Let me tell you something: I love spending my money on stupid fucking shit.
New notebooks that I don’t need? I buy them.
The Wal-Mart “As Seen On TV” aisle? Sign me up.
It’s a problem. I’m totally willing to spend all my money on dumb shit that I’ll forget about after eight minutes rather than save that cheddar to buy myself something nice.
When I graduated from school and ended up living on a reeeeeaaaalllllyyyyy tight budget, I learned that I couldn’t be doing that kind of shit anymore.
So here are my top tips for how to stop spending your money on dumb shit, whether it’s clothes from Forever21 or Chipotle burritos.
1. Use cash
I started using cash this summer and it literally changed my life. Instead of swiping my card I forced myself to use real physical dollar bills whenever I bought anything, and it did two things:
- It limited me: When I only use cash, I really only have a finite amount to spend at any given time. You can’t buy a $40 sweatshirt when you only have $25 on you.
- It made me question my decisions: Spending cash feels more real to me than using a credit card does, so I ask myself “do I actually need this cold pressed juice from the grocery store?” a lot more often.
To be fair, I don’t really have a problem with online shopping so this tip might not be super helpful for those of you binge shop online. However, if what you’re shopping for online can be bought in real life, try switching it up and actually go to H&M with cash instead of shopping on their site.
I have tried for years to budget and have always been unsuccessful in my endeavors. I realized that though, and I took Chris Peach’s Awesome Money Course and it totally kicked my ass into gear.
Budgeting helps me understand how much money I actually have to spend on dumb shit. Each month I try and leave myself a little money in a “fuck I really want this” category to quell my shopping desires. If I do this, I don’t feel bad about spending the money because I’ve already planned to do it!
3. Make shopping lists
My biggest dumb spending habits came when I didn’t have shopping lists. I’d wander into a store with a vague idea of what I wanted then walk out with 100x more than I thought I was going to.
Having a set list of what you need to get helps prevent you from wandering into aisles that are dangerously seductive. If you walk into a store to get only vegetables, you won’t end up at the makeup aisle. If you need to get just makeup, you probably won’t buy snacks as well. You’ll probably just go where you need to go and then get out.
Another great thing about lists is that you can reduce the number of times that you need to go to the store. If you remember to buy batteries, a gift card, and your groceries all in one trip, you won’t need to go back to Target for one item and end up spending 20 minutes in the dollar section.
4. Adopt a minimalist mindset.
Owners of minimalist homes never bring anything into their house unless it is multi-functional and replaces something they already have.
When you’re about to buy something, ask yourself what the purchase of the thing will be. My spending vice is on notebooks (I have maybe 30), and each time I’m tempted to buy one I ask myself “what will I use this for?”
This doesn’t just have to apply to things though. Since I started living on €1000 per month, I adopted this in terms of my hobbies. I know I can’t afford to go out and buy hot glue guns and nice scrap paper, so I don’t even bring it into the house. Instead, my hobbies have become multi-functional: I am now turning to cooking as a hobby since I have to spend money on food anyway. I am starting a small garden to add decoration to my apartment (and fresh vegetables to my life) and am building the shelves that they will go on in my new place. Everything I do now is multi-purpose because I can’t afford to do anything else.
5. Get honest with yourself
The biggest thing that stopped me from buying stupid things was getting honest with myself. I knew I needed to be a grownup about money if I wanted to succeed, and I had to evaluate what I was spending my money on for me to do that
Being honest with yourself is a gift in life for so many reasons. You can say “This dress doesn’t look good on me” or “I actually don’t like this fucking person and don’t want to be friends with them” and live your life the best fucking way you want to. So, take some time to think about what you actually want to spend your money on, and build a plan for that.