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How to Stop Spending Money: 10 Effective Ways

Rebecca Safier • June 14, 2024

A person tracking purchases on their credit card to ensure they haven't overspent.

Between online shopping and flash sales, the temptation to spend money is everywhere. But spending past your means is a surefire way to end up with an empty bank account or a lot of credit card debt.

Fortunately, there are ways to establish healthier spending habits to meet your savings goals or pay off debt. From identifying shopping triggers to making a spending plan, here are some effective strategies to stop spending money and take back control of your finances.

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10 strategies to stop excessive spending

Whether you’re prone to impulse shopping or can’t resist a sale, you may find your paycheck disappearing nearly as fast as it hits your bank account. No matter how difficult things seem, anyone can learn how to stop spending money.

Here are 10 tips to try and stop spending money.

  • Track your expenses: Before you can stop overspending, you need to know exactly how much you’re spending. Use a simple spreadsheet or budget-tracking app to record your expenses and start identifying patterns in your spending. You might be surprised by how much small expenses have been adding up over time.
  • Adjust your budget: Next, adjust your budget to account for your spending and savings goals. Identify areas where you’re spending too much and come up with ways to cut back. One approach to budgeting is the 50/30/20 rule, where 50% of your budget goes toward needs, 30% goes toward wants, and the remaining 20% goes into savings. You can adjust these percentages to fit your needs.
  • Shop with a list: When you’re shopping in a store, it’s all too easy to pick up random items off the shelves or in line at checkout. By arming yourself with a list before you go in, you can stick to the necessities and avoid impulse buys.
  • Reduce dining out: Getting takeout and eating in restaurants can be a major drain on your budget. By going out less and cooking at home more, you might free up hundreds of dollars in your monthly budget.
  • Avoid impulse buys during sales: The discounts you get during a sale can make you feel like you’re saving money, but you’re still overspending if you didn’t need the item in the first place. Consider unsubscribing from promotional emails and reducing your time on social media so you see fewer ads.
  • Eliminate debt: Debt can be an additional drain on your bank account since you have to pay back the amount you borrowed plus interest and fees. One of the best ways to stop spending money is to swear off financing big purchases with a credit card, loan, or buy now, pay later service. If you need a big-ticket item, save up for it so you can pay the full cost upfront.
  • Practice delayed gratification: Are you prone to impulse shopping? If so, try waiting before you hit buy. After a few days, you might forget all about the item that felt so tempting. You could also try the 30-day savings challenge to see how you feel about making the purchase after a month.
  • Set and pursue new financial goals: Spending less just for the sake of it may not feel very motivating. Instead, set new financial goals that make you feel excited to follow your budget, such as saving up to buy a house or go on a vacation.
  • Use cash for physical store purchases: If you find yourself overspending on credit and debit cards, bring cash to the store instead. It’s easy to swipe plastic but harder to overspend when you feel the cash physically leaving your hand. Plus, you won’t be able to spend more than you brought to the store.
  • Identify your spending triggers: Consider the psychological root behind your spending. Do you tend to spend more when you’re bored, stressed, or sad? If retail therapy is breaking your budget, consider alternative, free ways to self-soothe, like taking a walk or calling a friend.

Causes behind extra spending

There are lots of reasons that people end up spending too much. Here are some of the main causes to watch out for as you consider how to stop spending money.

  • Using credit cards: It’s easy to swipe a credit card and worry about paying it back later. However, credit cards allow you to spend more than you earn and can rack up high interest rates and fees. Carrying high credit card balances can also hurt your credit score.
  • Limited self-awareness: A lack of self-awareness about your spending triggers can also lead to excessive spending. Digging into your patterns and mindset around money can help you establish new, more sustainable spending habits.
  • Emotional shopping: Retail therapy can provide a temporary rush of endorphins but can hurt you financially in the long run. Shopping to make yourself feel better is an easy way to overspend.
  • Failing to monitor expenses: You may spend too much simply because you have no idea how much you’re buying. A budget that accounts for your essential and non-essential expenses can help you keep track.
  • Peer pressure: The desire to “keep up with the Joneses” is a strong one. You might overspend to fit in with friends or family who are using the latest tech or wearing high-end brands.
  • Lifestyle inflation: If you start making more money, you might start spending more to upgrade your lifestyle. However, this lifestyle creep can make you end up in the same financial spot (or worse off) than you were before you got the raise.
  • Ignoring inflation impacts: Inflation causes prices of goods to increase over the years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index, which measures the average change in prices that consumers pay for goods and services, rose by 3.4% between April 2023 and April 2024.¹ Even if your shopping habits have stayed the same, you may need to look for discounts or buy less to account for these higher costs.
  • Misunderstanding credit: Access to credit can make you feel you have more money to spend than you do. Before you opt in, read over the terms and conditions of any financing agreement so you understand the long-term costs.
  • Influence of social media: Social media is another culprit when it comes to overspending. It bombards you with product ads and makes you feel as though you have to keep up with friends or influencers you follow. Limiting your time on social media could help rescue your budget.

How to maintain sustainable spending

Changing lifelong spending habits probably isn’t going to happen overnight. But with enough effort and self-awareness, you can build new habits that help you preserve more of your paycheck, meet your savings goals, and get out of debt.

Following a budget is key to maintaining sustainable spending. Track your income and expenses to know what you’re working with. Check in with your budget on a regular basis and make adjustments as needed.

For more on how to save your money, check out these money-saving hacks.

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¹ Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics's Consumer Price Index as of June 3, 2024: https://www.bls.gov/cpi/home.htm

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