11 Tips and Tricks That Will Keep You From Overspending

Just dance / Shutterstock.com

Shopping can cause problems, whether you are a compulsive shopper or an occasional impulse buyer. Spending more than you can afford, running a balance on credit cards and feeling stressed out from debt — all of these behaviors can pose a risk to your financial stability.

Turning the pattern around involves changing habits. Here are tips, strategies and skills to help stop impulse spending.

1. Shop only from a list

gpointstudios / Shutterstock.com

Using a list keeps you focused. Write down what you need, take that to the store, and do not buy anything that’s not on the list. It’s that simple.

Making lists clears your head and helps calm you when you’re on overload. Binge shopping often is a refuge from stress, so keeping stress from escalating is key.

2. Procrastinate

Patty Chan / Shutterstock.com

When you get the urge to buy, give yourself a cooling-off period — an hour, a day or a week. It’s a chance to come to your senses and make certain the item you want is something you can afford that truly contributes to your life.

3. Shop with cash

ptnphoto / Shutterstock.com

Leave the plastic at home. Take enough cash to purchase what you need and no more. You can’t spend what you don’t have.

4. Shop alone — or with a trusted friend

pathdoc / Shutterstock.com

The confusion and chaos of shopping with kids or a spouse can lead you to make purchases without thinking or to buy stuff to pacify the noisy little ones. Shopping solo may give you a calmer, more in-control experience.

If you must shop with someone else, make it a trusted friend. Ask for the friend’s help staying focused on avoiding unplanned purchases.

5. Shop your own closet

Nina Malyna / Shutterstock.com

If you have a shopping problem, you probably also have a closet problem — as in you’ve got more stuff packed in there than you need. Satisfy your hunter-gatherer impulses by trying on clothes you haven’t worn in a while, finding new looks and combinations.

6. Channel the impulse

Lolostock / Shutterstock.com

At a beach near my home, you’ll find people avidly hunting for shells, beach glass and special rocks. They stare fixedly at the ground as they stroll slowly, reaching down to pick up treasures and add them to a bag heavy with beach loot. It’s apparent they’re doing something deeply satisfying that costs nothing.

Look for gratifying, cheap ways to quench your hunter-gatherer impulse. Expressing your creativity — crafting, painting, carving or baking — is another way to satisfy your weary soul.

7. Plan your splurges

Syda Productions / Shutterstock.com

Total withdrawal from shopping probably isn’t possible. Try setting aside funds for sporadic treats — once a week or maybe once a month — and pledge not to indulge yourself otherwise.

8. Start using a spending plan

goodluz / Shutterstock.com

Nothing’s more helpful in getting spending under control than having a realistic grip on your finances. You probably know that a budget is the way to do that. But you may not know how rewarding budgeting can be.

You Need A Budget, a Money Talks News partner, is one of many free tools available for tracking spending. You can get more tips in “Resolutions 2020: Budget Your Way to Financial Goals.”

9. Stop shopping as entertainment

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

If hitting the mall with friends is undermining your finances, change your idea of entertainment.

Find other things to do with any friends who are impulsive spenders.

And make friends who are careful with money and successful at saving. Their habits will likely rub off on you.

10. Don’t buy anything you can’t return

Shayneppi / Shutterstock.com

If you have saved receipts and purchased items you can return, undo the damage after you sober up from a shopping binge.

Before taking out your wallet in a store, ask about the return policy. Don’t shop a sale if purchases are final.

11. Get help

Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

If overspending is damaging your finances, relationships or self-respect, get the help and support you need.

Debtors Anonymous is a free, 12-step program whose purpose is “threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience with the newcomer and to reach out to other debtors.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Ways to Put an End to Junk Mail

Here’s how to keep unwanted mail from clogging your mailbox and trash can.

8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple

Ready for retirement? Not so fast. You might be surprised at some of the issues that come up for couples when they plan.

Watch This: Organize Your Home With Dollar Tree Products

Here’s how to organize every corner of your home using only items from a dollar store.

7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

10 Ways Retailers Trick You Into Spending More

Think you’re a savvy shopper? Find out how retailers persuade you to dig more deeply into your wallet.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.