8 Ways to Stop Spending — Today

by Mikey Rox on 4 June 2013 5 comments

As Americans we’re conditioned to spend money from the time we’re wee boys and girls. The power of capitalism makes us want, want, want, so that by the time we’re barely legal adults, we’re already in debt. That’s what happened to me. As soon as I turned 18, I had creditors ringing my phone off the hook asking if I’d like a credit card. A credit card, you ask? You mean one of those beautiful, shiny pieces of plastic that’ll allow me to buy whatever I want without paying for it?! Yes, please. Sign me up for two!

You can probably guess how that went down. Three months later the cards were maxed out, and I had creditors ringing my phone off the hook for a different reason. After years of avoiding their persistence while continuing to rack up late fees, I finally settled my bills and made the difficult decision to stop spending money. (See also: 5 Dead Simple Reasons Why People Are Frugal)

That’s not entirely true, of course. I have to spend money, but I do spend it much differently these days. Specifically, I don’t spend money I don’t have. I pay my bills on time, and my sole credit card is for emergencies only. Those two self-imposed rules have helped me get my finances back on track over the past few years, and they can help you, too.

If you’re drowning in debt or just want to learn how to cut back, consider these helpful tips on how to stop spending and start climbing out of debt — today.

1. Cut Up Those Credit Cards

First things first — get rid of that glistening temptation that will make you broke and keep you broke for years on end. I’m not one of those personal finance preachers who thinks credit cards are the devil, mind you, but in the wrong hands they can certainly wreak havoc. If you lack the self-control to put the credit cards in a locked safe or other hiding place only to use them for dire situations, cut them up all together. Out of sight, out of mind is the general consensus. But even better is the fact that you can’t abuse something you don’t have to begin with.

2. Pay Your Bills Immediately

Paying your bills as soon as they arrive is a good tactic for curbing your spending because you won’t have as much money left when all is said and done. Get those bills out of the way as soon as possible, and you won’t be compelled to hit up the bar or shop for new kicks when you see how little is left over.

3. Set Savings Goals

When you set savings goals, you’ll have something toward which to work. It’s not enough, however, to set a dollar amount to put in your savings account each week. Rather, set a monetary goal that’s attached to something tangible that will benefit you, like college courses, a car, or a house. If you really want to improve your life with these mega purchases, you’ll be less likely to spend money like it’s going out of style.

4. Leave Your Debit Card at Home

It’s difficult for me to leave home without my debit card because it’s kind of a security blanket, but when that card is in my pocket, I use it. I use it for everything, including purchases less than a dollar. I think those purchases are insignificant but too many can add up quickly. So when I really need to cut back, I leave the debit card at home, so I’m not tempted to swipe on impulse.

Which leads me to the next tip…

5. Only Carry a Small Amount of Cash for Emergencies

I don’t recommend that you leave the house without any access to money, so as a compromise carry a small amount of cash on you for emergencies. The psychology of spending cash will almost always make you spend less (but hopefully none at all) because you can actually see the real dollars leaving your hand opposed to the invisible electronic funds from a debit card.

6. Don’t Tempt Yourself With Sales

If you’re on a spending freeze, stay away from sales at all costs. You may think you’re saving money, but often times the exact opposite is true. When I go shopping, for example, I tend to go overboard at a sale because the deals are just so good. If I purchased something at the full retail price, however, I’m much less likely to spend anymore. That one purchase with a hefty price tag will scare me away from most everything else. Conversely, the low prices at sales actually feed my desire to get more at rock bottom prices, which I don’t have to tell you rack up quickly.

7. Busy Yourself With Things That Don’t Cost Money

Stop spending money today by staying away from anything that costs money. Simple as that, really. Engage in free activities, clean the house, bury yourself in work, and otherwise participate in something productive that keeps your mind off your wallet and occupied on a positive alternative to spending cash.

8. Find a Support Group

If you find that you’re having trouble not spending money, you may have a serious problem — and you’re not alone. Which I why I suggest finding a support group for over spenders so you can get that problem under control before it takes over your life. It can happen, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s not a road you want to go down if you can help it.

Have more tips on how to stop spending money today? Let me know in the comments below.

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Lisa

Grocery shop on a set schedule- once a week or every two weeks- with no food purchases in between. Also use a list and stick to it. No exceptions. Curb impulse spending by steering clear of stores and shopping centers. Set mandatory "waiting periods" before making any purchase. During the wait, ask yourself if the item is something you truly need or if you could improvise or borrow the item from a friend. Often you'll find other ways to fill the need without buying anything new.

Guest's picture

Not sure if I would agree with cutting up your credit cards completely. I have 2 and I use them for their reward programs. I pay the balance off in full every month, so there is no debt accumulation. They can also be helpful when building up your credit (again, paying off the balance in full every month).

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Guest

Great advice, only thing I would not agree with is cutting up a credit card if you are trying to build credit, by having no credit card you sacrifice your good credit standing and it can bring your credit scores down. I would suggest keeping one card with a low available credit, use it for either gas and/or groceries and make sure to pay it off every month. If it has any perks such as cash back, travel pts, etc then you are also getting benefits from doing this. But NO credit cards will stop and/or delay getting a loan in the future.

Guest's picture

I agree with Anton and the guest about on the point about keeping credit cards to build credit. It's more important to learn how to use credit cards correctly and manage payments (eg #2). And to add on to #2, if you can't pay them immediately, set a specific date each month where you make your payment(s) - make it a habit and mark it down on a calendar.

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cherfer

I don't know why people always think you will spend less if you have cash. I spend less with my debit card because I know I have to track it. If I have cash, I blow it and don't care. So I disagree with that mentality completely.