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10 Tips to Stop Spending – Confessions of a Shopaholic

10 Tips to Stop Spending – Confessions of a Shopaholic

How can you Reduce the Urge to Splurge and Stop Spending?

I’ll admit, I’ve been a shopaholic.

At various times in my life, I spent up big, spent all I had, got in significant debt (to me) because of spending and didn’t want to face it.

If I was to meet friends, we met at the shopping centre.

Every week I bought new clothes before I had kids then once I had kids I bought stuff for them.

Sometimes, the shopaholic in me blew money at Target or Kmart on nothing, other times I spent way over budget on food.

With this in mind, and knowing how and why I have been a shopaholic at times in my life, here are my tips to stop spending.

10 tips to stop spending and control your money
Image of woman jumping with shopping bags next to colourful wall. Text reads 10 tips to stop spending.

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1. Know why you Spend and What Void You’re Trying to Fill that void

Emotions were my leading cause, especially when I was younger.

In my teens, I had issues with depression and self-esteem so shopping was used as an escape.

My marriage was abusive from the start, so I had severe depression and other issues.

I did not feel loved and used shopping to get a dopamine hit.

A new outfit made me feel better for a bit.

It never lasted long and I wanted that feeling as much as I could so every payday I bought more.

Realising the reason behind the desire to spend helps you determine how to end that cycle.

As an adult, my spending got out of control when I felt unattractive, unloved or depressed e.g during my abusive marriage when I finally left.

Also, when I lived in Melbourne with an unstable partner, whom I later found out had drug and alcohol addictions. I was miserable.

Knowing this, instead of going shopping, I aim to go for a run, do yoga, go to the gym or catch up with friends at a park or at home.

Finding an activity to distract me and not spend money helped curb my spending.

Check out 7 tips for managing finances when you have mental health issues.

10 tips to stop spending and control your money

2. Sanity Money

Instead of blowing money every time you get it, select an amount you allow yourself to spend each pay, but don’t go over it.

I call this sanity money since I first read about it 20 years ago by Anita Bell.

More recently, it has been called ‘splurge’ by The Barefoot Investor and many are having success with it.

It is an amount I can keep to do whatever I want with whether it be buying new shoes or going out with friends. It is no guilt, carefree spending money.

Sanity or Splurge money helps limit the risk of overspending in other areas and means I am getting what I want without having to rework the budget, put it on the credit card or jump through any other hoops.

Check out how to create a budget and stick to it as well as how to stick to a budget as a single income family for more budget tips.

3. Leave the Cards at Home

Ok, this was more effective before cards were readily available on our phones and cardless cash was available through ATMs.

When I was dealing with this and changing my spending habits, I left the house without my cards.

Usually, it’s my phone, keys and headphones in my pocket, nothing else, because I walk most places.

This stops impulse buying because I don’t have the money on me to spend.

I didn’t connect my main cards to my phone. Instead, only my sanity money was connected to help curb spending.

Now, I have it all connected everywhere and it’s not an issue because I broke the habit by limiting my access to my money for a while.

10 tips to stop spending and save more

4. Block Sites

If you know you are likely to spend up a storm online, block the sites for a while.

Chrome has an extension you can install called Self Control which allows you to block certain websites for however long you choose.

Sometimes limiting your access is what is needed to stop spending or reduce the urge.

5. Add up the Cost of all Your Purchases

How much have you spent unnecessarily in the last week? Month? Year?

Add it up, review your bank statements, look at items around your home, and determine how much you have spent on stuff.

When I did this, I felt sick.

While I do use most things, there are plenty of purchases throughout my life that were completely unnecessary.

Once you have added up the cost, work out how long you had to work to make that amount.

Once, I saw I wasted $4,000 over a specific period.

When I converted that to hours worked, it was devastating.

I do the time cost analysis for all expenses now.

Knowing how much I have to work to buy something changes the value.

10 tips to stop spending and control your money
Image of woman ordering at a cafe with cafe menu board next to her. Text reads 10 tips to stop spending.

6. Sell What You Don’t Use

Now you see all the things you have bought and how much they cost you, sell off anything you aren’t using.

You’ll quickly see you don’t get back anywhere near what you spent on the items and it is a lot of wasted time and money having bought these items.

Check out how to make over $10,000 a month buying things to resell for tips to do this effectively.

7. Work out Your Opportunity Cost

As mentioned in tip 5, work out the true cost. How much do you make per hour?

How many hours did you have to work to pay for these items?

That calculation alone often makes people feel uncomfortable. Take it further.

How much time did you spend shopping for and purchasing this item?

How much time was spent moving it around your home, dusting it or cleaning it when you weren’t really using it?

How much time has it taken you to de-clutter and either sell or get rid of it from your home?

Add those hours to the number of hours spent obtaining the item.

How much of your time and money was truly spent on this item?

Now, if you spent an hour browsing then buying something and another hour moving it from here to there in your home, listing it to sell and posting it, you’ve spent two hours on it.

That is two hours lost. If the item cost $50 and you earn $25 per hour, that is another 2 hours lost because it is two hours you worked to pay for an item you don’t want, need or use.

Also, if it cost you two hours of time to acquire and dispose of the item and you earn $25 per hour, realistically, the item cost you $100 because those two hours spent on that item could have been spent working.

What could you have done with four hours?

How often are you making these purchases that cost you time and money that would be better spent doing something to improve your financial future?

Next time you go to buy something, work out how much it is really going to cost you in time and money. Do you still want it?

Also, read 18 time-saving tips for busy mums.

Image of woman holding shopping bags. Text reads 10 tips to stop spending.

8. Have A Cooling Off Period

Instead of buying something on the spot, have a cooling-off period, just like you do when buying a house.

Give yourself one week or one month before buying it then at the end of that time if you still want the item, work out how it fits in your budget.

The bulk of impulse buys are forgotten about or not used. Instead of buying everything you want, give yourself time and space to truly determine what you want to spend your money on.

Personally, I use a delayed gratification list. It’s a note on my phone I can access anywhere and add to.

Anything on there, I have to wait 30 days before I can buy it. Most of the time, I don’t buy it.

9. Stop Notifications

Cancel store emails, unsubscribe from everything you can, unfollow your favourite brands on social media and put a no junk mail sign on your letterbox.

If you don’t know the sale is on, you won’t feel like you are missing out and are less likely to spend.

For most reward programs you need to provide your email so if you do want to keep them, allocate a separate email address for all of it.

This way you can choose when you access it.

10. Don’t go to the Shops Unless you Have to

Instead of making time with friends at the shops go to the park, meet at each other’s homes or plan another activity that doesn’t cost money.

Shopping doesn’t need to be the way we spend time with each other.

Create a menu plan so you only need to do grocery shopping once instead of multiple trips to the supermarket.

Plan your clothing purchases and choose not to go to the shops unless it is essential.

10 tips to stop spending and save more

Why You Need to Stop Shopping and How to do it

For some, shopping is a true addiction, the same as alcohol, gambling and other harmful options. Spending can get out of control, ruin relationships and lives.

If you are spending more than you earn, it is time to look at what to change.

The tips above help but if it is a true addiction, professional help is necessary too.

There’s no shame in getting help from a counsellor or therapist.

If you are addicted to shopping, there is an underlying reason for the addiction.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I had depression, felt unloved, unwanted and was suffering abuse. I sought the ‘feel good’ feelings through shopping.

Since I was religious, I didn’t drink, smoke, take drugs, gamble or any of that.

Shopping was exactly the same in terms of addiction though.

There is help out there for you.

Use the tips above but if there are underlying reasons and you can’t stop it, get professional help.

What to do if you Spend More Than you Earn?

With the cost of living rising and the ease of pay later programs, it is easy to spend more than you earn.

If your expenses outweigh your income, there are a few things to do.

Firstly, assess your spending honestly. Is it really the cost of living or are you blowing your budget somewhere?

If it is the cost of living, check out how to survive when the cost of living keeps going up for loads of ideas on how to reduce it.

Next, set a realistic budget, stick to it and look at ways to make more money.

Check out how to create a budget and stick to it plus 23 ways to make money on the side in 2023 to help.

What tips would you add to stop your spending? 

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JoJo Tabares

Tuesday 26th of July 2016

I've never purchased anything I didn't really need. Even when my dh made a lot of money, I was pretty frugal.


Monday 25th of July 2016

Great tips! I started using an online budget tracker that really made me see how much I was spending! It definitely adds up!!

Michelle Knight

Saturday 23rd of July 2016

This post has great detail and information. Thanks for linking to Talk It Up Thursday!


Friday 22nd of July 2016

Not spending can be difficult! A tip that helps me is if I use cash vs. a credit card. Using cash makes me realize how much I'm actually spending as I'm counting out the bills.

- Cait |

Jennifer Hall

Thursday 21st of July 2016

This is a really great post. I can relate well with you. I also go shopping when I am feeling depressed and then later regret spending all that money on stuff I did not need. I am looking forward to trying out this advice. Thank you.

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