13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending Money
Even if you know that your spending is out of control, you might not have the strength to break your shopping addiction. However, a spending problem isn't going away on its own. And although you might feel powerless over your addiction, you ultimately control whether you spend. (See also: 7 Bizarre Ways to Stay on Budget That Actually Work)
You're not likely to break your addiction overnight, but these 13 tips can give you power not to spend.
1. Freeze Your Credit Cards, Literally
If you truly want to stop spending, do not carry credit cards in your wallet. Better yet, make your credit cards as inaccessible as possible. Fill a small bowl halfway with water and freeze. Once solid, place your cards in the bowl on the ice (you may need to weigh them down with a nickel), add more water, and freeze again. With your credit cards on ice, you can't swipe your plastic for frivolous purchases.
2. Cancel Retail Emails and Catalogs
Those tempting emails from your favorite retailers do more harm than good. The less information you receive from the retail world, the better off you'll be. Unsubscribe to email blasts advertising discounts and sales; and if you receive mail-order catalogs, ask these retailers to remove your name from their mailing lists.
3. Get Rid of Your Debit Card
Your credit cards might be on ice, but you can still do plenty of damage with a debit card in your wallet. Cut your bank debit card in half. This will stop impulse purchases and alleviate unnecessary trips to the ATM.
4. Do It Yourself
Yes, it's easier to pay someone to do your grunt work. However, everyday conveniences come with a hefty price. If you're trying not to spend money, start doing things yourself. This can include your housekeeping, lawn care, laundry, and anything else you might usually pay other people to do for you. Handling your own chores might cut into your free time, but the payoff is a bigger bank account. (See also: Should You Be Paying Someone Else to Do These 7 Common Chores?)
5. Borrow Instead of Buy
If you need a new … whatever … call some friends to see if you can borrow it. Let's say you're attending a special event, and you don't have anything to wear — a friend might have exactly what you need in his or her closet. Borrow the item for a few hours, and save your cash.
6. Eat Your Pantry
Rather than weekly trips to the grocery store, only shop when you're actually out of food. Plan meals around what's already in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. This approach cuts down on the number of times you visit the grocery store and significantly reduces your grocery bill.
7. Pay Your Bills Before Going Out
If you're meeting up with friends, paying bills or balancing your checkbook before leaving home might motivate you to spend less, or not at all. Sometimes, we forget about our financial state. However, reviewing your money before going out offers a dose of reality, providing the inner strength you need to watch your pennies.
8. Know the Company You Keep
Your friends might be genuinely good people, but their poor financial habits can rub off on you. And if you're trying not to spend money, spending your free time with shopaholics or those who don't care about personal finances doesn't make it easier to achieve your goals. (See also: 11 Ways Your Friends Can Save You Money)
9. Wait at Least a Day Before a Major Purchase
Whenever there's the urge to spend, take a step back and give yourself at least a day to think about the purchase. Sometimes, the excitement of buying something new wears off the second you hit the parking lot.
10. If You Shop, Bring a List
Whether you're grocery shopping or buying necessary items for the home or yourself, always shop with a list, and only buy what's on the list.
11. Look for Freebies
You'd be surprised at the number of freebies you can find scouring the Internet. I put this to the test on Craigslist — there were all types of free stuff, such as jewelry boxes, tube televisions, old furniture, bicycles, and children's toys. You might find exactly what you're looking for without spending a dime.
12. Shift Your Focus
If you're fighting the urge to shop, all you need to do is redirect your focus. Clean out your closet, read a book, go for a walk, or start a project.
13. Reflect on Your Goals
Is there a reason why you're trying not to spend money? Some people stop spending to save up for a house, pay off debt, or build their rainy day fund. Whenever you're tempted to open your wallet, think about your goals and how happy you'll be once you achieve these. Don't let instant gratification derail your plans.
Do you have more smart tactics to institute to avoid spending money? Let us know in the comments below.