If you’re struggling with how to stop spending money, one of the first things to do is take a step back and analyze the situation. You’ll want to look at four major things: what you spend money on, why you spend money, what your spending triggers are, and what you’d rather be doing with that money instead.
Figuring out what you spend money on is probably the easiest step. If you already track spending, take a look at which categories you’ve spent the most on over the past few months. For example, other than our house payment and electric bill, for me it looks like my largest categories are travel, gifts, dining out, and vet bills. If you don’t already track your spending, it’s probably time to start. Meanwhile, you can look over your bank and credit card statements to get an idea of what you’ve been buying.
To figure out how to stop spending money in the areas you’ve identified, the next step is to determine why you’re doing so to begin with. Are they things you love doing? (Travel, giving gifts, and eating out, in my case.) Are they things you’re doing to reach a larger goal? (Spending money on vet bills helps keep our pets healthy.) Are they things you do out of habit or boredom? (Also dining out, in my case. Many people spend money on snacks for those reasons too.)
Next, spend a little time identifying what triggers your spending. Do you pass the coffee shop on the way to work each day and get the urge to stop in? Consider taking another route, or focusing on something else as you near the shop. Do you browse through catalogs you receive in the mail? Ask to be taken off those mailing lists. Cancel email alerts and deal lists, too. Does your mind fill with restaurant names when your family asks what’s happening for dinner? Plan meals ahead of time, or assign a day to each family member for them to be responsible for. Often, identifying your triggers — and then eliminating them — is the part that will help the most when learning how to stop spending money.
Finally, it also helps to identify what you’d rather be doing with the money. Maybe you want to get out of debt, pay off your house, go back to school, or stay home with your kids. Keep your real goals top of mind. Put a picture or a note reminding you of the most important one right in your wallet, and think about it every time you go to spend money. Literally ask yourself if you’d rather spend the money, or if you’d rather reach your goal. If the goal is important to you, chances are you’ll spend a lot less than you had done previously.
(If you believe you may have a spending addiction, seek out professional help.)Posted in Spending Money on 06.27.11 with 11 comments.