Struggling with over-spending? Afraid to look at your budget? Here are 15 tips for how to spend less and stick with your budget. You got this!
Frugal living is something I care a lot about and have written about a good bit here on the blog. While I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always as disciplined with my money as I’d like to be, there are several things that I’ve learned over the years that have helped me to spend less and stick with a budget.
Today I’d like to share some of those tips with you, so here they are, in no particular order!
15 Tips for How to Spend Less and Stick with a Budget
1. Don’t go shopping unless you actually need something
Common sense? Maybe. But how many of us practice this?
With all the memes I’ve seen about moms browsing Target, I’m pretty sure this is something we can all work on.
If you legit need to shop, avoid browsing the aisles where you know you’ll be tempted. Repeat after me: If you didn’t need it before you entered the store, you don’t need it now.
2. Make a list and stick to it
Lists work. When you make a list you’re able to think through what you need calmly and rationally before you’re in the store being reminded of everything else you might want.
Stick to your list and you’re guaranteed to spend less and are much more likely to stick with your budget.
3. Record every expense manually
During times when our finances have been extra tight, we’ve taken the time to record expenses manually instead of using our regular budgeting app or something similar.
Yes, it’s a bit of a pain, but you’ll be very in-tune with how much you’re spending and much less likely to go over budget.
4. Get on the same page with your spouse
This is such a big one. Dave Ramsey likes to say that marriages are made up of a spender and a saver and I think that this is many times the case.
At any rate, if you’re married you and your spouse will each have your own unique perspective on money. Communicate and form common goals and you’ll find it much easier to stay on budget (and avoid conflict) than if you don’t.
5. Make room for fun money
This may sound a bit counter-intuitive when you’re trying to spend less, but including a category (no matter how small) for “fun money” is important if you can swing it. Even just budgeting five bucks to blow on a fancy coffee every so often is nice. You’ll be able to indulge yourself in a small way with no guilt and you’ll be less likely to get burnt out and completely blow your budget.
6. Make goals and track your progress
There’s nothing like a good goal to provide motivation to spend less and stick with your budget. Tell yourself the “why”, whether it’s to pay off debt, save for a vacation, or save towards a down payment on a house.
Once you know the “why”, diligently track your progress toward that goal. We use Mint.com to track our budget and goals but there are lots of other great options out there.
7. Buy second-hand
Don’t be too proud to buy second hand. This doesn’t mean that your family has to walk around clothed in ratty looking clothes from 20 years ago. In fact, for some kids’ clothes I don’t always find second-hand to be the best option – it just depends. But there are a lot of things you can buy that are just as good second-hand and you can score some pretty amazing deals if you’re just willing to look.
When we moved to our current home we purchased an amazing dining room table with ten chairs off of Facebook Marketplace. It’s a beautiful, sturdy set that will last forever and we paid a fraction of what it would have cost us new.
8. Cut back on your grocery bill
When you’re working to spend less and stick with your budget a great place to start is with your grocery bill. I would venture to say that most people could shave a bit off of their grocery bill with just a little effort.
I’ve detailed more ways to save money on groceries here: 15 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
I also highly recommend this ebook from Crystal Paine at MoneySavingMom.com. It shares 25 simple and effective ways to cut your grocery bill and I found it very helpful. I’m an affiliate for Crystal’s products because they are always well done and worth what she charges (which I can’t say for a lot of ebooks and courses out there!)
9. Make do with what you have
There are so many things you can do to adopt a frugal lifestyle but this is especially key. If it works fine, keep using it. Don’t give in to the urge to update just for the sake of updating.
Sure, having the latest and greatest is fun, but it’s not going to help you with your goal to spend less and stick with your budget.
10. Don’t compare yourself to others
Keeping up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians for that matter) makes zero sense. Do what is best for your family and your finances and don’t worry about what other people have.
Let me let you in on a little secret: just because someone drives a new car or has a big home does not mean that they are doing well financially. For all you know, they may be up to their ears in debt. So stop making your financial decisions based on what other people are doing.
11. Don’t worry about other people’s opinions
Not only should you not compare yourself to everyone else and what they have, but you also shouldn’t worry about what other people think!
A couple years back someone gave Pablo a hard time – in front of me – about “letting his wife drive such an old, unsafe car”. Now to be clear, it was not unsafe, but it was (and is) old and we still do drive it, ha!
Pablo and I are one hundred percent on the same page about our personal decision to stay away from car payments, even when that means driving pretty old cars, and I’m thankful that he doesn’t make let other people’s unasked for opinions sway his financial decision making.
12. Plan a no-spend week regularly
Planning for a no-spend week regularly, whether it’s once a month or once a quarter, can be a big help to your budget.
The idea of a no-spend week is that you commit to not buying anything beyond the essentials (such as basic perishable foods and gas to get to work.) It’s a good practice in self-control and it also helps you to do better at using what you already have.
13. Spend some time learning how to handle your money better
Handling money well is learned. If you feel like you’re not doing a good job with your money, take some time to educate yourself on how you can do better.
Know someone who seems to do a really good job with their money? Ask them to share their best tips with you.
Read books about budgeting and handling your money responsibly. There are so many great options out there and many you can borrow for free from your local library or listen to for free on an app like Hoopla.
You also might want to consider taking a course about personal finances – Financial Peace University is one good option.
14. Consider ditching the credit cards and paying cash
While Pablo and I personally use a credit card, we only use one because we are committed to pay it off on time each month. If you are struggling to do this, consider ditching it completely and paying cash for everything. It’s not as convenient to just use cash but it ensures that you are in-tune with your finances and keeps you from the kind of over-spending that comes easy with a credit card.
15. Be accountable to someone
Accountability works. If you’re struggling with over-spending, ask someone you trust to be your accountability partner. If you’re comfortable with it you might even consider sharing your budget with them so that they can see how you’re doing on a weekly or monthly basis.
Being disciplined with your money doesn’t always feel fun, but if you put in the hard work now you will definitely reap the benefits down the road!
So there you have it, those are my 15 tips for how to spend less and stick with your budget. What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!