It happens to the best of us. You go on a weekend trip and spend more than you budgeted. Or you hit up the mall and thing, “why not?” – maybe it’s something you need, maybe it’s wants. Maybe you plan a bunch of activities for the kids that cost money. Whatever’s going on in your life, here’s how to dial back your spending to get back on track.
Right now pandemic restrictions are lifting and things are starting to open up. It’s been easier to do things, and there’s a lot of time to make up over the past year! Here, for example, restaurants were closed for so long that we’ve eaten out a few times since they opened.
But it’s too much, and like most people, the pandemic hasn’t been great to us. It’s time to cut back on spending and start saving money instead. Here’s our plans that you can totally steal for your family too.
How to Dial Back Your Spending
The most important thing you need to do is acknowledge what the problem is. If you’re over spending, recognizing what mistakes are being made is a big part of it. The means talking about what’s going right, and what isn’t. Once you identify those problem areas it’s a lot easier to tackle it head on.
A huge issue with spending vs saving is that we have to get into the habit. And for some people it can be a lot easier to get into the spending habit than the saving one. Shopping can be an addiction, and it’s important to recognize that.
Forgive and Accept Yourself
Money mistakes are linked to shame. Shopping and spending addiction are real, and there’s nothing wrong with a person who spends too much money sometimes. Whether it’s a new thing or an ongoing trend, you can’t beat yourself up about things you should have done differently. The only way to move now is forward – consider this a fresh start.
If you feel like you need help beyond just new habits, seriously think about getting help including therapy. It can be be very beneficial, and a therapist can give you tools to help not only change your behaviour but also help you emotionally too. You can’t always dial back your spending alone!
Get The Family on Board
Budgets and spending are a whole family affair. If you’re in a relationship or have kids, it’s important that everyone is on the same page about money. If only one spouse is on board it can be really difficult to stop your own spending, especially if they spend a lot too.
For kids, let them know what’s going on and what the plan is. Keep it age appropriate, and share with them what your goals are. They may ask for things still, but at least they’ll understand why when you say no.
Consider a Spending Freeze or No Spend Period
These are controversial. Some people think that no spend breaks are just delayed spending, which can be true in some cases. But if you’re in the habit of shopping, a spending freeze or no spend month can help break the cycle. The concept is pretty simple: You can’t spend any money (or extra money) over a period of time.
There can be exceptions (see the next point) but overall the goal is to spend nothing or as little as possible. That means no morning coffee, no trips to the movies, and in some cases, no grocery trips.
You might be wondering what the benefit of depravation for little things when it doesn’t affect the bottom line that much – the truth is, a coffee every now and then doesn’t have a big impact on your finances, but it represents a small part of a big problem: spending too much.
Make a List of Things You Can Buy
If a full no spend period is too difficult or impossible (for example, if you have kids at home or don’t have space to store a lot of food), consider making a list of essentials that you can buy and stick only to that list. Some people have done entire no spend years like this!
Some examples of things you might put on the list are perishable foods, toiletries, and pet supplies. Staying out of stores is a huge benefit to no spend breaks, so try and order this stuff curbside if you can.
Don’t Use the Kids as a Spending Excuse
Most parents are happier spending money on the kids rather than themselves. This is great and probably makes you a pretty awesome caregiver, but it’s not good for the bottom line. It’s one thing to go out and get what kids need – but they don’t need everything you want to buy them.
So often buying stuff for the kids is justified even when the purchase is actually for the parents. Do the kids actually need it? Do they care? Can it wait? These are some of the questions to ask yourself before opening up your wallet.
If the kids are asking for things, it’s a good opportunity to help teach them about money. Depending on the situation and their ages you can either get them on board with your saving plan, have them do extra work for you to earn the item they want, or help them find ways to make money outside the home. For younger kids, most purchases can wait until holidays.
Put a Delay on Purchases
If you’re really feeling like you want to buy something, and your budget allows for it, put it on a list. Keep it there for at least 30 days. Then see if you still want the purchase after that!
I’ve been wanting the LEGO Ship in a Bottle Set ever since it came out. Every time I saw it I would look and stare… I finally decided to pick it up and it was sold out at the LEGO store. I ended up ordering online because it will soon be discontinued, and it’s something I’ve wanted for over 2 years. On the other hand, there’s a new game I want that can wait because I haven’t been wanting it for long enough to know if I will lose interest or not.
You can also use the list to create birthday or holiday lists too!
Cancel All Unnecessary Subscriptions
This can mean streaming services if you have too many, subscription boxes, or services like Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. We do need some entertainment in your lives so if you do enjoy some things, keep them – but not everyone uses all the services they pay for.
Subscription boxes are often pricey and usually non-essentials, so those should go unless they’re something very useful or already paid for.
Finally, services like Subscribe and Save are not bad for your wallet on their own, but they can be if you’re getting deliveries of things you don’t need.
Remove Your Credit Cards From Online Stores
I’ve heard from so many people who helpful this has been to stop their spending. You don’t have to worry about accidentally getting charged and it helps curb impulse spending. My biggest problem with this one is I have my credit card number memorized… Oops! But still, it can be helpful for a lot of people to dial back your spending.
It ties back into delaying purchases like I mentioned before. It’s way too easy to order online and before we know it we’ve spent money we didn’t want to on things we don’t need. What’s worse, the return process is often annoying and most people don’t take advantage.
Delete Apps and Email Newsletters
Just remove the temptation. You won’t know your favourite brand is having a sale if you don’t get advertised to them every place you look! Remove or filter promotional emails so you’re not tempted to shop. For websites like Shein and Wayfair, delete the app entirely off your phone so there’s no chance you’ll pick up something.
If you follow brands on social media it’s also a good idea to unfollow or mute them so you’re not seeing ads there too.
Can’t spend money you don’t have! This is also called paying yourself first, and it means taking money and putting into your savings account before you even have a chance to spend it. It can be tough to do, but it really helps grow savings and living on less..
Ideally, set up an automatic withdrawal that will come out when you get paid so you never even see the money. It’s a lot easier to dial back your spending when you have less available cash.
Create a Budget
Budgets are great for many reasons, and if you’re really wanting to get serious about curbing spending then you’ll need to create one at some point. The reason why this is last on this list is because I feel like it’s more important to break habits first before you start budgeting. Otherwise the budget is more likely to be successful, and you’ll feel even worse.
Once you’re use to not spending, though, you can start making a plan for what money you do have and put it to use.
Trying to Save Money? Check Out These Posts:
- How to Stop Spending Money: A Guide
- How to Live a Simple Life (With or Without Kids)
- Breaking the More Mindset
Final Thoughts on How to Dial Back Your Spending
You really have to want to cut spending to make it work. If you or your partner isn’t on board it’s going to be a lot more difficult to actually reach your goals. You’re breaking big habits, some that may have taken years to form. You can’t expect it to be easy to stop overnight.