How to Stop Impulse Spending: 8 Money-Saving Tips

Laina Brown-Money at Home
by Laina Brown-Money at Home

Do you want to know how to stop impulse spending so you can save money fast? I did, too. I learned how to save money fast by learning how to stop spending money on things that I do not need or want. That way I could maximize my savings and reach my money goals sooner. I’ll show you how we were able to get the impulse spending to stop.

1. Spending freeze

A spending freeze is where you pause spending on optional parts of your life for a set period of time. It’s an extreme way of resetting your internal money-spending mindset. But it’s very useful when you’re trying to pay off debt or save.

2. Pantry eat-down

During one of our spending freezes, we tried to eat everything that was in our pantry. Since you may restock your pantry, you will be amazed at how much food is in there if you eat down to the last item.

3. Put all extra money into savings

As soon as any extra money, like a bonus, comes into your account, put it into savings. We think this strategy is so helpful.

We have a whiteboard on our fridge where we keep track of random money things and doctor visits we need to pay for. So when we get random money from our side hustles, like our Airbnb, sometimes that money goes on the board.

That’s a really dangerous place for extra money to hang out because it makes you feel like you can afford all kinds of things and you lose sight of your goal. Now we put it right into savings.

It’s very unlikely that money will come back out to pay for random fun things. Our savings account is a sacred place where our emergency savings live and it’s only used for medical bills and emergencies.

Money and savings goals

4. Have specific money and savings goals

Have a chart where you track goals. I have a printout of a debt-free chart. But just having a savings goal can be all you need to keep you from spending money. If you don’t have a goal, all you can see is what’s in front of you and what sounds fun right now.

Things like paying off debt, paying off your house, or saving for retirement don’t seem particularly urgent and they don’t seem like they’d bring you much joy, and retirement is probably in the distant future, so when deciding to blow money or put it into a Roth IRA, it’s a no-brainer and more exciting if you do NOT have a chart or goal.

I get so excited about saving for our very specific goals so I know that if I can color in part of my chart with that $100, we won’t go out to dinner because I have to color in that part of the chart! That brings me joy.

5. Don’t go to the store

Every time we end up at a store, we drop $50! Maybe it’s $100! It’s a slippery slope of spending all this money. Our goal is to go to the local grocery store one time a week and to go to Costco one time a month.

How to stop spending money

6. Wait before you buy

Leave things in your cart before you hit “buy.” Don’t purchase anything right away. That gives me time to decide if I really want or need it. This applies in person in a store, too.

You may be in Costco and it’s going to be a beautiful weekend and you suddenly see a paddleboard that you have to have right NOW! Step back from the beautiful weather, the sunshine, and the water to see if you really want to buy that item. Or it could be a great time to talk to your partner about saving for this item, especially if it’s expensive.

It can help to think things through before you impulse buy–such as where would you store this item and how many times would you realistically use it. It may be that you end up postponing the purchase and if you do buy it, it becomes an intentional, not an impulse purchase.

7. Find free fun

Finding something fun and free will keep you too busy to spend money. Think along the lines about free local hiking trails or swimming holes. When we are hiking we can’t be at the store or online spending money at the same time.

So what are some things you love to do that are free or very inexpensive? Or think about a dual-purpose activity. There’s a blueberry farm near us which makes this fun activity also useful when it comes to cooking.

How to stop impulse spending

8. Make it difficult to spend money

This strategy means different things to different people. Some ideas may be to have a very complicated money tracking system so if you go buy some coffee, it will take you too long to do the accounting and budgeting to log it in. But if you geek out on budgets, that strategy isn’t going to help you.

Or, have your blow money in cash but leave it at home so it makes it harder for you to spend in the moment. Or, leave your credit cards at home and bring only a certain amount of money so you don’t cave in and overspend.

Another way to make it difficult to spend money is to be accountable to another person for the money you spent. My husband and I are accountable to one another for all purchases except for our blow money).

So there’s someone on the other end of the conversation saying “So, why did we buy that?” And that is helpful in keeping you from buying excess things because you may get called out on it.

How to stop impulse spending

I hope these ways to stop spending money impulsively were helpful for your own journey. I would love to get some new ideas and pick your brain about free things to do for fun and other ways to stop spending money. Please share with us in the comments below.

Join the conversation
  • Excellent tips for young people just starting out that were never taught to budget.

    Was raised by war children - everything is repaired, not tossed into the local landfill only to go out and purchase another cheap item that it too, will land in a landfill in a couple years and have to spend yet more money again to replace whatever the item was.

    My house does not have a proper "pantry." And was grateful I had lots of "emergency" food aka earthquake supplies when the pandemic hit. If I didn't have that stash, I would have been in deep trouble. So no, I will not consume every last crumb. It is expensive to restock a pantry from scratch. Every part of the country has their Mother Nature related disasters. Better to be prepared than not.

    I am a cash and carry girl. If I can't pay for the item, then I save for it until I can. I never shop on line. And probably the only person on the planet that has never purchased anything from Amazon. No tv in my home, no computer, no internet. I do have a low budget cell phone, but no land line. House paid off, vehicles paid off. Only monthly utilities, insurance, gas and property tax. And only use a credit card for traveling - camping trip reservations - air fare, hotel / motel, rental car, gas, meals and entertainment.

    Every person / family can use these tips to achieve a good nest egg for emergencies, medical expenses, childrens education and more.

    Thank you for sharing what your family does to run a tight ship!

  • Patricia Patricia on Jul 18, 2023

    This is awesome advice . I'm implementing some of these tips . Thank you