How to Stop Spending Money: 61 Things to Do Instead

Because suddenly, when I tell myself I can't do it....spending is all I want to do. 

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If you've landed here on this page…I'm willing to bet your spending habits aren't (as Mary Poppins says) ship-shape.  Writing about how to stop spending money (and save it instead) is something I cover often here on the site. For me, I hate telling myself to cut back.


Because suddenly, when I tell myself I can't do it….spending is all I want to do. 


Below is a list full of the solutions I've covered/written about/or read that have helped me learn how to stop spending money over the last seven years I've been running this blog. I'm a reformed shopaholic and still more of a spender than a saver. 


The good news is that (like me) you're bound to find something that works for you, and something that will help you to overcome your spending problem: whether it's a full-blown addiction or a bad habit you'd like to break in order to live a better financial life.


How to Stop Spending Money: 8 Things to Try




Get rid of all your cards


Seriously. Do it. Do it now before you lose your nerve. I'll just sit here and wait for you to come back.

But for real, if the thought of cutting up all your credit cards scares the life out of you, then at least cut up all but one. (Especially keep one if you don't have any type of emergency savings or rainy day fund set aside!)

Then, put the one remaining card in a plastic container and fill with water. Put it in your freezer Confessions of a Shopaholic Style.  Out of sight, out of mind on this one. You won't be tempted to use the card for every impulse whim when it takes 2+ hours to defrost. 



Track your spending


One of the best ways to learn how to stop spending is to gain a clear view of where your money is going – even down to the penny. The first step after realizing you have a compulsive spending problem is to then begin tracking your expenses for a minimum of 30 days. There are a variety of ways to do this:


  • Try keeping a money diary for a week to see how much you're really spending.
  • You can print out all of your statements and tally up categories one by one. (Excruciating, but effective.)
  • Leverage an app that syncs with your spending accounts so you can see very quickly where the money goes and even keep up with your spending via mobile app. 


Want to save time on expense tracking? Download the FREE Trim app. Trim automatically analyzes your expenses to see where you can save, but it also tracks your budget to see where your money goes as well. Click here to download for free.


Identify your spending triggers


When I first began working with a therapist on my shopping addiction, she had me keep a journal close by and write down all the moments I felt like I wanted to shop. Then, she wanted me to write down how I was feeling and if anything happened immediately before my shopping itch kicked in.

After a few weeks, we began to see the pattern: I liked to shop whenever I felt sad. Boyfriend troubles, a bad grade on an exam, confrontation with a co-worker at my part-time job, I used shopping to cure whatever bad feelings I had.


The trick to learning how to stop spending is to put significant distance between the triggers (feeling sad) and shopping.


When I was learning how to get over compulsive spending we didn't have online shopping yet (it was 2008/2009), so it was a bit easier to avoid stores than it is today. I recommend the following:

  • If you know flash sale emails are a trigger for you, unsubscribe from all emails (I use for this and have used it for YEARS!)
  • Try putting your laptop away late at night so you won't be tempted to spend when you're mindlessly scrolling on the couch. 
  • A fight with your Mom send you over the edge? Knowing your trigger is half the battle. If something happens that triggers you to spend, acknowledge the feeling and journal or go for a walk instead. (This sounds so cheesy, but I'm a big fan of journaling and my therapy 10+ years ago is where it all started. It works!)



Create a budget that allows for spending


When learning how to stop spending, I recommend people start with sticking to a budget and then once they've mastered that skill to move on to learning how to save more.  Budgets don't have to be restrictive. Instead, look at them as your permission slip to spend on what you can afford.


So, a budget is just a game plan for getting what we want. Cool, right?


Using the 50-30-20 method, someone who takes home $3,000 each month will have 20% (or $600 each month) to spend however they choose. A few nights out, a new wardrobe, a day at the salon…you name it. 


Staying within that $600 limit is where people struggle, but honestly, isn't it better knowing you have $600 to spend than trying to stop spending cold turkey? 

One of my favorite ways to spend guilt-free is by leveraging my automatic savings app, Qapital to sock away little bits of cash from my checking account each month. After a few months, I have hundreds saved and I can use this to splurge guilt-free, without impacting my monthly budget. Give Qapital a try – it's free for the first month and then $3 thereafter. I saved $75 my first month with Qapital and the best part is that I didn't feel it. Click here to sign up for Qapital.



Tackle a no-spend challenge


One of my favorite ways to “reset” my spending habits when I've been a bad, bad girl is to do a no-spend challenge. 

For one month I try to only spend on the necessities: food for the fridge, gas for the car, bills…and that's about it. No skincare products from Follain. No clothing items I found on Definitely not anything unnecessary from Amazon. 

And guess what? It helps. It reminds me I have plenty and that I can get by with what I already have.

And it forces me to get creative in the event I want to do something but don't have the money. I used to be wildly creative in my early 20's when it came to living the good life on a budget. Now I'm in my 30's and have gotten incredibly lazy. Convenience trumps cost every time.

A no spend challenge brings me back to earlier, more frugal times and I always welcome the change of pace, at least for the short term. Click here to read how to do a no spend challenge of your own.  Or, if you want to start small, consider a 365-day money saving challenge.


Sit on it


Anytime you'd like to make an online purchase, put it in your cart and wait 24 hours. I do this whether it's a big purchase or something that's $19.99. 


I know that if I'm still thinking about it the next day, it's likely something I'll use, enjoy, and get an incredible amount of value from. If I forget about the item, I know it was just an impulse. 


A big way to see just how much money you're throwing away each month is to redirect the money you would've spent ($40 here, $7.99 there) into a high-yield savings account. Doing this enables you to see just how much every little bit counts. 


Take the first step by opening up a high-yield savings account so you have a place to stash your savings that earns as much as it possibly can. I like to recommend CIT Bank (this is where I keep my savings, too!)  thanks to its higher-than-average interest rate (25x the national average) and no-fee structure. All it takes is $100 to open. Click here to learn more. 


Set yourself up for success


Changing lifelong spending behaviors is a marathon, not a sprint. With this in mind, it's important to spend time not spending money, but also on getting to know yourself better. Take the time to not only track your money patterns but learn about your feelings behind money and how to (potentially) change your money mindset. 


  • First, figure out why you're spending in the first place: are you an over buyer or an under-buyer? 
  • Then, write down why you want to stop spending. Is it to meet some financial goal? To achieve a milestone or quit hurting people with your behavior? 
  • Write down your “why” and then create a vision board that supports your goals. What does your life look like if you cut down on compulsive spending? What will you be able to accomplish?
  • Draft your own set of money beliefs. How do the shopping and spending money fit in?
  • Continue your education by reading books and blogs on the topic. Learn how to change your consumer-driven lifestyle by reading Cait Flanders or The Minimalists for inspiration on how to live with less and spend more mindfully. 
  • Find a licensed therapist, particularly one who specializes in addiction or money counseling. You can even go online and get a therapist who will meet with you via phone or Skype via new technologies like the BetterHelp app. 


Costs keeping you away from seeking professional help? BetterHelp offers a variety of membership plans to meet your needs between $40-$70 each week. One month of unlimited is typically less than one traditional therapy visit and you can do it online and on your schedule. This could be especially great for those who are paying off debt and extra concerned with saving money. Don't go it alone! Get matched with a therapist online with BetterHelp.


How to Stop Spending Money: 61 Things to Do Instead




It's so hard to keep yourself entertained without spending money. Whenever I'm trying to stay on budget or cut back, I'm reminded again and again of how hard this is. 



The best side hustle I can think of is blogging, which isn't possible until you buy a domain name and hosting. I recommend Hostgator for the cheapest industry pricing and easy WordPress installation. Investigate Hostgator options here. Using my link you can get hosting for as low as $2.75/month.  Using my special link, readers can get 50% off 1, 2 and 3-year plans! 



The TL: DR


It's tough work to change your behavior when you've been spending unfettered for so long, but it CAN be done.

As you can see, it isn't so much about completely cutting out spending.

Instead, it's about re-routing your energy into things other than spending. Many of the tips above will help better your finances if you just devote the time and energy to them. Funnily enough, I've found that once the spending stops, all of that spare brain space in your head opens up and allows you to really focus on getting your act together.

Funny how that works, right?


The whole point of learning how to stop spending compulsively is so we can save (and spend!) on the things that matter. If you don't already, you'll want to get a high-yield Savings account so you can start tucking your money away in a place where it can earn more and really make a difference.

CIT Bank should be your only option (this is where I keep my savings, too!)  because of its higher-than-average interest rate (25x the national average) and no-fee structure. All it takes is $100 to open and you get rewarded for automatically saving each month. Click here to learn more about their Savings Builder program.


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How to Stop Spending Money: 61 Things to Do Instead
    • Lisa
    • July 8, 2017

    Haha. I woke up down today. You’ve chreeed me up!

  1. I’ve noticed that I sometimes get a “high” when I buy certain things, or when I know that I’m about to go shopping. I think it’s mostly due to the satisfaction of getting a new thing, but that new thing can quickly wear off. It’s tough, especially since we live in such a consumerist society.

      • Lauren Bowling
      • May 31, 2017

      Lately, I’ve been a little too into the “hunt” of finding something I want at a deep discount or sale. At the same time, it’s saving money, but indulging in a shopping behavior, which is something I don’t want.

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