Not all “shopaholics” load their carts with $600 Gucci bags, $200 Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, and $80 Chanel perfumes. It’s the little things that burn a hole straight through your savings account.
A two-item Target run that turns into a $200 spending spree.
Ordering DoorDash delivery to “spoil” yourself after a long workday.
Plopping things into a cart when you see your favorite four-letter word: Sale.
How do you rebuild your bank account and finally get your spending under control? Here are ten ideas to try to stop spending money.
When In Doubt, Use Cash
Whipping out that Mastercard to cover the tab is as American as hotdogs, football, and Uncle Sam. Today, credit and debit cards are the preferred spending method for some 80% of people.
Insert the chip. Wait for the beep. And you’re out of the store in record time.
It’s also the reason your jaw hits the floor when you receive your monthly credit card bill in the mail.
Research shows that parting with a wad of cash at the register helps put your impulsive spending into perspective. After you burn through $200 in three days and become a frequent flyer at the ATM, it can also be psychologically painful!
The cash route will leave you asking, “Do I really need to splurge on that?” So, when in doubt, use cash!
Create a Monthly Budget
The average American earns $31,133/year. But when payday finally arrives and your banking app greets you with a “$1,197 deposit” notification, you feel like a millionaire!
You “treat yo’ self” to a pedicure and champagne in pure Tom Haverford fashion, wasting your paycheck before the week even ends.
Instead, create a monthly budget that abides by the 50/30/20 rule:
- 50% for the necessities (rent, water, clothes, food)
- 20% goes directly to savings
- 30% is a free-for-all
After squaring your bills away and padding your savings account, the rest gives you the freedom to splurge. But never before that.
Opt for Reusable Household Goods
When you’re living from paycheck to paycheck like 78% of American workers, you become a cost-cutting master. You cancel the $150 cable subscription you rarely use, bike instead of drive, and buy those snack goodies in bulk.
But did you know that you could fluff your bank account even further if you slashed the necessities? The answer is “reusable,” and a few minor household changes can save you hundreds of dollars a year!
For example, a $9 reusable water bottle will pay itself off after 50 refills. So stock up on reusable sandwich bags instead of foil, glassware instead of styrofoam, and rechargeable batteries.
Your wallet — and Mother Nature — will thank you!
Cancel Subscriptions You Rarely Use
Canceling that $8.99/month Netflix membership never crossed your mind. Even if yanking Friends from the platform triggered severe withdrawal symptoms for you. But did you know that Americans waste some $348 each year on unused subscriptions?
To give you a taste for where those wasted Benjamins are going (each month):
- Netflix: $12.99 (premium)
- Amazon Prime: $12.99
- Hulu: $11.99
- Spotify: $9.99
- Doordash: $9.99
- Grubhub: $9.99
Pro tip: Download Truebill and link it to your financial accounts. With this nifty tool in your pocket, you can better track those auto subscription payments that you may have forgotten about — a problem 84% of us face!
Look for Cost Savings Whenever Possible
We’re all snobs in our own right. For example, you probably have a friend who refuses to sip anything other than premium coffee. Or a high-class aunt who insists on hiring a caterer for a casual Thanksgiving get-together.
But how much is your expensive taste costing you at the ATM?
Before you mindlessly toss products into your cart and bolt to the register, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” Do you need to spend $5 on a pizza delivery when you can pick it up for free? Can you cook that homemade lasagna with something other than gourmet cheese?
Most times, you’re paying for the brand name. So, check out this list of items that are usually just as good as the high-end names, even if bought generic.
Track Your Spending Habits
Piggybacking off the previous credit card issue, the Mint app (from Intuit) is a financial planning crash course. It offers much-needed — albeit terrifying — reality checks!
Link Mint to your bank account and credit cards to learn:
- Where your hard-earned cash winds up (ex: dining vs. entertainment)
- Whether you’re in the green or red by month’s end
- How much you should spend each month (based on wages)
- Where your financial health stands
Join the 10 million other Mint users in discovering how to budget and build smarter spending habits.
Buy Items In Bulk
That first Costco visit is like a child stepping foot in a candy store. Except, it’s not candy canes or chocolate swirls igniting that euphoria; it’s the savings! It’s hard to walk away empty-handed when you can buy 60 granola bars for less than $10.
When buying non-perishables (foods and supplies that don’t expire anytime soon), don’t be afraid to buy bulk. Even saving $0.02 per bar, diaper, or cup will add up by December 31st, assuming none go to waste.
A word to the wise: Do the research and compare prices. If a product has the same unit price at Walmart or Target (just fewer per box), you’re not saving!
Learn About Your Spending Triggers
Some folks are true shopaholics. Anytime there’s a flashy red “SALE” sign or vintage decor in sight, there’s no escaping without flinging out the Visa.
Think back to what happens before (or as) you spend the most.
Are you splurging with your best friend by your side? Does a high-pressure sales meeting land you on Amazon 20 minutes later? Do you view payday as permission to splurge?
- Leave your wallet at home when your “bad influence” pal picks you up.
- Go for a mindfulness walk when the stress peaks.
- Splurge on payday … but only after you care for the necessities first.
Identify your triggers first. Then, come up with a coping plan to overcome your spending addiction before it gets too out of control.
Refuse to Take On New Debts
If you get caught up in the seemingly endless debt cycle, welcome to the club! Find a seat anywhere between 80% of your fellow Americans, who boast the same “badge of honor.”
One of the best ways to “undo” your financial woes is not spending money you don’t have.
Don’t open a new credit card (no matter what enticing bonus offers the bank lumps in — like a free Netflix subscription for a year). And, don’t finance a luxury SUV if your current car is still running smoothly.
Not only will this slash your monthly payments, but it’ll also keep more in your pocket by avoiding interest fees.
Take a Shopping List With You
For every extra minute you wander that Hobby Lobby maze, you almost guarantee that you’ll wind up carrying a basket stuffed with impulse buys. Those shopping trips shouldn’t be a free-for-all!
Jot down a list of what you need during the week. And, if you’re only planning to pick up two items, grab a basket instead of a cart!
The easy answer? “Just stop buying things.”
But when 51% of Millenials and 42% of Generation X admit to not tracking monthly spending, the issue isn’t BOGO sales or Amazon bargains. It’s limited financial literacy.
So, here’s a next-gen spending tip:
Track your budget with cutting-edge financial apps like Truebill and Mint to track your digital spending habits. Also, consider using Acorns to invest loose change in the stock market.
Remember: these habits are challenging to quit cold turkey. Weave one strategy into your lifestyle every few weeks, and watch those zeroes grow.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Copper Beech at Ames to help them with their online marketing.