How To Not Spend Money – 20 Ways To Save For The Future

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How to not spend money is a topic that’s neglected by many because they think that it’s such an easy task to do.

But in reality, most people have a hard time saving money. They always overspend and end up with no savings.

I mean.. I was one of those people too – frequently overspending and wondering why I don’t have any savings. Just because I have a personal finance blog, doesn’t mean I’ve never fallen for any money traps.

But when I realized I was heavily in credit card debt, I decided that I needed to basically stop spending and be smarter with money so that I can one, pay off the debt and be in a better financial position.

So in this post, I wanna share the 20 ways on how not to spend money, taken from my very own experience. 

Resisting the temptations of sales and cheap finds would be difficult at first but as you follow the different ways below, you’ll be on your way to achieving your financial goals 🙂

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How To Not Spend Money – 20 Ways To Save For The Future

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Spending money is part of living, although this act is essential for us to survive, it’s sometimes abused by many which put them in financial trouble.

I experienced the same thing before – I spent more than I earned.

I had little savings although I had a high paying job.

Sadly, most people find themselves in the same position as well.

Some are even stuck in that position.

So let’s break out from that mindset and see the different ways on how to not spend money below 🙂  

These are the ways that have helped me along the way to change for the better (financially). I’m excited to share this with you because I know it can help you too.

1. Ditch The Excuses

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Nothing will happen until you admit that you’ve been overspending on non-essential things.

Some people are in denial of this fact and that’s one factor that holds them to change for the better.

Ditch the excuses and be real with yourself.

Check your previous big purchases and ask did you really need to buy it? Or did you buy it because it was on sale? Sometimes these brands are so smart with their marketing that they can really entice people to buy.

If you’re about saving and not spending money, you need to be smarter than them!

2. Have Financial Goals

You can’t win if you don’t have a goal. Setting a financial goal and remembering it is a mental hack that can benefit you.

Are you planning to invest? Buy a house? Purchase a car? Get out of debt? Whatever it is, write it down and remember it.

You can even go as far as thinking about the emotions you’ll feel when you achieve that goal. Having a goal will give you a clear picture of what you’re saving for.

You always go back to your goals if you’re debating to yourself on whether you should spend on something that isn’t your priority.

3. Create  A Budget

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Now that you know why you’re doing this, the next part of saving money is how you’re going to do it.

Almost every financial expert and blog will tell you to create a budget.

It might sound cliche already but cliches are cliches for a reason. And in this case, creating a budget is always mentioned because it works!

To create a budget you need to go back to memory lane and look at what you’ve been spending daily, weekly, and monthly. If you can’t remember, do a trial for a week or a month. The only thing that you’ll differently do this time would be keeping track of your every expense or keep the receipt of your purchases.

Once you’re done with your trial period, look back at your purchases and spending. Make a table, put in on an excel sheet. And there you will see where you overspent and what took up most of your money.

Now ask yourself again, is it worth it to be spending this much money on these things? On Starbucks? On restaurants? On shopping? Remember your goal.

When you’re unsure about purchasing something, try to ask this: will this purchase make me reach my goals faster? 

If the answer to the question is an astounding NO, then you don’t need that item.

According to Bank of America, below are the steps to creating a budget:
a) Take note of your net income

Net income is your take-home money. It’s your income minus all tax and deductions.

The number that you come up with is the basis of your budget. So make sure that you’re on point in determining your net income.

b) Track your spending

A budget is useless if you don’t take the time to track your expenses. The faster you list down that expense from the time of purchase, the better. Because you rid the probability of forgetting about it. 

When I track my expenses, I use Google Sheets. It’s convenient for me because I can just pull up my phone and type it down. If you saw all your purchases, it would be much easier to see where you can cut back your expenses. 

When tracking you can separate it into two categories – fixed expenses and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are your rent, debt, electrical bills, car payments, and utilities. Variable expenses are the ones that can fluctuate every week or month. These are your groceries, expense on coffees, food, and entertainment. It’s in this category where you can find things to cut back on.

Here’s an important tip: Don’t wait for two days before you list down your expenses. There’s a good chance that you’ll forget your other purchases if you let a day go by.

c) Set Financial Goals

Setting a goal can make the process of not spending money be a bit more “easier”. To Bank of America, they believe in setting short and long term goals.

I believe in that strategy as well. Short term goals will make you go on further because of the feeling that it gives you. It produces some type of satisfaction if you’re able to accomplish it. It makes you motivated to stay on the path of saving money.

To many people, a short term goal can be being out of debt. Can you imagine being debt-free? It’s a feeling of finally removing that burden you’ve been carrying at your back. You feel a sense of relief and relaxation! Whatever it is, set short and long term goals! 🙂

d) Make a plan

Go back to where you tracked your expenses and see where you can adjust your spending on. Again, with fixed expenses, you can’t really adjust the amount there, so focus on your variable expenses. 

Set up a budget on those things under that category. Should you decrease it by 50% or 60%? Can you totally crush off that expense? If you can, the better! 

See what things in that category fall under your wants and needs. Needs are the basic things you need to survive. An example of this would be transportation. You might need to go to work using your car so you need gas. Or you probably ride a bus or train so you need to pay for tickets. Those things belong to your needs.

Wants are things that your life will be dull without. They can be that Netflix subscriptions, gym membership, eating out thrice a week, buying coffee every morning, etc. This step is very important because this will determine how much you’ll be spending on those things.

e) Adjust your habits

Changing your previous habits can definitely help the overall process of saving – It’s actually the key to go from overspending to saving. Can you skip eating out with friends to dining in your home? Can you skip movie nights and watch from your house? Can a girls night out be a get together in your place?

Adjusting habits that help you save money is a good way to start this process. If you do so, give it a month or two and you’ll see the benefits of this action by an increase in savings.

f) Keep checking in

If you overspend your budget in the first week or two, that’s okay because reviewing your budget is part of the process. Reviewing where you overspent allows you to stay on track to getting the perfect budget. 

So if you go over your budget, go back to the drawing board and keep adjusting!

If you’d like to get the exact budgeting template I use, grab it below! 🙂

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4. Leave Your Credit Card

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This might be counterintuitive since your goal is to save cash and now I’m recommending to leave your card at home and bring cash outside.

But doing this will save you money down the road.

This is the pitfall that most people fall into – being too dependent on credit cards. Nothing bad with credit cards as long as you have a low utilization rate.

Credit utilization rate or credit utilization ratio refers to how much percentage of your credit limit are you using. If you have a credit limit of $100,000 and you have a current balance of $50,000 this means you have a credit utilization of 50%.

Experts say that healthy credit utilization is at 30% or below. But unfortunately, that’s not followed by many.

They usually end up using their credit card close to their credit limit which leads to a balance that they can’t afford to pay on time. That’s the reason why I recommend leaving your credit card until you reach your goals.

You might keep swiping your card for every purchase and you think you’re saving money, but that’s what most people think too until the billing statement comes in the mail…

Then they realized they overused their credit card and ended up paying more money to repay that debt. And if they can’t pay that debt on time, they’ll be faced with different charges which again leads to paying more money.

That’s a lot of payments, guys. Credit cards aren’t bad, the way people use them is what gives it a bad reputation.

Instead, I suggest you do the next step.

5. Bring Enough Cash

Now that you’ve left your credit card, it’s time to only bring enough cash when you go out. This will force you to stick to the cash you brought because if you overspend on just one thing, you’re left short with cash.

This is helpful especially when you’re out for a grocery trip. We tend to overspend on groceries because we’re confident with our credit cards. 

But this time, you’re forced to only buy the essentials and probably a bit of things coming from your needs list. And if you go overboard at the cashier, you know what items you need to give back.

6. Get Off Social Media

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Whether you like it or not, most of the things we see in social media are people showing off the good side of their lives – traveling, a new car, a new home, a lavish celebration, all the good things.

This then creates an idea in our head that maybe we too need to spend on those things.

There’s a voice in our heads saying, “Hey you haven’t bought something new this month, maybe today’s the time” or you start convincing yourself that maybe you do need to travel.

You start having those conversations in your mind and the more you think about it, the greater the possibility that you’ll give in to it.

Nothing wrong with those ideas but if you’re serious about not spending money, those things can wait. Go back to your goals and remember which one is your priority right now.

7. Resist Sales

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At this point in your life, you can’t fall for sales at the mall anymore (I know I can’t).

Most of these things fall under the wants category and you should be focused on spending on the needs part so that you can save more. If you’re an avid shopper, it will be hard at first to resist sales but you need to push through those temptations and think about your goals. OR you can opt to only bring cash with your shopping list 🙂

PsychologyToday wrote an article on 5 ways on how you can just do that:
a) Count to 10

According to the article, instead of counting to 10, count to 1,200! They mentioned that for your mind to be back to normal and be stable after being emotionally worked up, it needs 20 minutes to rest. 

I guess if you saw the sale you’ll feel emotions rush in your body.  There’s that feeling of buying something at a discount while being fought off by the feeling of needing to save. So there’s a mental battle that’s going on in your head.

To think clearly and logically, try to wait for 20 minutes. Walk around the mall first and let your mind wander off. After that time, think about it again. 

b) Beware of the frenzied crowd

They also mentioned that some businesses hire a crowd to pretend to be ecstatic about the items. Why? Because it gets people curious about the product and sometimes that’s enough for them to convert into a sale. 

I’m sure you’ve heard of limited products or a brand that announces that an item has limited production. It’s made that way so the company can increase the price because of its limited edition and it also gives out a feeling of urgency and competition among consumers.

c) Use cash

Yup, PsychologyToday also believes in spending cash instead of using a card. Although credit cards bring us convenience, cash is the way to go if you’re trying to save.

Sometimes there are fewer emotions involved when you’re paying via credit card. You don’t feel the same “pain” when paying with cash. With cash, you feel that you’re “losing” money.

d) Visualize the item NOT on sale

This is my favorite point in this list. They mentioned that if the item wasn’t on sale, would you still look at it? If the answer is no, then you didn’t need that item in the first place. 

The item only got your attention because it was on sale. And when you saw that it was on sale, your mind starts to convince you that it may be a good buy since you’re buying it at a discount.

You indeed buy the item at a cheap price but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re still going to pay for it. The next scenario would be imagining if the item’s price is the sale price. Would you still buy it? Is it a steal? Is it still appealing to you?

If again the answer is no, then don’t consider buying it. 

e) Don’t feel guilty

When reading this part, the article doesn’t seem so strict after all. It mentioned that if you really love to shop sale items, you can create a budget for it. 

But make sure you stick to your budget. They included this because this makes the process of saving money and budgeting more fun. Although this point isn’t for a lot of people, but for consumers who want a loosey-goosey budget, they can add this.

I personally prefer to create a sinking fund for this. So that I’ll have a sum of money to spend during crazy sales 🙂

8. Sleep On It

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If you’re not sure whether you should buy an item or not, try sleeping on it first. Let the day go by, don’t make a decision right then and there.

When you’re making an instant decision, you’re still emotional. Because you just recently saw an item for sale and there’s a good chance that you’re biased. If you wake up the next day and you still think that it’s a good buy then buy it as long as you’re still within your budget.

9. Prioritize Your Spending

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Most people tend to shop first before paying their bills. They do this because they want to satisfy their “cravings” first before doing any adult responsibilities.

I don’t believe that at all. To me, I need to pay the bills first and buy essential things before I start considering shopping. If it’s not necessary to shop then I won’t do it.

People can actually have more money for shopping and saving if they didn’t have much debt and bills to be paid. If your bills only consist of utilities and rent, then you’re able to spend money on little shopping and big savings.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case. Most people have credit card debt and mortgage and those two things eat up most of their budget. So prioritize to clear out those things first 🙂

10. Create A Meal Plan

Frequently eating in restaurants is a sure way to spend more than you earn. Eating out is expensive since we don’t just dine with meals but we also order drinks and sometimes dessert on the side. 

If you’re serious about saving money, a way that you can do that is to create a meal plan for the week!

When you’re doing your grocery trip, make sure to have some budget for your prepared meals. If you’re not sure on how to cook meal preps, check out Steph And Adam’s Youtube Channel, they have 100+ videos on different meal prep videos!

Here’s one of their video where Adam prepares 6 meals with beef 🙂

Most meal preps are healthy and are placed in containers that are easy to bring. So if you’re thinking of cutting back expenses on food purchases, you can bring your prepared meals to the office!

11. Pay Off Those Debts Immediately

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Boost your savings by taking out the one thing that’s eating up your monthly budget – debts. If you’re planning to avoid spending to save more money, paying off debt should be one of your priorities! It should be in the top 3 of your priority list.

The faster you pay your debts, the quicker you save on interest payments and other charges. Do your best to clear this problem first. 

If you’re stuck with this problem, I wrote an article listing 18 ways to get rid of credit card debt.

Now my personal advice is to clear any smaller debt that you have first, that might be your credit card or personal loan debt. When it comes to bigger debt, my advice is to sit down with a financial planner and let them calculate for you whether it will be more worth it for you to settle the debt first OR you can actually put the extra money into an investment that can bring you greater returns in the future. 🙂

12. Delayed Gratification

Delayed Gratification is used to combat impulse decisions. People usually do this to put off what they want for now in order to get something better later on.

But in the context of not spending, delayed gratification is used to really think about if you need the item. It makes the consumer practice patience and neglect impulse decision which can be very beneficial when it comes to not spending money and saving.

When you find yourself thinking whether you should buy this or not, try to walk it off, sleep on it, and practice delayed gratification. You’ll be a better consumer when you do these things.

13. Make Your Money Work

Once you do things above and you’ve successfully lowered your spending and increased your savings, don’t be tempted to purchase unnecessary things again. Don’t go back to where you started. 

With that new savings, you can put that money to work 🙂 This makes you not only work for money but you’re also making money work for you.

How do you that? You place them in a savings account with good interest rates, retirement funds, and investment accounts. Those are the different places where you can put your money in for them to grow while you’re still earning on the side.

That is the ultimate hustle in life – To have multiple sources of income while you live below your means. Once you do that, you’ll reach your small goals in no time and your long term goals much faster 🙂

14. Avoid Shopping Applications

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Who’s guilty of scrolling through shopping applications and then find themselves at the checkout page minutes after….?

Although some people aren’t tempted by the sales in the mall, they are tempted by various marketing techniques by shopping applications. Talk about all those notifications…

People at home are in worse conditions because they are targeted by shopping applications in the comforts of their own home. Because when you’re comfortable, you tend to be lax and forget about the important things.

With the convenience of automating credit cards, buying stuff online can be as easy as texting someone – fast, easy, and can be done anywhere.

So if you always find yourself buying things online, one sure way to avoid that would be deleting the application. It’s as simple as that.

15. Borrow

If you’re planning to purchase something and you can already see that you’re only going to use it once, consider borrowing the item from your family, friends, or neighbors.

We’ve all done this right? Buying something that we only used once. So think about it first if it’s something you can borrow from other people.

16. Time = Money

The way this works is that you calculate the price of the item and count how many hours you’ll have to work to buy it.

For example, there’s a $1,000 item that you want to purchase and you’re getting paid $50/hr at your work. This means that you’ll have to work 20 hours to pay for that item!

Now the next step is to determine whether it’s worth it. Is 20 hours of work worth it to get that item?

Remember you can see money as time. Because you sacrifice time to earn money, right? So when you by something, it’s logical to convert it to time. If you’re wasting money, you’re wasting time as well – time that you will never be able to get back.

If you’re going to spend money, make it meaningful and valuable!

17. Have A Separate Account

It’s always wise to have at least two bank accounts – one for your payroll and another one for your daily spendings.

If you only limit the amount you transfer to your daily spending account, you’ll be forced to work with that money. This will make you be much more careful with your spending.

18. Have An Emergency Fund

Emergencies are bound to happen to everyone. And sometimes emergencies come when we least expect it. The only way to fight that surprise is to be prepared for it!

What happens to most people is they encounter an emergency and they’re not ready for it. That ends up happening is they loan so that they can pay for that emergency. That loan then adds another expense that needs to be paid off.

So allocate some money towards an emergency fund to save money in the future.

Related: How To Save For An Emergency Fund – All Things You Need To Know!

19. Think Of The Consequences

If you don’t like where you are financially, think about what happens if you don’t change your spending habits. Your situation won’t get better and you’ll be wishing that you changed earlier in your life.

You might think that shopping for clothes, buying that furniture, going on that trip are just small things in life but you should know that those small things add up. And if you don’t stop, it becomes bigger and bigger until you’re not able to handle that financial burden anymore.

Nothing wrong with rewarding yourself once in a while, but you need to be honest with yourself if it’s the time to buy those things. Consider your debts, mortgages, and other loans.

20. Mindset Is The Key

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All the different ways mentioned above is connected to changing your mindset.

From sleeping it off, to prioritizing your spending, to having financial goals, and to bringing enough cash, all of those things are set out to change your mindset in spending.

Saving money and resisting temptations is a hard thing to do. That’s already given since more than half of the US population brings some kind of debt. If it was so easy, then the percentage of people with debt should be close to zero but it’s far from that.

In this path of not spending money, it’s going to be a psychological battle. It’s hard but the rewards are fruitful and satisfying knowing that you’re doing all of this for a better financial future and financial goals!

Take It Easy, It’s A Long Journey

If you go over the budget for the first month or two, don’t be too hard on yourself. Again, go back to the drawing board and adjust the budget.

If you can’t delete the shopping applications, then try to hide it within your phone. So that you won’t see it frequently – out of sight, out of mind.

If you’re tempted to buy sales at malls, buy only one quantity at a reasonable price and make sure you don’t give in to temptations for a few months again.

The road to saving and not spending money is a long one, so don’t be too hard on yourself. 

Just remember your financial goals to remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place.?

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