Does spending less feel like a long slog of coupon clipping, ramen noodles, and watching everybody have more fun than you on Instagram?
Friend, it doesn’t have to. Hand to God, I swear by these tricks to spending less that feel nigh-on painless. Like, you might not even notice that you’re spending less till you get your surprisingly small credit card bill.
A giant asterisk: these tricks will absolutely help you buy fewer things you don’t need. HOWEVER. They won’t help you get to the root of why you’re buying things you don’t need in the first place. That’s a much bigger endeavor.
That said, this is a great place to start and when you’re ready to really, actually change your relationship with money, this will help.
9 Painless Ways To Trick Yourself Into Spending Less
1. Unsubscribe from newsletters that tempt you
Do you struggle to resist the siren song of J Crew’s discount codes? Are you constantly adding things to your cart so you can qualify for the free shipping? If you impulse buy things you don’t need everytime a well-designed newsletter appears in your inbox, opt out.
If you don’t want to completely abandon your retailers of choice, you can use Unroll.me to wrap all your newsletters into one daily digest. You can also unsubscribe from their newsletters but still follow along on social media so you don’t miss anything truly huge.
2. Block yourself from websites where you spend too much
If unsubscribing from newsletters isn’t enough to curb your regrettable online purchases, consider blocking yourself from certain websites entirely.
Maybe you can’t let Anthropologie.com ever darken your url bar again. Maybe the problem is Ebay or even Amazon. Whatever the site, you can block yourself from it; I like Block Site for Chrome. If you do a lot of your shopping on your phone, here’s how to block sites there.
3. Turn off your computer’s autocomplete credit card option
It’s really easy to buy things when all that’s required of us is two mouse clicks. Make it just sliiiiiightly more difficult by removing your credit card info from your computer. Here’s how to do it in Chrome.
If we can’t be bothered to stand up and go get our credit cards, we probably didn’t really want the item that much to begin with, did we? ?
4. Order online and pick up at the front of the store
If you go to Target for socks and a lime and emerge $157.65 later, consider their Drive Up option. You’ll only order want you actually need and won’t be lured in by sales racks and pretty end caps.
Here are 17 other stores that offer online order, IRL pick up if you want to avoid lines and store temptations.
5. Eat something before you go shopping
You know that tip about not going grocery shopping when you’re hungry? Turns out you shouldn’t really do any shopping – grocery or otherwise – if you’re hungry.
Multiple studies have shown that people who shop hungry spend 60-70% more (!!!) than their non-hungry peers. They buy more clothes, electronics, home goods, everything. Being hungry increases our desire to acquire and our brains aren’t always great at realizing that our bodies are trying to acquire food, not some bookends shaped like pineapples.
I will never stop telling you to keep healthy snacks in your bag, glove compartment, and office. They’ll keep away from the vending machine and probably away from the sales racks.
6. Give yourself a three-day waiting period
If you’re on the fence about a purchase – if you don’t emit a low grown of “YESSSSS” when you try it on or hold it – give it a minute.
Take a photo of the tags and product info. If it’s a boutique or local business, grab their business card. If you still find yourself thinking about it three days later (and you can afford it), pull the trigger. If you forget all about it (which you probably will), great! More money for things you’re not on the fence about!
7. Put yourself on a cash-only budget
Did you know that we’re much slower to spend cash than we are to use our credit cards? And we value the things we buy with cash more than the things we put on a card?
One of the reasons Bank Boost* is so effective is that we all put ourselves on cash-only fun budgets for six weeks. That’s six weeks of looking in our wallets and knowing exactly how much fun money we have left for the week. Six weeks of feeling the pinch when we have to hand over nine singles for a latte and a muffin because we didn’t eat breakfast. A ‘cash cleanse’ is a great reset!
8. Put a reminder in your wallet
If most of your spending goes on your credit and debit cards, tuck a reminder in there next to them.
My free ebook How To Stop Buying Shit You Don’t Need comes with a wallet-sized set of questions to ask yourself before buying something. You could print out a wallet-sized photo of something you’re saving for or even customize the image on your debit card to remind you!
9. Unfollow social media accounts that tempt you to spend
One of the best things I’ve ever done for my mental health was unfollow accounts that made me feel less-than and fill my feed with people who are in my size, age, and tax bracket. No more millionaires staying in luxury hotels, no size-two 23-year-olds.
If you find yourself feeling shoppy after scrolling Instagram, consider the images you just pored** over. Are you feeling called to buy all new furniture after staring at photos posted by professional designers? Do you find yourself shopping for makeup after falling down an eyeliner tutorial Youtube hole?
If someone or something is nudging you to buy things you don’t need, cull them from your feed and replace them with accounts that make you feel great.
I want to hear from you! If you’ve successfully quelled those shopping urges, tell us how you did it in the comments so we can learn from you.
** YES IT’S PORED
I really like your posts on getting organised and saving money! I’m going to try the three-day waiting period trick. I always buy on impulse, telling myself I could always return something within a month… and I never do!
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
Bless you, you writerly goddess you! I’m 41. It’s the first time I was told it’s “pored over the information in there” not “poured over the information in there”. And all the other good stuff, too. Of course. Hugs.
I had to put those asterisks there because so many people have tried to incorrectly correct me about it! ?
One of my peeves! Thank you! Also BATED BREATH.
Love the granola bar in the glove box. As a parent, it is a life saver with a kid who crashes when hungry, but I end up eating it sometimes too. I have to set up a reminder to replenish. Grocery shopping when hungry leads to BAD decisions.
I purposely buy granola bars that are NOT my favorite so I only eat them if I’m truly hungry!
These are really great tips. I especially love the first one about unsubscribing from tempting newsletters. Solid gold advice that I will be implementing soon.
Hey, Sarah! my issue is that I spend more than I make… on groceries, and pet medications, and school tuition, and car repairs, and actual bills… how do I stop that kind of spending?