How To Stop Spending Money and Control The Urge

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Learning how to save money is hard.

And learning how to control the urge to spend money on anything and everything is even harder!

I’ve been there – you see something you want, you have the money to buy it, so you do!

But then later realize that you didn’t really need it and feel a little (or a lot!) guilty about your purchase…

Sound familiar to you?

Don’t stress – you’re not alone.

I too have struggled with spending money on things I don’t need, and it can be hard to break the habit!

But there are some things you can do to stop spending money and get the urge under control.

No-one’s perfect and I’ll admit that I still sometimes find myself about to splurge on something impulsively.

Don’t beat yourself up if you have a relapse because it happens to the best of us no matter how great we are with money!

There are certain things that can set off impulse spending. Feelings of unhappiness, emptiness, boredom and envy can all lead to expensive splurges.

Why You Need To Have Your Spending Habits Under Control

No doubt there will be times where you will spend your money and treat yourself. Maybe you’ve been working hard and have earnt it, there’s nothing wrong with that.

It becomes a problem when it’s addictive and you no longer have the self-control to stop spending.

Small “harmless” purchases can creep up on you and slowly become a problem.

Before you know it you’ve spent thousands of dollars and have found yourself in deep financial strife.


If you’re pressed for time you can save and pin this blog post here on Pinterest so you can always come back to this list to help you overcome any bad spending habits 🙂

How Can I Bring My Spending Under Control?

No one deserves to feel like sh*t over their financial situation. So let’s look at ways to avoid stressing about money.

In this post we’ll discuss simple but effective ways to stop spending money unnecessarily so you can take control back and reach those money goals.

👉 You may also like to read 5 Things You Can Easily Quit Now To Save Money.

💡QUICK TIP: I like finding clever ways to spend on the things I want without having to dig into savings. One of these ways is by earning free gift cards to spend at my favorite stores.

An example is by taking surveys with Survey Junkie. I can redeem and use free gift cards when money is running low — this is the fastest and easiest way to save on small purchases, like your daily Frappuccino 😜

The above is just one example of how you can spend while saving in exchange for your opinion. They are absolutely free to use, so why not take advantage and take surveys for money?

Why I Used To Overspend

I haven’t always been able to save like I do today.

It’s taken a few steep learning curves to help me save properly and have money for the things I want.

I’ll tell you a little bit about how I discovered why I was spending money unnecessarily.

Thankfully I didn’t go into debt because of bad spending habits but I wasn’t saving much either!

It took me awhile to realize it was deep unhappiness in my job that was causing me to spend so much money. I would spend my paychecks on Friday outings, work lunches, clothes, makeup, new shoes, take out, you name it! Whatever it took to make me feel happy.

But what I was actually doing was looking for quick fixes and instant gratification to make up for hating my job and being at work.

I knew on some level that what I was doing wasn’t going to get me anywhere, but I felt trapped and like there was no way out of my situation.

When I did finally come to my senses and realized why I was spending the way I was, I was able to look at ways to turn my life around.

Once I realized the “why”, I was finally able to stop spending so much on:

  • Expensive lunches and dinners
  • Shoes, clothes, bags and makeup
  • Furniture “upgrades” (there was nothing wrong with my furniture)
  • Shiny new things to hit the shelves

Steps You Can Take To Stop Spending Money

Now I will show you the steps I took to stop spending money and wasting it away on unnecessary things.

Follow these right through to regain control of your finances. You can refer back to them at any time you feel you’ve taken a step back (or ten!) with your spending.

1. UNDERSTAND AND SET YOUR GOALS

It can be tricky when you’re trying to set goals for yourself, without knowing why you’re setting them.

Do you want to stop spending and save money because you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck? Perhaps you want to save for big life events like buying your first house? Or maybe you want to eventually escape your 9 to 5 and need something to fall back on?

As I mentioned above, the main reason I was spending so much is because I was unhappy in my job and felt trapped.

This forced me to find ways to live a more frugal lifestyle so I could build up my savings and work towards achieving financial freedom.

Related post: 10 FREE Things To Do During a No Spend Challenge

2. WORK OUT WHAT CAUSES YOU TO SPEND UNNECESSARILY

There is often a psychological factor when it comes to overspending and impulse buying.

If you’re feeling unhappy in one or more areas of your life, it’s time to dig a bit deeper and work out what sets you off on a spending spree.

Without doing this it’ll be pretty hard to fix or find the right solution when you don’t understand why you overspend.

Maybe you can relate to some or all of the following reasons why people spend more than they can afford:

YOU’RE FEELING BORED

Boredom! Perhaps one of the most common reasons why people overspend is because they’re bored. Or at least they think they are.

I’m sure you’ve been there. Nothing exciting going on, so you decide to go out and see what’s new at the mall or your favorite store. And then, you see it. That pretty dress that would look great on you, or the new phone case that’s just too perfect to pass up.

Suddenly, you feel the urge to spend money even though you know you shouldn’t.

I’ve definitely been guilty of this in the past.

I’ve seen something small and cute that’s on sale, and I’ll convince myself that I need it. But then I’ll get it home and it will end up sitting in a drawer somewhere, forgotten about. It’s such a waste of money!

Not to mention all the frightful stories out there of people who have ended up drowning in debt because they couldn’t resist buying things they didn’t need.

So next time you’re feeling the urge to spend because you’re bored, think twice. It’ll save you a lot of heartache in the long run!


“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving” — Warren Buffett

YOU’RE COMPENSATING FOR SOMETHING ELSE

A lot of the time, bad spending habits come from trying to make up for something else.

Perhaps your family didn’t have a lot of money growing up so you want to make up for the things you couldn’t have as a child.

Maybe you had a bad day, feel like crap and want to forget about it so you have a night out with the girls. Your shout! Oops…

Or maybe you’re feeling stressed, worried or anxious about life and find that buying things gives you a little piece of happiness for a short while.

It’s a temporary distraction from what’s truly going on.

YOU’RE TRYING TO BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE (WHO SEEM TO HAVE IT ALL)

Sometimes people do this without even being aware of it.

We strive to have what our peers have and we try to “keep up with the Joneses” as the saying goes.

Someone you know buys a flash new car, sends their kid to a fancy school, raves to you about their next vacation to Paris. So you spend money you don’t have to try and keep up and make it seem like you can afford these things too.

Only to fall deeper in debt leading to major financial trouble.

YOU FEEL A HIGH FROM GETTING NEW THINGS

Isn’t it funny that we humans get such a rush when we get new things, and can forget about them just a week or two later?

Of course this isn’t always the case and I know that for me there are things I own that I’m proud of and will never take for granted.

But sometimes this “high” that comes from getting new purchases can become addictive, just like a drug!

Sadly though, this feeling doesn’t last and can turn into a vicious cycle, eventually costing you every last cent you own.

YOU’RE SPENDING MONEY TO GAIN SELF-CONFIDENCE

When I first started working straight out of college, I was quite a lot younger than my colleagues.

Seeing people I worked with dressing nicely, looking the part in the corporate world, young me wanted the same! So I would go out and buy a new pair of heels and fancy outfits to try and fit in.

But even many years later I was still buying new shoes, clothes, makeup and blowing my paycheck on a lot of stuff I didn’t need!

I realized this was coming from a place of lacking confidence and wanting to look, think and act like everyone else. Which was only doing harm and no good!

YOU’RE SEEKING INSTANT GRATIFICATION

In this day and age we can pretty much have things at the click of our fingers.

We can just pick up our smart devices and tap away to get things to us FAST. It’s convenience like we’ve never known it before.

But with all this convenience it does requires us to have more self control. It’s important to be aware and resist the urge to buy something just because it’s there and available without much waiting.

Have you ever been excited about a purchase you thought would be life changing, only to forget about it a week later? I’m sure you know what I mean. The initial feeling of getting something new is exciting, but wears off pretty quickly. Do this over and over again and it becomes problematic!

Next minute you’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years that could have gone into somewhere like your retirement fund.

3. PLAN OF ATTACK

Once you become familiar with what causes you to spend unnecessarily, it’s time to go in with a plan of attack.

Here is how to stop spending money and control the urge.

ANALYZE YOUR SPENDING HABITS

It’s easy to spend money you don’t have when you’re living paycheck to paycheck and you just don’t seem to have enough money to cover all of your expenses.

But spending habits are often the root of the problem.

If you want to stop overspending, you need to take a good hard look at your spending patterns and see where you can make some changes.

One way to do this is to analyze all of your past spending. This includes everything from your bank and credit card statements to receipts from cash transactions.

When you see all of your spending laid out in front of you, it’ll be a real eye-opener!

You may be surprised to see how much you’re actually spending in certain areas. For example, my husband and I were spending waaaay too much on food, wasting thousands of dollars a year!

Once we gained a better understanding of where our money was going, we could actually start making changes to our spending habits.


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Related post: 12 Lessons I learned During a No Spend Challenge (#11 May Shock You!) 😲

SET YOURSELF A REALISTIC BUDGET

Now it’s time to set a budget that’s suitable for your circumstances.

First you need to work out your needs vs wants.

Write down your needs like housing costs, essential food items, clothes, utility bills etc.

Once you’ve completed this step, now you need to allocate money to set aside for wants. Make sure you are able to afford what you put down in this area. Life is for living and you should enjoy it, but not in a way that will get you into money trouble!

While you’re working out which penny should go where, it’s worth considering ways to make extra money on the side too! These can help boost your income and put more back into your savings. There are many opportunities like these jobs here that don’t require any experience to start and that pay really well.

“By definition, saving – for anything – requires us to not get things now so that we can get bigger ones later.” — Jean Chatzky

4. MANAGE YOUR FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

It’s hard not to spend when something is right in front of your face.

And if you’ve got an inbox full of promotional emails from retailers offering you the latest trends and sales, it can be very hard to say no.

To get around this, start by going through and unsubscribing from retailers’ emails, only keeping a select few favorites. This way you won’t be tempted to spend every time they market something to you, especially if you’re feeling vulnerable with sadness, boredom or frustration.

Let me tell you a quick story on how a tiny sale tricked me into massive overspending!

Some time ago a retailer’s email caught my eye with a summer dress I’d been wanting a long time. I spent over $80 after tax at 40% off with no regrets. It was something I really wanted and knew I would get a lot of wear out of. But! I then went on to purchase a few more items for family and friends as gifts.

Looking back over my spending for that season, I saw that I had spent over $1,800 worth of items! This really surprised me and I realized I’d been caught in the sales trap 🙈 I could have bought other gifts for my family and friends that didn’t cost so much and been more careful with my spending.

Moral of the story is that purchases add up really quickly and before you know it you’ve easily spent a couple of grand!

So it’s best to stay away from the temptation and unsubscribe from those enticing sales emails.

5. FIND AN ALTERNATIVE WAY TO MAKE MONEY 💰💰💰

To recap, I had worked out that constantly spending money on food, clothes, makeup and nights out was coming from deep unhappiness within myself and work.

And I soon discovered that I was really trying to fill a void with “stuff”.

To help distract myself from spending money while trying to turn over a new leaf, I picked up transcription and data entry jobs online to keep me busy. These were what I already had real life experience in through my job, so they were the perfect side hustle for me.

Working online eventually led me to starting this blog a couple of years ago without any blogging experience! Something that still surprises me because I had sat in my comfort zone for a long time.

Earning extra money online through side hustles and blogging has played a big hand in helping me to stop spending money on things I don’t need.

I’ve become more productive and focused on the things that truly matter to me! And I’m a much happier person because of it.

Do you want to monetize your skills? 💵

I highly recommend getting started with Fiverr to list any skills you can offer and start earning a part time or even a full time income.

You can search and view their freelance services here to see if any skills listed aligns with your own skillset.

Don’t have the necessary skills? You might want to consider taking one of Fiverr’s affordable courses to put you on the path to selling your skills and earning an online income fast.

6. PRACTICE BEING APPRECIATIVE

And finally, an important lesson for us all is to practice being thankful.

Whenever I catch myself about to spend on impulse, I think about everything I already have and tell myself I don’t need more stuff to fill an empty space within myself.

This is a strategy I know works for me, my family and friends and is so simple yet it tends to easily get forgotten about.

There’s a reason why gratitude journals are so popular these days. Your mental health, happiness and personal finance are all connected. Practising self gratitude daily has been proven to boost your mood and help you to be a happier person.

I know it’s worked well for me. These days I make mindful purchases that I know will improve my life and create positive experiences and memories, rather than purchasing for instant gratification.

Having a cluttered home stresses me out and makes me feel unorganized in every area of my life, not just my household! So in spending less money on things I don’t need, I’ve minimized stress in my life too. Who wants rooms and garages full of stuff they don’t even use??

FINAL SAY ON HOW TO STOP SPENDING MONEY AND CONTROL THE URGE

Spending money when it’s suitable and treating yourself at times is okay. Important even.

From personal experience I have found that the key is having things you like and want in moderation.

Sometimes you end up in bad spending habits without understanding the why. This is when it’s time to work out the real reasons why you’re spending so much money on stuff.

Once you figure out the why, you can start meeting your money goals with a clear understanding of your finances and make healthy choices.

Understanding your spending triggers is crucial in order to break the habit. As I’ve mentioned above, a lot of people tend to spend money when they’re feeling sad, angry, jealous or bored.

For me, I used to overspend whenever I felt stressed and sad at work. I would convince myself that I deserved a new outfit or a night out with friends because I had been working so hard and putting up with my boss.

If you find that you’re constantly needing to spend money in order to feel better, then it’s time to reassess your relationship with money.

Figure out what else brings you joy and start incorporating those things into your life. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel when you don’t have to rely on spending money to make yourself happy.

In summary, follow these steps, in order, to get your spending under control:

– Work out why you’re spending so much money

– Understand what triggers you to spend money

– Analyze your spending habits to see where your money is going

– Set a clear and realistic budget plan

– Manage FOMO and unsubscribe from retailer’s emails

– Find alternative ways to make money to distract yourself from spending (I found a side hustle with transcription and data entry jobs for something else to do)

What are some ways you personally find helpful to stop overspending? Are there certain times throughout the year in which you find yourself overspending? Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below! 🙂

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