How to spend less money with these simple frugal living tips. Whether you’re trying to live a debt free lifestyle or you’re learning how to live within your means, these tips will help you save money and stick to your budget.
This post may contain affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.
Do you ever look over the previous month’s credit or debit card statement and think to yourself, “Holy cow! I spent HOW MUCH at Target?!”
Been there, done that.
Even the most frugal among us have our weaknesses. But at some time or another, we all come to the realization that we need to spend less money if we expect to reach our financial goals.
If you feel like your spending is out of control, or even if you just want to make wiser financial decisions, then you’re in the right place, my friend. I’m going to show you how to spend less money using seven tried-and-true methods.
Let’s get started!
How to Spend Less Money
Figure out your “why”
Why do you want to spend less money? Is it so you can save up for a family vacation, pay more toward your student loan debt, or reduce your monthly expenses so you can quit your job? As long as you have a compelling reason or end goal to motivate you, you’ll be more likely to make it happen.
Make a plan for your money by creating a budget
Even though budgets can seem boring and/or restrictive, they actually serve a very important purpose! They help you decide up front how much money you plan to spend for the month.
Dave Ramsey always says that unless you make a plan for your money, it will disappear without you even realizing it. Have you ever gotten to the end of the month and wondered where all of your money went? It slipped right through your fingers because you didn’t have a plan for it.
A budget solves that problem. When you make a budget, you decide how much money you want to spend on things such as groceries, eating out, clothes, home décor, etc. By deciding ahead of time how much you plan to spend, you avoid getting to the end of the month and wondering how on earth you spent half of your paycheck at Target.
If you’re new to the world of budgeting, then you should definitely check out this post:
That post will teach you how to create a budget that actually works for you. It also teaches you about Dave Ramsey’s concept of “zero based budgeting,” which is essential if you want to avoid wasting your hard-earned dollars!
Side note: Dave Ramsey ROCKS! I highly recommend his book The Total Money Makeover if you really want to achieve financial freedom.
Ensure that you’ll stick to your budget by using the cash envelope system
Budgets are super important if you want to spend less money, but they aren’t foolproof. While they do help you decide how much money you plan to spend, they don’t actually prevent you from exceeding your planned amount. Trust me, I know this from experience.
For years, even though I diligently made a budget month after month, Josh and I consistently overspent in every single budget category. Why? Because we didn’t have a system in place to control our spending. Sure, our budget looked good on paper, but it was ineffective because we ignored a critical element of successful budgeting: the cash envelope system.
By far, the cash envelope system was the turning point that took us from wasting our money to having complete control over it.
Here’s the cash envelope system in a nutshell: For every spending category in your budget where you have to enter a store to purchase something, you pay with cash (basically, you’ll use cash for everything except bills).
But you don’t keep all of your cash together. Instead, you divide your cash into specific categories such as groceries, restaurants, clothing, gifts, entertainment, etc. Each category has its own envelope, and once you run out of cash in that envelope, that’s it. You’re done spending for that category for that month.
As you can see, the cash envelope system prevents you from overspending because you’re limited to the amount of cash in your envelopes.
Of course, this is only a high-level overview of the system. You can read more about it in this post:
Avoid situations that cause unplanned spending
We’ve all been there. We stop by the mall because we need to kill some time. Or we visit the shoe store because a new pair of sandals will make us feel better after a crappy day at work.
We didn’t really need a new outfit or new shoes, and we didn’t plan to go shopping that day, but it happened anyway. These kinds of scenarios are what get a lot of people into financial trouble, so be careful!
Here are some situations that you should be aware of if you want to avoid unplanned spending:
- Going to the mall to kill time
- Shopping out of boredom
- Engaging in “retail therapy” when you’re sad or stressed
- Window shopping with friends
- Browsing online stores to see what’s new
- Ordering from TV shopping networks late at night
- Browsing aisles in stores without having a real reason for being on that aisle (i.e. the home section of Target, the snack aisle at the grocery store, the clearance sections at TJMaxx)
- Attending parties where the host is selling something such as kitchen gadgets, handbags, beauty products, jewelry, or health products
Get comfortable saying “no” to yourself, your family members, and your friends
You don’t always have to accept when you family or friends invite you out to an expensive restaurant or some other event. Especially if you didn’t already plan for it in your budget, sometimes it’s best to politely decline.
And the cool thing about saying “no” is that it actually gets easier the more you do it. It’s true!
If you aren’t used to saying “no,” then it can be difficult at first. But you don’t have to be mean or rude about it. A simple “Oh, thank you so much for the invitation, but I already have plans that night!” is a great way to dodge events that exceed your spending limits even if your only plan was to watch reruns of Friends.
What’s even more difficult than saying “no” to friends and family is saying “no” to yourself.
In those situations, just remind yourself of your end goal and then make a compromise. For example, a routine mani/pedi can be hard to give up, especially if you’re used to being pampered. But soaking your feet in a tub of warm water, Epsom salt, and lavender essential oil lets you feel pampered for a fraction of the cost.
Shop smarter so you can spend less money without feeling deprived
You don’t have to rob yourself of every fun experience when you’re trying to spend less money. That foot soak example I just mentioned is one way to strategically spend your money so you get more bang for your buck. Here are some other options that let you have fun while spending less money:
- Shopping at thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets
- Watching a matinee instead of an evening showing at the movies
- Repurposing items that you already have at home
- Taking day trips instead of overnight trips
- Cooking your favorite restaurant meals at home
Related: 6 Tips to Score Big at Thrift Stores
Be thankful for the things you already have
Sometimes we forget just how fortunate we are. Let’s face it, in our consumerist society, it’s pretty easy to do! But if we’re honest with ourselves, we probably already have everything we need. We don’t really need to spend money on more things.
Practice a little bit of thankfulness each day to remind yourself of just how fortunate you are. And if following the Kardashians on Instagram makes you feel like what you have isn’t good enough, then find some new people to follow. Your self-esteem and wallet will thank you for it. 🙂
Wrapping It Up
So now you know how to spend less money even when your spending is out of control! It all boils down to figuring out your “why,” making a plan for your money by creating a budget, ensuring that you’ll stick to your budget by using the cash envelope system, avoiding situations that cause unplanned spending, getting comfortable saying “no,” shopping smarter so you can spend less money without feeling deprived, and being thankful for the things you already have.
Even though spending less money may seem like an impossible task at first, it does get easier over time. In fact, some people catch the frugal bug and never look back! I think it all comes down to mindset. As long as you approach it with a positive attitude, you’ll be surprised by how much fun you can have while spending less.
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- How to Save Money Without Feeling Deprived
- 30 Ways to Save Money so You Can Reach Your Financial Goals
- The Best Financial Advice I Ever Received
- How to Build an Emergency Fund: 3 Solid Strategies to Get You There Quickly
- Want to Take Charge of Your Finances? Dave Ramsey Can Help
- 7 Free or Cheap Ways to Exercise on a Budget
- 9 Personal Finance Resources You Need in Your Life
- How to Prepare for a Successful No-Spend Month
What about you? Are you trying to spend less money?
Also, if you found this post helpful, feel free to share it or pin it for later!