Spending money can be so easy but if you can’t afford to keep doing it, what steps can you take to stop spending money that you don’t have?
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It is so easy to spend money.
A few quid here and there, a trip to the corner shop to pick up some milk, walking past a supermarket and grabbing something different for dinner or buying a pack of crisps as a snack over lunch.
None of these things cost a great deal of money but if you find yourself spending a few pounds each day, over the course of a month you could have spent over £100, or even more, on pretty much nothing.
The thing is, spending money in this way becomes a habit.
Having a little plastic card in your wallet or purse makes buying stuff a thing of ease. You no longer have to get cash out of the hole in the wall and when the money has run out, it’s gone.
How to stop spending money
The problem then lies when you have to budget really tightly and can’t afford to spend money here, there and everywhere.
When spending money becomes a habit, how can you break the cycle of spending which may have become like an addiction?
What you really need to do is just stop spending altogether; have no spend days, a spending fast or a spending diet – what even you want to call it – just stop it with the money already.
Plan for no spend days
A few times a week or month, plan to have a no spend day.
These are days when you aren’t allowed to spend a penny, nothing at all.
If you know that you can’t spend any extra money in a certain month (or even lots of months) then you need to get into planning.
There are certain bills that will come out of your bank no matter what but things like food can be planned for in advance.
You’ll need to have a good think about the food you’ll need to buy over a month and do big shops (and avoid little tops up shop when you can easily spend £20 without realising).
Or do your supermarket shop online so you can stop picking up extra things.
If you can do as few shops in a month as possible then you will have less temptation to spend.
Do you think you could do one shop for an entire month? It would be hard, but not impossible.
Set and plan your budget
One way to stop spending money is by knowing exactly where you stand from week to week or month to month.
Take a look at all your income, then deduct all your bills, debts and money you set aside for savings.
Whatever is left can be split up as your spending money.
Lose your money as soon as your paid
Pay yourself first – this doesn’t mean giving yourself money to spend willy-nilly.
Paying yourself first means you put a portion of your salary safely into a savings account.
As soon as you are paid, transfer savings to a separate account that you cannot see on a day to day basis.
Instead of manually transferring the money, set up a standing order and then forget about it.
Doing this means there won’t be spare cash sitting there so you won’t need to force yourself to stop spending money.
Leave your money at home
When you know you are going out and may get tempted to buy something – even if it is just a can of coke or a pack of gum – don’t leave yourself any temptations!
If you leave your bank card at home then there is no way that you can buy anything.
You’ll just be able to walk into a shop, have a look around then walk out empty-handed.
The same goes for cash.
If you are going out and you don’t need to buy anything then don’t take any cash that you may accidentally spend.
Cancel your card
It’s a drastic step but if you have a real spending problem, you could call your bank and report your card as lost.
They will put a block on the card and you can no longer spend any money.
It’s a short term fix for a bigger problem but it will certainly stop you from being able to make any purchases!
If you do need some cash before a new card arrives, you’ll have to make a special trip to your bank with ID to withdraw some cash.
This way, you have to put in special effort to get some money, rather than having it so easy to hand.
Remove cards from Apple Pay/Google Pay
Being able to pay for stuff from your phone or watch makes shopping so much easier.
Trouble is when you are looking at how to stop spending money, having easy access to your bank account or credit cards in the palm of your hand isn’t the best thing.
Go to your phone settings and simply remove the accounts.
This will stop you from being able to easily spend money, and you will have to go to your bag, pocket or wallet to part with your cash.
Hide your credit card
A step slightly less far than cutting up or cancelling your bank cards is simply hiding them.
Could you let your mum or a trusted friend keep them safe and out of your sight?
This can really help with your spending habits as you won’t have the credit cards on hand to use.
Use the two question rule
There was a time when any money I had would burn a hole in my pocket.
I would just spend and spend and spend without thinking of the knock-on effect it would have.
Eventually, something had to give and I needed to change my habits drastically so I devised my own process – the two question rule.
Now, whenever I’m tempted to put my hands in my pocket and make a purchase, I ask myself:
- “did I need this item yesterday?” and
- “will I really need this item tomorrow?”
Nine times out of 10 the answer is no and I don’t make the purchase.
Whether this will work for everyone, I really don’t know?
It works for me though as it gives me a few minutes to consider what I’m doing and to make a rational decision.
Borrow instead of buying
Having recently moved house, we needed to buy a few new things.
But, we found a way round it so we could stop spending money we didn’t really have to.
In our new adopted city, a community interest Library of Stuff lends out items (not books).
Need a 4 man tent? Or perhaps a drill? Maybe your patio is filthy and you need a pressure washer?
Instead of buying an item that you only need for a one-off job, you can borrow them.
As well as keeping your spending down, it also means you don’t have another random thing to store.
Does your area have a Library of Stuff?
If you don’t have a library of stuff, why not start a Facebook group and see if others are willing to share their items with neighbours.
Or, just ask your friends, colleagues or family members if you can borrow an item (which really will help cut back on your spending habits).
Spending too much money on take out food for dinner or lunches is a struggle for a lot of people.
You will likely be shopping each week at the grocery store, then getting take out as well.
Instead of shopping randomly, get a list of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, and then shop just for those items.
Not only will you save money on your weekly grocery store spend, but you’ll spend less on take out too.
Again, I’m not saying to cut out all spending.
It’s more of a case that it’s useful to learn how to stop spending too much everyday.
Leave a bit of spare cash in your budget for a take out treat once a week and you might find you enjoy it more.
Shop with a list
Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy shopping from time to time.
It’s my bank balance and credit card limit that doesn’t want me to do it!
And everyone needs to buy stuff. When it comes to shopping, it’s good to build healthy spending habits, rather than looking for how to stop spending money altogether as it’s not sustainable in the long term.
When you do go shopping, make a list before you head out.
Know what you only need to buy certain things from certain shops will make it easier to go in, get what you need and head out, without finding you are over spending.
When you know you can’t spend any money, it can sometimes make you want to spend it that bit more – it’s just a temptation burning a hole in your pocket!
You can keep a spending diary, sure, but that shows what you are spending and you want to spend nothing.
Instead, keep a No Spend diary.
Set yourself a target of how many days you can go without spending one penny – not one coin!
With a spending fast, you can challenge yourself for how long you can go with no purchases.
It can become a game so why not rope in someone else in the household, or a friend, and see who can win?
Challenge yourself now: how many days could you go without spending a penny? Two, five, more?
Unsubscribe to everything!
Pay day weekend 10% off emails are some of the biggest annoyances of my life!
These stores are telling you to spend, when you need to be saving money.
One of the healthiest things you can do is spending 30 minutes in your emails and unsubscribe to everyone who is tempting you to spend money.
This will just hurt your bank balance or build up credit card debt.
It can also be a good idea to look at your page likes on Facebook, Instagram and any other social media accounts and “unlike” or unfollow and accounts.
This can also help you resist overspending and impulse buying stuff you really don’t need.