Are you struggling with spending too much money? If so, might be wondering how to stop spending money so often.
It happens to everyone. You budget $600 a month for groceries. But then life happens. You’re so busy and tired at the end of the day. So, instead of cooking what’s on your meal plan, you pick up the phone and order takeout again. For the 3rd time this week, but who’s counting, right? You’re just trying to survive. Even though takeout isn’t in your budget 3 times this week, you still do it.
Have you spent too much money recently? When I spend too much money, sometimes the guilt sets in and eats me up. The shame makes it difficult to bounce back financially.
After this realization hits, the next thoughts are somewhere along the lines of “Well, I’ve blown my budget so why bother anymore” or “There’s no recovering from this one. I might as well do what I really want anyway.” This leads you to go even more off track because now you just don’t care.
What if I told you that you don’t have to ditch your budget when you overspend?
What if I told you that you could recover from all of the shopping sprees and take back control of your money?
It’s totally possible! You just have to believe it. The next time you’re beating yourself up for overspending, just remind yourself “I’m learning to be better with money.” This is a much better thought than “I’m terrible with money” or “I suck with money”.
7 Common Signs You’re Spending Too Much Money:
1. You buy things before paying bills.
Instead of paying your bills first and THEN spending money, you go on shopping sprees and order a ton of takeout first. You just start swiping your card on payday without a care in the world before you sit down and write your budget or pay bills first.
2. You can only afford to make the minimum credit card payment.
Do you owe a ton of money on credit cards? If so, you might be struggling to pay it off because you can barely fit all of the minimum payments into your budget.
3. You stop saving money.
You stop paying yourself first. In fact, maybe you think you “can’t afford” to save money. You stop the auto-draft you had set up for payday because you need that extra $50 to pay for your credit card payment you can’t afford to cover.
4. The more money you make, the more money you spend.
Are you guilty of increasing your lifestyle every single time you get a raise instead of saving some of the money or paying down debt? You just add the increase to your spending money instead of stopping to recalculate your budget. Or you add your extra income to the buffer category or whichever category causes you the most headache with overspending.
5. You spend more than you earn.
53% of people in America spend more than they earn. Wow! That’s over half. It’s really easy to do. You spend more this month than you plan which causes you to try and make up for it next month. So you send less to savings, pay your power bill on your credit card, or pull money from savings to cover the shortage. You don’t adjust your spending to stop the cycle.
6. All of your credit cards are maxed out.
You keep using your credit cards to cover your budget instead of adjusting your spending habits. This causes every single one of them to be maxed out and have zero available balance. You can’t even charge a penny on any of them.
7. Your credit card debt exceeds your monthly income.
If you added up all of your credit card balances, it would be more than you make in a month. You owe more than your monthly income.
3 of the Largest & Most Common Overspending Areas
1. Online Shopping
America is a fast-paced society where we’re all about convenience. We live busy lives and we try to optimize our time. One of the ways we do this is by shopping online. The stores make it so easy too!
They remember your debit/credit card numbers, email you coupons, and even offer the “but wait have you seen this too?” things right before checking out. They literally have tons of people working full-time to help them figure out how to get people to spend more money. Americans are estimated to spend $690.84 billion shopping online in 2020.
2. Food (Groceries and Restaurants)
The average family of 4 statistically spends up to $1,068 a month just on groceries and an average of $250 a month on restaurants and dining out. Food is one of the biggest variable expenses for households, especially during the busy holiday season.
The average American family spends about $287 a month on subscriptions. That’s a lot of subscriptions! It’s really easy to overspend. The temptation of it just being $10 a month lures you in. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you add on a few of these, it can really add up. You stop using the product and forget to cancel your subscription. Then you’re paying for something you don’t even use.
7 Reasons You Can’t Stop Spending Money
1. Debit/Credit card saved on websites makes shopping easier than ever.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all seen a sale advertised, browsed around, clicked add to cart, and checkout faster than you can blink. The retailers allow you to save your credit/debit card saved to your profile to make shopping even easier.
You know this is true for you because you’ve also stopped spending before because you didn’t feel like getting up and hunting down your card to checkout. This pause made you stop and think. After contemplating your purchase, you decide you really don’t “need it” anyway.
2. Social media causes you to spend without thinking.
People spend a lot of time on their phones and social media. You can get caught up spending extra money from social media in 2 ways:
Social media ads
Social media is so smart these days. You can be talking about one thing and within 10 minutes, you have an ad pop up on Facebook or Instagram for the product you were just discussing. It’s kinda weird how it happens, right?
Trying to “Keep up with the Joneses”
You see all of your friends with trunks full of presents during Black Friday when you didn’t plan on purchasing anything. Maybe they are taking vacations, going on shopping sprees, or the hottest new iPhone. You see them always dressing their kids in the cutest clothes or always having the latest and greatest things.
Then, you reason with yourself before making the purchase because “It’s only $20. It’s not a big deal”.
3. You shop to feel better and improve your mood.
When you feel like you’re in a bad mood, you start searching for ways to feel better. You know shopping will give you that quick shot of happiness, so you take off to Target or Home Goods.
Before you know it, you have a full cart of items you didn’t plan on purchasing. You feel bad for a moment, but you still head off to the checkout counter. Everything goes on the credit card because you know it won’t hurt as much and you can pay for it a little each month.
You have the $50 minimum payment in the budget anyway, so technically that means it’s in the budget, right? Not true, but you tell yourself it is true at the moment.
4. Peer pressure leads to overspending.
1). Direct Peer Pressure
Some of your friends might pressure you to spend outside of your budget. They might reason with you and say “The pedicure is ONLY $20. You can afford to spend $20, can’t you? Suddenly, you feel like you deserve it.
People may also try to make you feel guilty for not going out to a family dinner when it’s not in your budget. They tell you they’ll pay, but you go and you pay anyway because you feel guilty asking them to pay even though they told you they would.
2). Indirect Peer Pressure
Have you ever found yourself wanting something that someone else has after only a few minutes on social media? Suddenly, you need that cute new purse. Or maybe you just have to get that new Christmas decoration from Home Goods because it’s absolutely adorable and would totally complete the look you’re going for.
Your friends or family don’t tell you or make you feel forced to go out and do these things, but you do it to yourself after looking at all of their nice things.
5. Stores (even online) make it easy impulse spend.
Stores are geniuses at making you spend more money. Here are a few ways they can cause you to overspend:
- Stores always having tempting sales.
- Most stores have a “have you seen this” or “add this to your cart for just $5” when you checkout.
- They send you emails filled with coupons every single time you check your inbox.
- Many stores have anniversary clubs and birthday clubs to give you coupons and promote spending money in their store.
- They have rewards cards that analyze shopping patterns and give you points to get “free stuff”.
6. You are unaware you’re spending too much money.
There are 2 ways that you might be unaware of spending too much money:
1). You don’t even realize you’re overspending. In fact, you just swipe your card at the checkout without looking at the total. You’re not even paying attention. In your head, you think the total is going to be around $50, but when you look at your receipt on the way to the car, you see the total is actually $89.
2). You aren’t keeping track of your expenses and “in your head” you think you’ve only spent $200 this month on groceries. You think you still have $50 more to spend. But in reality, you’ve spent $275.
7. You’re paying with plastic
According to recent studies, people who are paying with cards (debit or credit), spend 12 – 18% more than those that pay in cash. A study from 2016, shows that the average cash transaction is $22 and the average credit card transaction is $112. That’s a 409% increase!
Study after study shows that when you’re paying with plastic (especially with a credit card), that you spend way more. You have a built-in mindset that you automatically send $100 to Chase every month, so it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s already built into the budget to pay $100 to Chase. It’s technically in the budget, right? Wrong! It’s still debt and overspending.
22 Tips To Help You Stop Spending Too Much Money
1. Create a realistic budget.
Creating a budget will help you with spending less. You can decide where you want your money to go and use it as a guideline before making a purchase.
If it’s in the budget- great, make the purchase. If it’s not in the budget- wait. Some people have reservations about creating a budget. Just think of it as creating a money plan for yourself. Just like you would create a food plan, menu plan, etc.
A budget is simply a guide. You create it ahead of time with a clear mind. Then, when you’re in the moment, you are less likely to give into willpower.
Need help learning how to budget?
- Learn how to write a budget when you’re paid bi-weekly here.
- Learn how to write a budget when you’re paid weekly here.
2. Use cash envelopes.
Spending cash hurts a lot less than using plastic. It is statistically proven to make you spend less.
You can start small and just take 2-3 categories where you typically overspend and start pulling the money out of your account every payday. For those 2-3 categories, you will not use your debit card. You will only use the cash in the envelopes.
If you’re new to cash envelopes, you can get started as quickly as that. You can also grab some free cash envelopes.
3. Stop storing your debit/credit cards on websites to make checkout easier.
A lot of websites save your card information to make it easier to checkout. Stop clicking the remember this card button when buying things online. If you have any cards on any website, remove them.
This one small action will help you put up a barrier and make it harder to complete the purchase.
4. Think before you spend.
Really think about an item before you spend the money. Below are two questions to ask yourself before spending money:
- Do I really need it?
- Can I live without it?
We have a freebie available for you to help with this step. I use it all of the time to track my money goals. You create 3 money goals and track your progress daily. This reminder helps me with so much unnecessary spending. Grab your free money goals printable!
5. Get control of your impulse spending.
Stop spending so much money is easier said than done, right? You want to stop swiping your card and blowing your paychecks, but you just can’t seem to do it.
No matter how hard you try, the urge to hit “add to cart” is stronger than your willpower. Do you live paycheck to paycheck even though you make decent money?
I’ve been there and I want to help you. That’s exactly why I created Stop the Swipe. Stop the Swipe is a course to help you with overspending. I will help you kick your bad money habits to the curb for good!
Stop the Swipe will teach you how to:
- recognize your desire to spend.
- find the REAL problem.
- create a step-by-step plan to stop overspending.
I want to show you that it’s totally possible to change your money habits and win with money. You can view additional information about this transformational course HERE.
6. Never shop without a list.
Stop shopping without a list. Chances are you will more likely pick up things you don’t need (especially at the checkout counter). When you go into the store without a list, you’re more likely to go down every aisle to make sure you can “remember” everything, but you ALWAYS end up spending more than you intended.
7. Stop going out to eat for lunch.
Going out to lunch is expensive. You can easily spend $8 or more for one meal. Here’s some math to put it into perspective.
Eating lunch 3x a week for an average of $8 a pop looks like this:
This isn’t counting your spouse. This is just for you. You could be so much farther ahead on your debt snowball with $1,248 a year!
Even if you only go out to eat one time each week, you’ll be cutting the cost to only $416 each year. That’s a lot of savings!
8. Unsubscribe from emails.
Stop getting all of the sales emails. Just say no thank you when the cashier asks you for your email address. If you are already on a ton of mailing lists for sales emails (which I bet you are), try unsubscribing from them. Instead of unsubscribing from them one by one, you can actually go to Unroll.me and do it the easy way and save a ton of time.
You go to the website Unroll.Me and sign into your email account on their site. Then it will bring up all of the emails in your inbox.
You can decide to do 1 of 3 things with the email.
- Keep in your inbox and keep subscribing.
- Send to the rollup. The rollup email adds in all of your emails and sends you one email a day instead of 10. You get one email with a snippet of each email. You can scroll through and see all of the emails at one time.
This will really clean up your inbox and help you stop spending money.
9. Track your spending.
Tracking your spending is eye-opening. This stops you from being in the cycle of overspending. If you track your spending, you know how much you have left in your grocery budget. There’s no more guessing. You won’t accidentally overspend, because you know.
I personally use Quicken to keep track of my expenses. They have an app so you can keep track of your expenses on your phone. Your spouse can even download the app on their phone too.
10. Realize your triggers.
What triggers you to overspend? Is it to feel better? Is it when you have a girl’s day? This isn’t to judge yourself. It’s to become aware. Awareness is the first step in solving any problem.
You have to know a problem exists first. What were you thinking when you purchased the item? What made you throw those extra pair of leggings into your cart at Target?
11. Decrease your expenses.
If you’re spending more than you like on food or another category, make a plan to change it. Can you work on spending 20% less each month? If your goal is to spend $600 a month on food (groceries and restaurants), but you’re currently spending $1,200, you can’t go from $1,200 to $600 in one month. Just decrease your spending by 20% each month until you reach your goal.
Use can decrease your spending several ways. Try using coupons, switching to generic, making cheaper meals, etc. Go through each category you’re spending too much on and create a plan to decrease the amount you’re spending.
12. Create money goals.
Creating goals helps you figure out where you want to go with your money. It’s hard to get to your destination when you haven’t planned out where you’re going.
Don’t go crazy and try to create a ton of goals at one time. Just create 3 small goals/habits you want to work on each month. You can use our money goals sheet and keep track of your goals every single day and even keep track of your reward for making your goal at the end of the month.
13. Know where you stand with your budget.
Before you go out to spend money, check your budget and expenses BEFORE leaving the house or hitting checkout on the computer. Now that you’ve started tracking your expenses, you’re able to see if you really can afford it or not.
This will prevent you from overspending. You know how much money you have to work with when you go to the restaurant or for a girl’s night.
14. Double-check your subscriptions.
Check your subscriptions.
- Are there any you can stop that you’re not using anymore?
- Can you decrease the cost in any way (like lower your package or decrease the number of deliveries)?
- Can you find a cheaper alternative that will meet your needs?
15. Create a meal plan to save on food.
Creating a meal plan will help you save a ton of money on food. When you don’t have a meal plan in place, you tend to spend more on going out to eat or you go shopping without a list.
Either way, you end up spending way more than you intended. Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated.
Hint: You can put frozen pizza and takeout on your meal plan if that’s what you plan on eating. People tend to make meal planning super complicated, but it’s really just writing down what you say you’re gonna eat on a certain day. That’s it.
16. Leave the cards at home when you shop.
If you’re going shopping, take cash and leave the cards at home. If you know you only have $100 to spend at the grocery store, you’re going to be more cautious of what you’re spending. You will be able to fight the temptation to add in all of those extra purchases. You’ll actually save a ton of money because you’ll have to add up your purchases as you go along.
17. Calculate the cost of an item in time.
When you want to make a purchase (say that $500 Christmas tree speaking to you at Home Depot), calculate the number of hours you need to work to buy the Christmas tree.
Essentially, you’ll have to work almost an entire week (or a little over 4 days) to buy the Christmas tree. Then you can determine if the tree is worth you working 33 hours for. It’s probably not and you’ll likely be able to resist the purchase.
18. Order grocery pickup.
Ordering groceries for pickup saves you a ton of money and time. You won’t spend precious time walking through all of the isles at the grocery store and throwing things in your cart like crazy.
One perk is that you’re able to see your grand total after every single item you add to the cart. If you go over budget then you can always remove an item from your list before you check out!
19. Budget personal spending money.
Spending money isn’t just for kids. You don’t need to cut yourself or your spouse out of the budget. Give yourselves pocket money. Once your cash is gone, you’re done spending until you can refill the envelope again.
One perk is that you can quickly add up the cash to see how much you have left to spend. This really helps me with overspending. I can decide if the purchase is worth it or not right away.
20. Do a no-spend challenge.
A no-spend challenge is a great way to stop your overspending habit. You can do a no-spend challenge for a day, weekend, week, or month. You don’t have to do it for a whole month. If you’re just starting out, I recommend doing it for a day or a weekend.
21. Get an accountability buddy.
Having an accountability buddy really helps you with overspending.
An accountability buddy can help in several ways:
- Set a limit for spending. If an item you want to purchase is over that limit you have to discuss it with your buddy first.
- Discuss one category of your budget with them and they can help you stay on track with that category. (Like food!)
If your spouse isn’t on board with budgeting, just ask a friend. It doesn’t have to be your spouse. It can be anyone who will help hold you accountable.
22. Stop shopping with a shopping cart.
I love spending money at Target. Like really, really love it! I had to stop myself from getting a shopping cart when I went into the store. I now carry the items in my hand.
This prevents me from throwing a bunch of things into the cart without thinking. It prevents me from overspending at Target. Wherever your weak spot is, don’t use a shopping cart in that store either. Maybe you overspend at Hobby Lobby or Home Goods. Either way, don’t use a cart.
How To Stop Overspending: The Bottom Line
Overspending doesn’t have to define you. You can overcome your habit of overspending. You can choose to rewrite your story. Start today with a new you. It’s totally possible to change your money habits.
The first step to stop overspending is to create a budget. If you’ve never created a budget or it’s been a while, don’t worry. I’ve got you! I have a free budgeting course that will help you create your budget. I will be there with you holding your hand and walking through every single step along the way.
In this FREE course, I will teach you:
- How to not feel trapped by your money anymore.
- Create a realistic budget that will actually work for your family.
- Save money (even if it’s not your cup of tea!)
- Pay off that debt you’ve been ignoring for months (or years!)
Seriously, it’s free. Go ahead and sign up. You won’t be sorry.