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8 ways to stop spending -- today

Ready to rethink your relationship with your money? It's not as hard as you might think.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 17, 2013 3:42PM

This post comes from Mikey Rox at partner site Wise Bread.

WiseBread logoAs Americans we're conditioned to spend money from the time we're wee boys and girls. The power of capitalism makes us want, want, want, so that by the time we're barely legal adults, we're already in debt.

Woman swiping a credit card © Rubberball, Mike Kemp, Rubberball, Getty ImagesThat's what happened to me. As soon as I turned 18, I had creditors ringing my phone off the hook asking if I'd like a credit card. A credit card, you ask? You mean one of those beautiful, shiny pieces of plastic that'll allow me to buy whatever I want without paying for it?! Yes, please. Sign me up for two!


You can probably guess how that went down. Three months later the cards were maxed out, and I had creditors ringing my phone off the hook for a different reason. After years of avoiding their persistence while continuing to rack up late fees, I finally settled my bills and made the difficult decision to stop spending money.


That's not entirely true, of course. I have to spend money, but I do spend it much differently now. Specifically, I don't spend money I don't have. I pay my bills on time, and my sole credit card is for emergencies only. Those two self-imposed rules have helped me get my finances back on track over the past few years, and they can help you, too.


If you're drowning in debt or just want to learn how to cut back, consider these helpful tips on how to stop spending and start climbing out of debt -- today.


1. Cut up those credit cards

First things first -- get rid of that glistening temptation that will make you broke and keep you broke for years on end. I'm not one of those personal finance preachers who thinks credit cards are the devil, mind you, but in the wrong hands they can certainly wreak havoc. If you lack the self-control to put the credit cards in a locked safe or other hiding place to use them only for dire situations, cut them up all together. Out of sight, out of mind is the general consensus. But even better is the fact that you can't abuse something you don't have to begin with.


2. Pay your bills immediately

Paying your bills as soon as they arrive is a good tactic for curbing your spending because you won't have as much money left when all is said and done. Get those bills out of the way as soon as possible, and you won't be compelled to hit up the bar or shop for new kicks when you see how little is left over.


3. Set savings goals

When you set savings goals, you'll have something toward which to work. It's not enough, however, to set a dollar amount to put in your savings account each week. Rather, set a monetary goal that's attached to something tangible that will benefit you, like college courses, a car, or a house. If you really want to improve your life with these mega purchases, you'll be less likely to spend money like it's going out of style.


4. Leave your debit card at home

It's difficult for me to leave home without my debit card because it's kind of a security blanket, but when that card is in my pocket, I use it. I use it for everything, including purchases of less than a dollar. I think those purchases are insignificant but too many can add up quickly. So when I really need to cut back, I leave the debit card at home, so I'm not tempted to swipe on impulse.


Which leads me to the next tip . . .

5. Carry only a small amount of cash for emergencies

I don't recommend that you leave the house without any access to money, so as a compromise carry a small amount of cash on you for emergencies. The psychology of spending cash will almost always make you spend less (but hopefully none at all) because you can actually see the real dollars leaving your hand opposed to the invisible electronic funds from a debit card.

6. Don't tempt yourself with sales. If you're on a spending freeze, stay away from sales at all costs. You may think you're saving money, but often times the exact opposite is true. When I go shopping, for example, I tend to go overboard at a sale because the deals are just so good. If I purchased something at the full retail price, however, I'm much less likely to spend anymore. That one purchase with a hefty price tag will scare me away from most everything else. Conversely, the low prices at sales actually feed my desire to get more at rock bottom prices, which I don't have to tell you rack up quickly.

7. Busy yourself with things that don't cost money

Stop spending money today by staying away from anything that costs money. Simple as that, really. Engage in free activities, clean the house, bury yourself in work, and otherwise participate in something productive that keeps your mind off your wallet and occupied on a positive alternative to spending cash.


8. Find a support group

If you find that you're having trouble not spending money, you may have a serious problem -- and you're not alone. Which I why I suggest finding a support group for over spenders so you can get that problem under control before it takes over your life. It can happen, and I can tell you firsthand that it's not a road you want to go down if you can help it.

More from Wise Bread:

Jun 17, 2013 5:26PM
I'm sorry, but I'm not impressed with this list.  It gives you some good and some bad advice about OVER spending, but it really doesn't address getting the biggest bang for your buck when spending and how to limit spending.

First of all, get yourself some self-discipline and do things that will help you motivate yourself to stick to it.  "when that [debit] card is in my pocket, I use it. I use it for everything."  Well, aren't you special!

That one of the weaknesses here: you don't explain how to limit "everything"!

When you shop, take a LIST and stick to it within reason.  For groceries you can even go online, pick things from a circular, and print out the list.  You can then go to sites like, check off coupons, and they get applied automatically at the store when your loyalty card is swiped and you buy the item.

If you see something new you like, wait a day or a week and then get it if you still want it.  If it's on sale, only buy it if you're sure you'll use it.

Also, look at your credit card and checking balances every few days.  This replaces the braking effect of seeing your money drain from your wallet.

DO use cash-back credit cards instead of cash if you can pay off the entire balance each month. For every $100 in spending, I save an average $2. Of course, this also requires self-discipline and taking shopping lists helps do that.  In July through Sept, I'll get 5% cash-back using my Discover Card for gasoline (sign up for free on your card webpage).  So if people paying cash are charged $3.67 per gallon, I'll be paying $3.49 per gallon.  Note that you're not going to overspend using a credit card at a gas pump!

If you use debit cards, check our Credit Unions: they generally charge NOTHING for debit card swipes and have 70,000+ absolutely no-charge ATMs nationwide including those in every 7-11, Target, and Costco.

Finally, don't think it's demeaning to be seen at an Aldi, Ollie's, Dollar Tree, Walmart, etc. or buying store brands.  Most of the best discount stores in my area were pointed out to me by people making six-figure incomes.

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