Recently I have had people ask how they can keep from spending. It’s hard to say no to yourself when the urge to spend strikes. Here are 20 tips to stop spending:

  1. Don’t shop for fun. I don’t go on big outlet mall trips and when I am low on cash I stay away from Barnes and Noble. Make a list of fun things you can do for free or low cost and post it. Keep away from places you tend to spend money.
  2. Play with getting your needs met. Get enough rest, fun, and quiet time so you don’t need shopping to satisfy you.
  3. Have at least one goal – financial or otherwise that you can focus time and resources. One of my readers wants to visit her grandchildren more. Remembering that goal can keep her from overspending.
  4. Print out the Wallet Buddy PDF from New Dream, which has questions to ask before buying. I have a list of questions wrapped around my debit card, but this looks neater.
  5. Use cash. It’s more painful to watch it go out from your fingers.
  6. Get out a week’s worth of money from the ATM. $20 here, $20 there doesn’t seem like much. But, take it out all at once and it does.
  7. Input your spending into Quicken personal finance software, Mint.com or look at your checkbook or bank website every other day so you know exactly how much you have.
  8. Pay bills before the weekend eats up money for entertainment.
  9. Think of yourself as rich – hot water, a place to live, access to the internet makes you richer than most of the world. Volunteer in a homeless shelter or help rebuild homes for a week. Quit comparing yourself to the wealthiest 1% of people.
  10. Always use a shopping list.
  11. Wait at least a day before you buy expensive, impulse purchases. Most likely you will find it is not worth a second trip out. Some people like to wait 30 days.
  12. If you have trouble with auction sites or online catalogs, block the addresses using a blocking software like Block Web Site Buddy 2.0.
  13. Keep track of your spending for a week to see what your spending holes are – maybe magazines, coffee, dining out, home accessories, or books. Each week plan to spend a little less on those items.
  14. Remind yourself that if you are buying on credit it is probably not a necessity. If it is, bigger actions are needed, like moving to a smaller house or selling a vehicle or bulking up your savings.
  15. Keep your credit cards on ice in the freezer, in a drawer or locked up.
  16. Look at your reactions to the people around you. If you are jealous or envious, ask yourself why. Something may be missing in your own life – but trust me, it’s not stuff.
  17. Remember, the thrill is in the hunt of finding the "perfect" thing. Once you buy it, the thrill is gone. Try new games – "Can I make it through the checkout line without buying that magazine?" "How little can I spend today at the grocery store?" "Can I find something more creative to do with my friends besides go out to eat?"
  18. Read Can Money Buy Happiness? from Money Magazine. Once you have the basics, more things and more money doesn’t make you happier. In some cases it can make you less happy.
  19. Talk with frugal people or visit frugal blogs. Many people are as happy with the challenge of spending as little as possible as others are who love to blow all their money.
  20. Join me this May as I do another Spending Fast. The goal is to only buy the necessities for the month.

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44 comments

  • Alan

    I consider the idea of paying bills as an important task and must be kept essencial. It is indeed good to pay bills before the week ends. It’s even better to pay the bills once you have the necessary amount to pay it.

  • Fran

    Great tips. I usually don’t bring too much money with me. Aside from the reason that i wiil not be able to spend too much than what I have, It’s also a good precaution for muggers.

  • Cindy M

    I like number 9 on your list. The older I get, the more I realize this is so true, that I have it made and am “rich.” I think in this regard that it helps that I seem to want less and less and really don’t have the desire to shop so much, and when I do, it’s probably going to be at a thrift store. Now on my days off I’m more into staying around the house or puttering in the yard, it’s very satisfying. If I’m not too tired, I even cook myself a great meal. Or if I have any energy left after that and think I just have to buy something, instead of hopping in the car, I make myself walk to a close-by Walmart and Dollar General and make do with what’s there. I don’t spend much and the walk is great. I make great use of my local library and reserve things on line at home; I just won’t pay to rent movies, seldom buy a book and don’t even take the local paper anymore; I pick up local free city publications at the library also. I haven’t had cable TV for years and sure don’t miss it. I cut my own hair and actually get more compliments than I ever did when I paid to have it done. I work from my home in the evenings and have my days free to keep an eye on my mom and grandnephews. I socialize with folks from my church; this is very satisfying and we learn so much where I go to church. I love the outdoors and having my days free. We are SO fortunate in this country to have so many choices as to what to do with our spare time, and there is so much you can do.

  • Kathy S

    I really like #9. We don’t realize how much we have. Not just material things. Because those are just things that we could live without and most of us that practice the simple know this already. I live in the county and I love the free fresh air, I love the free walks through our woods with my dog along side of me, I love when the sun comes up I can see a faint silhoutte of my horses, I love sitting outside with a good book, I am thankful for the house I live in and the food on the table and for the 5 grandchildren that bring laughter and love to my home…what else could I possibly want?

  • logoscoaching

    some great tips Beth, I especially like #10 and #19. Thanks for reminding me of the many aspects of the power we all have when it comes to spending our money

  • Eleven Ways to Cut Your Spending

    Eleven ways to cut your spending…

    Recessions are a death warrant for the dollar. Each one causes the dollar to shrink more and more. The following are ways you can stretch that dollar to make it go further. You’ll utilize some of these ideas and others you’ll shake your finger no at….

  • Amanda

    Im 12. I really want to save up for a new computer. Right now, I have a Toshiba, but I want an Apple Macintosh laptop. Im very determined. But, I cannot stop going into town and buying stuff! Its like an after school ADDICTION to me and my friends. I can’t stop. If I get all A’s on my report card, I will get $500 from my dad each quater. I know i should have started getting extra credit already since the end of the quater is a week away. I am very, very, very, determined to get a Mac. But, this shopaholic problem is stopping me. On Christmas, in all of the money i got, including what I already had was about $500 which, if i saved it, it would have helped me big time. BUT I SPENT IT! I have no way of getting a job since I am only 12. I need some tips to help me EARN the money and SAVE the money. Next time i get money, I’ll try to keep it in my bank account. But for now…any tips? Please Help.

  • caleb

    I’m trying to save at the moment and googled tips and stumbled upon this blog. I printed out the wallet buddy and will be putting it to use this evening when I go to work. I spend the majority of my check on fast food. Hopefully this will improve soon.

  • Lisa Rose

    Who, what, where, when, how??? I ask myself these questions before making a purchase now. It used to be my only prerequisites for buying something were: Do I like it and is it cute. Now I ask myself who is it for, what will I do with it, where will I put/use/wear it, when will I use/wear it? How was this item/s benefitting to our family? How many hours did it take to earn the money to pay for them. Is it worth it???

  • Mike

    I would have no trouble not spending money, only problem is that my wife doesn’t have the same attitude. She visits 2 grocery shops every day and the butcher as well. She also smokes, I did a quick calculation to see what % of our yearly income she spends on cigarettes and grocery shopping it worked out at almost 82%. I had savings up to last year but that’s all gone now it kept things going but if she keeps this up we are heading for trouble. I explained this to her last year as I wanted to budget our spending I suggested tracking her spending for two weeks to see where the money was going and where we could make savings. The result was total denial from her and sulking for days after. I told her that one trip to the shop a week to get the groceries that we need would save a fortune and keep our finances on track. On comparing our grocery bills to others of the same family size I was told that we are spending 42% above the average and that is before the cigarettes. Here we are in the third month of the new year and she is still keeping up her old shopping habits. The only solution that I can think of now is to take over the grocery shopping myself or else only give her a set amount of money in cash every week and see how she can stretch it if it runs out before the end of the week it will mean a few days of hunger but it might make her think twice about what she spends the money on.

  • Colleen

    Great advice! I am staring a spending freeze on 03/15/13 and I am both scared but very excited. It will feel good to pay off debt and put money in savings, but not so excited to give up my shopping and happy hours. I really like #5. I hate carrying around change!

  • Kristi

    If magazines are you weakness (they are one of mine), you can quickly earn points and redeem for magazines on recyclebank. And, not just cruddy magazines, either. Magazines like Veranda, Real Simple, Travel and Leisure and there are some cooking and ‘novelty’ magazines like InStyle and stuff like that, too. They usually have someone once a month where you can load up quickly on points and you can do some daily recycle pledge, but I don’t unless I’m visiting the site to get a coupon or something (tuna, q-tips, and carrot juice in the past). Free magazines are a nice perk. :) I get 25 points when others join, but I’m not hurting for points and won’t feel slighted if you don’t use my link.
    https://rcycle.it/2k2wm

  • Kristi

    If magazines are your weakness (they are one of mine), you can quickly earn points and redeem for magazines on recyclebank. And, not just cruddy magazines, either. Magazines like Veranda, Real Simple, Travel and Leisure and there are some cooking and ‘novelty’ magazines like InStyle and stuff like that, too. They usually have someone once a month where you can load up quickly on points and you can do some daily recycle pledge, but I don’t unless I’m visiting the site to get a coupon or something (tuna, q-tips, and carrot juice in the past). Free magazines are a nice perk. :) I get 25 points when others join, but I’m not hurting for points and won’t feel slighted if you don’t use my link.
    https://rcycle.it/2k2wm

  • Kristi

    If magazines are your weakness (they are one of mine), you can quickly earn points and redeem for magazines on recyclebank. And, not just cruddy magazines, either. Magazines like Veranda, Real Simple, Travel and Leisure and there are some cooking and ‘novelty’ magazines like InStyle and stuff like that, too. They usually have something once a month where you can load up quickly on points and you can do some daily recycle pledge, but I don’t unless I’m visiting the site to get a coupon or something (tuna, q-tips, and carrot juice in the past). Free magazines are a nice perk. :) I get 25 points when others join, but I’m not hurting for points and won’t feel slighted if you don’t use my link.
    https://rcycle.it/2k2wm

  • Sheena Fletcher

    I live in Pittsburgh, and from September to November there is a thing called Radical Days. Being a single mom of 2 kids who are going to be 5 and 2, we are on a very tight budget since I don’t make that much at my job. If i’m off of work ill see what is on the Radical day list for that day and ill take my kids to the place(s). With Radical Days its free admission to certain places on certain days and all I have to pay is $5 to park my car. Even with the Radical Days I’ll pack a lunch for the kids and I and extra for when my mom comes and we will all load in the car go to where ever place has the free admission for the day. Even though we have to pay to park I rather pay the $5 to get a parking spot then have to pay like $20 per person to get into the place. In September of last year we ended up going to the children’s museum and the Carnegie science center in one day and we only paid $10 to park and enjoy a full days worth of entertainment. A couple weeks later we ended up taking the kids the aviary in which we got to park for free and was able to go look at the different birds for free. Even in my area if you have a access card you can get 4 people into different places for only $1 per person and the price of parking.

  • Brian_87!

    Understand the basic difference between what you ‘want’ and ‘need’. Need comes from necessity and want is a part of desire. I think this is the biggest lesson of life that has to be learned. Learn how to differentiating between them and spending will be automatically controlled. Thanks for sharing such a thought provoking article, Great wisdom for help :)

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