So, you want to stop spending money. This might be easier said than done. When it comes to managing your money, there are things you need to do. You know you need to budget, try to get out of debt and control your spending.
The issue is not necessarily that you are spending money on things you don’t have, you just aren’t spending it in the right way. The issues is not that you don’t make enough money, it is just not having a plan on how to use it once you get it.
That’s what happened to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a plan for my money. That lead me down a path I did not like.
After years of working without a plan, I found myself on the steps of a courthouse declaring bankruptcy. And, because I did not learn how to make the right changes to managing my money, my husband and I found ourselves in debt a few years later.
The difference with the second time I had debt was that I took responsibility for it. I owned what happened and he and I worked together to make changes to not only pay off our debt, but to also never go there again.
If you find yourself in the same situation, you need to make big changes. To start, you have to stop spending money you don’t have. Plain and simple.
HOW TO STOP SPENDING MONEY
You need a budget
When many people hear the word budget, what they actually hear is “you don’t get to spend any money.” That is the opposite of what a budget does. Your budget is a roadmap. It shows you where your money should go – including the fun money you want to spend!
Your budget helps you know exactly what you need to do with your money when you get paid. Look at every penny as an employee of yours. You get to tell it where it needs to go. Some of them will go to rent, others to your car payment and still others will go to the bank to be saved.
The best part of a budget is that you can allow for fun. Learn how to budget to have fun and even how to budget if your paychecks are never the same amount.
Write down your goals
Successful people start planning by having the end in mind. This sometimes means taking a backward approach to your finances.
Think about what you want. Do you want to get that credit card paid off or maybe take that dream vacation? No matter your goal, figure out what it will take to get there and that will help you set your goal.
It may mean a fewer dinners out or putting in some overtime at work. Whatever your goal, make sure it is clearly defined and you keep it front and center. Put it on your refrigerator. Keep a photo of it in your wallet. Make sure you see that budget staring you back in the face every time you even think about spending money. That will usually stop you right in your tracks.
Cash is a Must
If you are someone who is always saying “I can’t stop spending money,” then you need to use cash. I’m sure you’ve heard it time and time again. Using cash is one of the simplest tricks to help you stop spending money you don’t have.
It works because it gives you defined money. If you have $100 to spend at the grocery store, there is no way you can even spend $101. You don’t have it. This forces you to spend wisely and think more about every purchase you make.
I know some of you are reading this saying “but if I have cash I just spend it so fast.” That is because you are not tracking it and taking responsibility for your spending.
This is where the cash envelope method helps.
If you have an envelope for groceries with $50 left in it, sure, you can dip into that and grab $20 to spend on lunch. But, what happens when you need food for your skill. You’re left with only $30 to spend. That may not get you much.
No more credit cards
One of the simplest ways to stop spending money is to get out the scissors and cut up those credit cards!! Or, if you aren’t ready to cut them up, put them on ice. Literally. Freeze your credit card in a block of ice.
If you keep spending, you have to cut off the source at its knees. While I don’t think credit cards are a good fit for everyone, I know they work for some.
If you must use credit cards, never charge more than you have in the bank to pay it off. That means you can’t charge the amount you believe you will get on your paycheck. There is never a guarantee that your check will arrive. Spend only the amount you have, not what you will receive.
Related: How to Pay off Your Credit Card Debt
One of the biggest changes we made to our own plan was to menu plan. It took me some time to put it all together, but now, I can plan our meals in no time at all. I use the simple menu planning system that I’ve taken time to build over the years.
While this works for me, I remember when I was learning how to menu plan. It was quite a process and I relied upon the help of some experts in the field. One of them I have used is . I loved how simple it was to create our meals each week.
Even the best menu plan won’t work if you aren’t eating what you buy. Make sure you are not making mistakes with your grocery budget and eat what you buy. After all, throwing food away is just money in the trash.
There is something fun about trying to beat yourself at your own game. By this I mean, if you have $150 to spend on groceries for the week, try to spend only $130. That gives you $20 more to spend on something else — or put towards your goal.
If you can’t control your spending and continue spending money you don’t have, you have to remove the temptation. Even something that seems harmless can result in spending money.
Related: Fun and Frugal Date Night Ideas
Use the Three Day Rule
The three-day rule is pretty simple. If you see something you want, wait for three days before you buy it. Once the third day is up, ask yourself if you still feel it is something you need.
If it is, look at your budget to ensure it works with this month’s spending. Then, double check the cash to make sure you have enough to pay for it. If both of these work, you can consider buying it.
The funny thing is that most purchases are impulse buys and the three day waiting period helps you realize you don’t need it. And, in fact, had you purchased it, you may even have buyer’s remorse at the three-day mark.
Don’t Buy Just Because of a Sale
Sales are very tempting. They lure you in and often result in making purchases you would not do otherwise. This is where your list is important. Make your list and stick to it – do not fall for the lure of the sales sign.
This is also true when it comes to using coupons. One thing I teach is that if you would not have bought it today at full price, don’t just buy it because you have a coupon.
I’m not saying don’t buy anything on sale. Just get the things you need that are on sale this week, or that you will need in the next weeks. You probably need spaghetti noodles, but you don’t need a new pair of shoes.
Related: The Money Traps You Will Fall For
Learn From Your Mistakes
The most important thing you must do is figure out where you’ve gone wrong in the past. Your mistakes will be different from everyone else’s. You may shop out of emotion while someone else does out of boredom.
You also need to keep in mind that you will make mistakes. There will be months when you fall off the wagon. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Use it is a chance to learn from them and do what you can to not repeat them again.
It is possible to gain control of your spending. You just need to have the desire – and the tools – to make it happen.