How to Stop Spending Money
Some days, it may feel like your spending is out of control. You look at your bank account or empty wallet and wonder, Where did all my money go? But how do you stop spending money when the temptation to spend is all around?
Maybe you’ve asked yourself that same question. If you’ve ever gotten near the end of the month and thought, Welp—that paycheck didn’t last as long as I needed it to, here are 25 ways to stop spending money on food, clothes, household goods, and all those nonessentials that feel pretty essential in the moment.
How to Stop Spending Money on Food
1. Meal plan.
How does meal planning help you stop spending money? Making an intentional plan for food helps you avoid all those, “Oh no, what’s for dinner?” trips to the drive-thru.
Set up a weekly plan for each meal. This doesn’t mean you’ll cook all day every day. It means you’ll always have stuff on hand for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time.
Just like a budget tells your money what to do, a meal plan tells your food what to do. When you make a meal plan, you know what you’ll be eating, so you know what to buy. That means you spend less and waste less!
2. Make a grocery list.
As you’re planning, begin creating a grocery list. Write out all the stuff you need to make those meal plans happen. Look through your pantry, fridge and freezer as you do. This keeps you from spending money on something you already have. Then—and this is key—don’t buy things that aren’t on your list. This isn’t improv class. Stick to the script.
3. Eat leftovers.
Once you make a meal, don’t let what’s left after dinner die a slow and moldy death in a Tupperware coffin in your fridge. That wastes food and money. Put that food to good use. Enjoy it for lunch the next day or put a leftovers night on the meal plan calendar for the week. This keeps you from buying new meals every mealtime, and it’s a super easy way to stop spending money.
4. Brown-bag your lunch.
Speaking of lunches—stop your daily restaurant routine. Stop giving your dollars to the vending machine or office snack shop throughout the day. Remember how we said you should meal plan for snacks too? Keep some midday munchies at your desk and bring your lunch to work most days of the week. It’s okay to eat out some—if it’s in the budget. But bringing in leftovers or brown-bagging a sandwich, fruit and pretzels like your middle school days is a wonderful way to stop spending so much money eating out.
5. Order your groceries online.
When you order your groceries online, you can track the total cost as you go. Then if you’re over budget, you can delete items from your virtual cart before you check out. You don’t have to walk through the grocery store with a calculator in hand to make sure you aren’t shocked at the register. You’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying before you complete the order, and you’re far less likely to impulse buy that family-size bag of sour gummy worms.
How to Stop Spending Money on Clothes
1. Shop your closet.
To stop spending money on clothing, go on a shopping spree. Wait, what? Yup—in your own closest. You’ve probably got great pieces in there just gathering dust in a drawer or on a hanger. Remember them. And when you do, you’ll realize you have more outfit possibilities than you ever knew—literally within your reach.
Do some internet or Pinterest searching to see how you can use what you already have to make your wardrobe go even further for you.
2. Only buy pieces that extend your wardrobe.
If you do buy something new (or used!), get a piece that helps you make a new outfit out of things you already own. Don’t buy something that needs even more to make it useful.
For example, a denim jacket can be used in multiple ways with things you probably already have. Put it over a dress. Pair it with your favorite graphic tee. This is a piece that makes new outfits out of old ones. That’s better spending.
3. Purchase clothing you need. Avoid the pieces you just want.
If your socks are falling apart, by all means, get new socks. When you need certain clothing items, purchase those. But if you want to stop overspending on clothes, show some willpower and don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
4. Go for quality clothing items that will last.
When you buy clothes, think long term. Clothing that lasts longer is better for your budget, and it can help cut down on the clothing waste that’s become common in our get-it-then-ditch-it society. Sometimes cheaper isn’t worth it in the long run. Stop spending money on cheap quantity. Invest in quality.
5. Set a monthly spending limit for clothes shopping.
The best way slow down clothing spending is to create a budget line for clothes. Set a spending limit and don’t go over it. That’s real adulting. You can spend money on clothing—but only if you’ve put it in your money plan, aka budget.
How to Stop Spending Money on Household Goods
1. Switch to reusable containers.
Do you hear that? It’s the environment thanking you for the next couple tips.
Instead of spending money on all those plastic baggies that go from the pantry to the lunchbox to the garbage, get some reusable containers. Yes, this is an initial investment. But in the end, you won’t have to keep spending money on all that plastic pre-trash. Oh yeah.
2. Use washable towels instead of paper towels.
You probably already have hand towels tucked in a drawer or cabinet somewhere. If not, ask your mom to buy or crochet you some for Christmas. Or hit up your local dollar store. These things aren’t expensive, and using them instead of a new paper towel sheet every time means fewer trips to the store and to the dumpster.
3. Buy in bulk.
Wait. How does buying more help you spend less? Well, first of all, buying in bulk doesn’t always save you money. But it often does. Check out those price-per-ounce figures. If buying 40 rolls of toilet paper is cheaper by the unit, then you’ll spend less not only on the product but also on trips to the store (saving gas and another possibility of splurging on one of those family-size bags of sour gummy worms).
4. Use rechargeable batteries.
Batteries. Can’t game without them.
But really—those controllers are always dying. Buy enough rechargeable batteries so you always have backups when they need charging. Then you don’t have to miss a single minute of racing your kids video game.
5. Make your own things around the house.
Don’t spend money on things you can make yourself. This is the day of the DIY. Pinterest, YouTube and social media are full of tutorials on how to make your own slime, soaps, drapes, household cleaners, mouthwash, dog food, laundry detergent, ant killer, face scrubs—you get the idea. The list is longer than this blog. For a small investment in ingredients, you can save big in the long run and stop spending money on a lot of the daily essentials.
How to Stop Spending Money on Unnecessary Items
1. Discover your spending triggers.
If you’re a natural spender, or if you find yourself spending more during certain key moments in life, figure out what those triggers are. Does stress, your mood or boredom tempt you to spend? Do you see others with something and want to keep up? Do you mindlessly online shop from apps on your phone? Do you buy things just because they’re a good deal or on sale? (Pro tip: If you don’t need it, then it’s not a good deal. No matter what percent off it is.)
When you figure out your spending triggers, you can work to stop them. Maybe delete a couple of those apps off your phone. Find a healthier go-to for stress—like yoga, a good book or a conversation with a friend.
And if you feel the need to keep up with others, remember that they’re probably looking at you and wishing they had something you own. Also, when you play the comparison game, nobody wins.
2. Avoid temptation: Don’t go shopping.
The best way to stop spending is to stay away from situations that make you want to spend—like the stores that carry your favorite things to buy. Spend less time in stores. Don’t go shopping without a reason. Stick to your list when you’re getting groceries. These tips are golden and will stop nonessential spending in its tracks.
3. Go on a short-term spending freeze.
If you want to challenge yourself, go on a spending freeze. This can mean taking a “no spending day” challenge or jumping into a “nothing but the essentials” week—or month! But if you decide to spend no money at all for an entire day, please check your gas tank first. (That’s another pro tip! No one wants you stranded on the side of the road.)
Spending freezes aren’t for everyone, but they’re a great way to literally stop spending money for a while. They can also help you become more aware of your spending tendencies and more thankful for the stuff you already have.
4. Make your own coffee.
If you stop by the local coffee shop every morning for your cup of joe, you’re spending a whole lot of money on your caffeine fix. We won’t suggest you stop drinking coffee. We wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But we do suggest you become your own barista. Making your own coffee means less time in the drive-thru and more time counting all the money you’re saving.
5. Focus on being content rather than trying to impress others.
Again, if you want to stop spending money on nonessentials, the place to start is in your heart. Spend time this week working on being more content—thinking more about what you have and less about what you don’t.
Remember: You don’t have anyone to impress but yourself. And what better way to impress yourself than by proving you can show self-control in your spending and get closer, every day, to your money goals—to the huge future dreams that mean a lot more than the little impressions you might make on social media to a bunch of people you may not even know.
You’re better than that. You’re bolder than that. And your dreams are bigger than that.
How to Stop Spending Money
1. Create a budget.
If you want to stop spending money, the first step is to make a plan for where your money should go. That’s called a budget. Now, we know a lot of people hate the word budget. It sounds restrictive. It sounds boring. It sounds difficult.
Truth is, it doesn’t have to be any of those things! A budget actually gives you freedom because you’ll start telling your money you’re the one in charge. And budgeting doesn’t have to be boring or hard. With the EveryDollar app, you can start budgeting in minutes and keep up with your spending on the go.
2. Track your spending.
So, you want to stop spending money. You’ve got your budget set. But there’s one more thing we have to mention before moving on: Throughout the month, you’ll need to track your spending. This shows you where your money is actually going.
For example, let’s say you budgeted $400 for groceries, but as you track all those grocery store receipts, you find out you actually spent $600. Either you’ve got to cut back, or you’ve got to face the truth that $600 is what your family needs each month for this budget line. Either way, watching where and how you spend your money is how you start spending it well!
If it seems super time-consuming to track your spending through the week, try out Ramsey+. You’ll get all the premium features of EveryDollar—including bank sync, which streams your transactions straight into your budget. You just drag and drop them into the right budget line. Quick. Easy. Accurate. Win. Win. Win.
3. Set money goals.
To get your mind in the space of not overspending, you need to set money goals. These will help you prioritize your spending now so you can get where you want to be later. Spending money isn’t bad when it’s planned for. And money goals help us put all those plans into a bigger perspective.
When you have goals for the future, you’re going to think twice about spending money in the present.
4. Don’t use credit cards.
Credit cards give you a false sense of what you can afford. They encourage overspending because you’re making today’s purchase tomorrow’s problem. Stop using credit cards. Start paying with cash or debit—which uses money you actually have in your bank account.
You’ll be more mindful of your spending when you can actually see your bank account or cash stack shrink.
5. Give every dollar a job.
Don’t leave money sitting around without anything to do. An unbudgeted dollar gets spent mindlessly. And you don’t have time for mindless spending because you’re on a mission to get things done with your money. You’re saving more and spending less. You’re making progress on your money goals because you mean business.
Business. Job. All these words are intentional. If you want your money to work for you, you’ve got to give every single dollar a job.
How do you do that? Go back to our favorite word: budget. It’s the very best way to get your spending under control—your control. You see, budgeting reveals your spending patterns—and helps you change those patterns when they don’t line up with your goals.
Try out the premium version of the EveryDollar budgeting tool with a free trial to Ramsey+. You’ll get automatic bank transactions, which makes tracking your spending easy and accurate. And you’ll get custom budget reports, so you can see how your money habits line up with your money goals. With Ramsey+, you can start spending less, saving more, and getting your money to work as hard as you do.