I am going to teach you how to stop spending so much money.
Before I do, I should confess that I’m a spender at heart. I wasn’t born a natural saver or frugal-nista – I like to spend money. So proceed with caution…
If you’re wondering what makes me qualified to even write this post given my spending propensity, it is that I am a personal finance blogger, financial planner, and life-long learner. But most importantly, I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to curb my own spending habits and share them with people like me – all the spenders of the world. One of the most effective ways I’ve been able to curb my own spending is by not using a credit card. But this post is about a different method of stopping the spending madness altogether.
I am proposing a four-step process to spending less money (this process comes from my post about How to Change Any Part of Your Life – I am applying the process to spending less money). Step 1: Become aware of your spending problem; Step 2: Understand why you are spending so much money; Step 3: Disassociate from your money-spending mindset; Step 4: Recondition yourself to spend less money.
So, here goes!
Step 1: Become Aware of Your Spending Problem
The first step toward spending less money is to become aware of your spending problem.
Ask yourself if you have a spending problem. Most spenders know that they’re spenders, deep down. If you are really honest with yourself about your spending habits, it should be obvious whether you’re a spender.
Here’s what happens when you’re a spender: You get your paycheck. You spend it all. If you use credit cards, you spend more than you make, which leads you into consumer debt. After you spend your money, you feel the pressure and stress of being broke. Then, you spend more money to make yourself feel better. Sometimes you save for yourself, but rarely and only when it’s taken out of your paycheck before you even see it (meaning you don’t have to practice self control or discipline). Not only does this leave you broke, but it also leaves you with money as a major stress in your life.
- Related: Budget Spreadsheets
If you aren’t quite in tune with yourself yet, another way to know whether you’re a spender and have a spending problem is to check in on your bank account. If you don’t have a lot of financial margin, have trouble saving money, and run out of money every month, then you also may have a spending problem.
The point is to recognize you have the problem so you can do something about it.
Step 2: Understand Why You’re Spending So Much Money
Step two is to understand why you are spending so much money.
There are a number of reasons why you may like spending money (a lot of them are emotional). But regardless of the specific motivation for spending, the habit of consumerism is the ultimate result.
If you are a spender, you are stuck in the habit of consumerism. Consumerism is the never-ending acquisition of stuff in increasing amounts.
Whether it’s to keep up with the Joneses or whether it’s to spoil your kids with more stuff – you are spending waaaay more money than you should be if you’re a spender who is stuck in the habit of consumerism.
If this is you – spending all your money by constantly and consistently acquiring more stuff – I am here to help you break the cycle!
Step 3: Disassociate From Your Money-Spending Mindset
Step three is to disassociate from your money-spending mindset.
Disassociation means to separate. So, you need to stop believing in your money-spending mindset.
To disassociate from your money-spending mindset, recognize that you currently have a financial plan that prioritizes spending. In your mind, your go-to when you receive money is to spend it.
You need to change this belief and habit. You have to disassociate from it. Instead of thinking and believing your money is to be spent, you need to shift to a mindset that believes money is to be saved and given away. By saving or giving away your money, you are disassociating from the belief that your money is for your to consume. If you don’t believe your money is for your consumption, then you’ll stop spending it.
By disassociating from a spending mindset, you break away from the habit of consumerism and transform your mindset into that of a saver and a giver.
Step 4: Recondition Yourself to Spend Less Money
Step four is to recondition yourself to spend less money.
The best way I know how to recondition yourself (i.e. to learn new behaviors) is through affirmations and habits. Affirmations are phrases you repeat until they become one of your beliefs. This will help you shift your thinking. Habits are daily disciplines you repeat that make normal behaviors part of your routine.
Here are a few example to help you shift from a spending, consumer mindset to a giving and saving mindset…
Saving and giving affirmations:
- “I prioritize saving money and giving it away.”
- “I believe saving money and giving it away is the right thing to do with my money.”
- “I am helping myself and my family by saving money and giving it away. I am hurting myself and my family when I spend my money”
If none of these feel right, think of your own money mantra you can turn into an affirmation to help you recondition yourself from a spender to a saver and a giver. Try writing down these affirmations on paper and posting them on your refrigerator or in your bathroom. Then, make a digital note of the affirmations for your reference when you’re not at home. Choose a time to remind yourself of the affirmations, daily (e.g.: when you’re in the car or the shower).
Saving and giving habits:
- Start budgeting (and obviously put saving and giving at the top of your priority list in your budget).
- Implement a 10-day spending rule where you don’t buy anything over a certain amount of money until you have thought about it for 10 days.
Related: How to Budget for Beginners
A Final Note!
As I said above, the four steps to stop spending so much are:
- Become aware of your spending problem
- Understand why you’re spending so much money
- Disassociate from your money-spending mindset
- Recondition yourself to spend less money
Aside from those steps, you can learn more about how to spend less through The Real Life Money Plan, which is a money course I took that teaches you how to be better with your money, including spending less. It’s amazing because it’s taught by someone who lives what she preaches. It’s amazing!