crazy clever. They know and wield spending triggers like–well like it’s their job because it is. BOGO, Black Friday, Buy 2, Get 1 Free.
Then there are all of the convenience items at the shopping checkouts. Did you know you can buy a pack of water for almost the same price as the refrigerated bottle of water at checkout?
I can’t think of a single instance when making an unplanned purchase is a great idea. These types of purchases are usually emotional ones– avoid!
Don’t bring your cash or debit card.
If you know you are going to a store you struggle with, don’t give yourself the option to cave into frivolous spending by leaving extra cash or card at home.
Find other ways to deal with your emotions.
Do you find yourself shopping when you are depressed? Happy? Need a boost of self confidence? Emotional spending is a legitimate problem that affects tons of people. Emotions can greatly influence your decision making process when it comes to spending money. Instead seeking gratification and happiness through purchases– try funnelling into another constructive outlet. Try things like hiking, riding your bike, start a journal, trade off hosting fun friend day dates, etc.
You aren’t saving money just because something is on sale.
If you were not already planning on purchasing– it doesn’t matter how deep the discount, you are still spending NOT SAVING MONEY!
If you are looking for ways to save money on purchases check out these great options for online shopping:
Honey. Helps you find the best price on Amazon. It shows you available coupons for the website you are shopping on. It’s as easy as clicking “apply coupons” button on your taskbar (You have to install Honey plugin on your computer).Bonus! When Honey makes a commission from the sale of an item, they split it with you, it’s called “Honey Gold”. Once you receive a certain level of “honey gold” you can redeem for gift cards to a variety of vendors (Target, Amazon, etc.).
Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Want to earn cash back for shopping online buying things that you would have purchased anyway? Then this is for you. Rakuten is huge. You get a certain percentage (it’s different with each vendor) and once a month you’ll get the cash back on the purchases you made. You can use this for booking hotels, airfare, buying clothes, toiletries, groceries, etc. Who doesn’t love free money!! You can join for free and with my referral link, you get $10 after your first purchase of $25 or more!
RetailMeNot. Download the plugin or search through their website and find coupons and promo codes to help save you money.
How Can I Create Better Money Habits?
Know your daily spending limit.
When you are creating your budget, take the extra step for your flex- spending and know what you are allowed to spend each day. It’s easy to rationalize a bunch of $3 expenses when you have $100/month to spend. But when that looks like $3.33/day, maybe you don’t want to blow your whole budget on coffee every morning.
Are you a budgeting beginner? Check out this step by step guide to setting up your budget. Downloadable templates are available!
Check-in with your budget often.
You can’t just set it and forget it. You aren’t saving yourself any money if it’s only happening on paper. As tedious as it is– you need to be checking in so you can constantly be course correcting.
Give yourself some fun money.
You are far more likely to stick to your budget if you give yourself some fun money to spend. Much like dieting, it is far easier to stay the course when you get a little bit of a reprieve for a meal or day.
Remember you are retraining bad spending habits. It is going to take lots of practice to replace them with new habits. Giving yourself a little grace will make it just a little easier to continue with your pursuit.
Give yourself a saving challenge.
I am competitive and goal oriented by nature. Saving worksheets are quick and easy ways to fast track your spending.
Another great way to save money is to take on a money spending freeze!
Bringing It All Together
Tips to put the breaks on buying stuff you don’t need:
- Know your weakness.
- Speed shopping. Get in and get out.
- What is the ‘real’ cost of that purchase?
- Cash is king.
- 3-day rule for purchases.
- Find an accountability partner.
- Food is the typical culprit for overspending.
- Steer clear of likely suspects for impulse purchases (like endcaps and stuff sitting around the register).
- Leave cash or card at home.
- Don’t be an emotional shopper.
If this list seems overwhelming, don’t try to do them all at once, pick one or two to implement during your first week. Then slowly add in another until you feel good about your control over your money. The good news is that every day is a chance to make a change, so why not start today?!
I would love to hear from you guys. Please comment below with questions or comments!
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