28 Responses to Budgeting Tips: How to Stop Spending Money on Things You Don’t Need

  1. Tushar @ Everything Finance 02/27/2013 at 8:46 pm #

    It’s so important to avoid impulse spending. It is difficult to get out of the bad habit, but once you do you can save tons of money. It’s very freeing being able to walk out of a store not having purchased anything.

    • Paul 02/28/2013 at 6:59 pm #

      I use a list most of the time I go shopping and if it is not on the list I don’t buy it.

  2. Michael @ So You Think You Can Save 02/28/2013 at 6:23 am #

    I think a cooling off period is a good way to control impulse spending. Some people say you should wait a week, but when you’re at the mall and you know you are going to make a decision on the spot, you can even take 30 minutes where you leave the store that has the item you’re considering, take another circle around, and evaluate whether you really want to make that purchase. In a lot of cases you will come back with a ‘nah’ answer and not even bother heading back to the store.

    • Paul 02/28/2013 at 7:01 pm #

      Good point Michael! On large purchases I always take my time and research. That gives me the time to make sure I really need the item.

  3. Midlife Finance 02/28/2013 at 9:51 am #

    Tracking your spending is a huge first step. You’ll see what you spend on and will be surprised at how much useless stuff cost. Great tips on discretionary spending. I find that waiting a few days usually cure my need to buy most stuff.

    • Paul 02/28/2013 at 7:03 pm #

      So true Joe. You will have a difficult time controlling spending if you have no idea what you are spending!

  4. Jose 02/28/2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I have gotten pretty good at controlling my impulse buys. In the past, I have probably been one of the worse impulse buyers you can come across. Need a widget? $500? No problem. the two key things that have helped me break that? A discretionary budget and the capability to look at what I want to buy and classify it as a “WANT” or a “NEED”. Almost all of my impulses to buy are “WANTS”.

    • Paul 02/28/2013 at 7:05 pm #

      I like your point about want vs need. I teach a personal finance class to junior high students and we did an exercise in needs vs wants. When you are paying the bills it begins to have real meaning!

  5. Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin 02/28/2013 at 8:41 pm #

    We rarely make impulse buys and when we do its from a savings account that we contribute to monthly that is designated specifically for impulse buys. I keep hearing great things about Quicken we will have to try it out.

  6. Wayne @ Young Family Finance 02/28/2013 at 8:57 pm #

    We saved a lot of money on groceries by following these principles. We also started planning our meals significantly in advance, so that we could take better advantage of sales when they came up. We knew better what to keep on hand in the freezer and avoided so many stops. We are also going to join a CSA this summer to have lower prices on produce.

  7. These are hard habits to break. I cannot tell you how many times I see clients out of control on this stuff. They are always behind on taxes and on managing their affairs. Most times it never changes. Year in and year out they just cannot change their behaviors. The tips you offer are good ones but for many they fall on deaf ears. Bad habits die hard.

    • Paul 03/03/2013 at 9:21 am #

      Impulse spending is all about learned behaviors and satisfying emotional needs. It is very difficult to change behavior especially when there are underlying emotional issues that have not been dealt with.

  8. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce 03/03/2013 at 2:32 pm #

    It’s so true. Control the discretionary spending and you are rocking! Write it all down, get it to bare bones, and then build it up again. Thanks for the great post!

    • Paul 03/04/2013 at 10:23 pm #

      It is a simple process but the difficult part for most of us is the doing without part. We are used to a certain lifestyle and sometimes it is difficult to say no. I personally have no problem saying no or making due with what I already have.

  9. David Smith 03/04/2013 at 5:40 pm #

    We all have to learn how to avoid spending money on things which are not necessary. This is a good post since it provides pointers to consumers. A system of budgeting is what most people need. It helps you avoid impulse spending. The bottom line is to save enough money for the rainy day.

    • Paul 03/04/2013 at 10:31 pm #

      I use Mint on my iPhone to keep track of my spending. Makes it easy to know where my money goes because I have the information at my fingertips. One of the easiest ways to avoid spending money you don’t have is to leave the credit cards at home and use cash. If you don’t have the money it’s tough to spend it!

  10. Thomas @ Finance Inspired 03/06/2013 at 9:25 am #

    I find the most difficult time to stop impulse buying is when i’m hungry and go shopping in the supermarket (for groceries), I end up with lots of food I didn’t really need.

    • Paul 03/08/2013 at 9:09 pm #

      I think we all can relate to that Thomas. I try not to go food shopping when I am hungry.

  11. Jules@Fat Guy,Skinny Wallet 03/06/2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Great ideas! The most important step is being aware of where you are spending too much. If we look at that, it may shock us into reality. Love some of these tips!

  12. Kay Lynn 03/09/2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Mint is a great way to know what you spend by category. I avoid most impulse buys by just not leaving any room in the budget and then following it. :)

  13. John@MoneyPrinciple 03/11/2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Buying things you don’t need and in fact never use destroys money. Just like repairing your house after a gale has blown the roof off, or fixing your car after someone has pranged it. This is all money that can only be spent once – yet the act of spending it helps to keep someone in a job even if it makes you poorer.

    But that’s why the banks have to keep generating money otherwise we would end up in permanent recession and nothing would get done. It’s all entropy really.

  14. Jose 03/12/2013 at 3:53 pm #

    I’m big on the saving up for something you want to buy. If you want it that bad, you’ll find a way to save up for it. Even if it means selling some of the other useless junk that you really wanted and bought in the past :D. Need vs. Want is something everyone should think about whenever they are considering a purchase, especially a large one!

  15. Scott @ Youthfulinvestor 03/14/2013 at 4:58 pm #

    There are so many ways to transition out of bad spending into good spending. Granted, spending by itself is not necessarily good or bad. Many would argue if it is more impulse than not that it can become a problem.

    Imagine this with many guilt purchases like on alcohol or tobacco. What do these provide for someone? A getaway, pleasure, satisfaction, perhaps just the purchase alone feels great. I wonder what it would be like to replace those with more financially responsible vices or purchases. For example, take the most risky components of investing like forex, domain names, or collectables. The same “high” could be achieved from the impulse but, there is the opportunity for a potential appreciation in the purchase.

    Obviously, I’m not recommending one stop buying smokes and clear the bank account to start trading currency, I’m just wondering what the implications are for this. Does the impulse that creates that rush and high come from the fact that it is not supposed to be done, that it is breaking the rules? Or is it more of the addictive properties of that impulse buy?

  16. Jasmine 07/26/2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I am definitely an impulsive spender at times but I like to call myself a “wise shophaulic”. I thrift and bargain shop but even then I still go over board when purchasing items that have deals. I already know why I spend; because I love shopping and taking advantage of a deal. However, I always make sure to take care of my bills and necessities first before splurging.

    This article was definitely helpful and gave some good pointers. For instance, retail therapy makes you feel good about your problems but for so long. So, I have taught myself how to reduce how many times I shop a month. I usually go shopping once a month for clothes and many times it has been at Goodwill or second-hand shops like Plato’s Closet. I tend to now think smart when spending unnecessary money.

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