How I Stopped Spending Money

Written by Dimitra ~ Category: Career & Finance ~ Read Time: 6 min.

Let's face it: in our world, financial well-being is a significant pillar of stability and freedom. Money facilitates everything in our lives, from paying for necessities, such as food and housing, to being able to afford entertainment costs and experiences and traveling around the world -or wherever.

But if we're truly honest, a significant part of our spending is fueled by emotions rather than practical needs. That momentary happiness we get from a new purchase or the urge to retail therapy after a stressful day can be a recipe for overspending and declaring bankruptcy before the end of the month.

Considering that I grew up with parents who were entrepreneurs and I now manage my own company, my finance, accounting, and budgeting skills should have been exceptional all these years. Well, I can admit that I have made some money over the years; however, doing my self-assessment recently, I will admit that I haven’t been an exemplary money saver.

Why? Because I, too, fueled my emotions via useless purchases or kept subscriptions that I never used to avoid the FOMO syndrome (the struggle is real!). Over the years, overspending left me in a cycle of acquiring things that ultimately didn't bring lasting fulfillment and, worse, put a strain on my finances.

So, while scrolling through an e-shop with some incredible summer dresses, I realized that I already have many hanging in my closet and won’t even be able to wear them all this summer. Then, a classic overthinker- I started thinking about the pile of clothes hanging in there and how much money I have spent over the years. Also, I got to think that evening some years ago while having drinks with friends, they kind of “judged” me about something (completely nonimportant), and I instantly just bought an expensive pair of shoes online. And then I got terrified; if I hadn’t spent all that money shopping, I could have built a house or, at least, would have had the advance payment to buy one (pulling my inner Carrie Bradshaw here)!

It was precisely at this moment that I decided it was time to end this ridiculous overspending

woman looking at her purchases unhappy

And I did. It’s easy to spend, but it’s possible to stop. Fortunately, there are ways to break free from this vicious cycle of overspending.

Understand Your Triggers

When I decided it was time to start saving some money, I first had to identify what caused this overspending. Emotional spending is entirely different from spending money to cover basic needs and travel. It is when you purchase stuff in a specific emotional status, not because you need it. For instance, emotional spending could be a lipstick purchase because you feel overwhelmed by PMS and need something to feel better or because you had a stressful week and were rewarded with a spa appointment.

In order to recognize the triggers of overspending, you need to remember your last unnecessary purchases and consider your emotional status at that time. Were you stressed, anxious, bored, or just wanted to reward yourself because you nailed that presentation at work?

The most usual overspending triggers are

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Boredom or loneliness
  • Celebrating or rewarding yourself
  • Seeing a sale or discount
  • Shopping with friends or family
  • Social Media

How To Identify the Triggers

Once you understand your emotional status while making unnecessary purchases, it will be even easier to overcome them. These are the questions I ask myself when I want to identify my triggers.

How am I feeling right now?

Do I genuinely need this item, or is it just a craving?

Have I recently experienced a negative event that might be making me want to spend?

Will this purchase set me back from my savings goals?

Could an alternative activity help me feel better?

What I Did To Stop Overspending

I Went With The “Waiting Rule”

Accepting and identifying our overspending triggers is the first and most important step to stop spending money. After asking yourself the above questions, the next and very helpful step is to implement the “Waiting Rule” whenever you feel like purchasing something you don’t need. How to? Whenever you have an emotional up or down that makes you send this pair of shoes in the cart, don’t purchase it immediately. Step away from the phone, laptop, or iPad, and leave the product(s) in the cart for 48 hours. Then, you can go back and ask yourself whether you need it. You probably don’t; the urge is gone! When the emotions subside, you will be able to think clearly and rationally about whether or not to hit the “purchase” button.

I Minimized The Temptations

Social media is great. The Internet is great as well. However, both can contribute to overspending without even realizing it. The digital world is flooded with influencers, UGC content, and myriads of shops offering sales, as well as lower prices on products and subscriptions. It’s not easy to skip them anyhow. But it’s essential to reduce the time you are spending on them. The more you see influencers having the time of their life on a unique Greek island, promoting the new excellent bathing suit and matched flip flops, the more the urge to be one of them. I can’t count the times I bought something because I saw it on Instagram or an influencer’s promotion; they are uncountable. What you should keep in mind is that influencers are just doing their job: making you want to purchase more and more. So, getting into this vicious cycle of uninterrupted buying and overspending is easy. It’s good to check out what’s new, but make sure you do it wisely and not in situations where you feel susceptible to your emotions. You can unfollow all accounts that make you want to buy more -it worked for me!

I Cancelled All My Subscriptions

Subscriptions are the most sneaky way to spend your money. Netflix, Hulu, Coursera, Alo Moves… the list is endless. All those subscriptions take much of our money without realizing it until we see the bill at the end of the month. And honestly, how much do you use each of your subscriptions? Are they a value for money? Do you benefit from them for the whole month? If so, then tell us your secret time-wise!

woman calculating money

If not, then cancel all your subscriptions for a week and see which of those you absolutely need. For instance, if work gets busy, I don’t think you will be able to watch both Netflix and take up a new course on Coursera. Also, if you are attending Pilates or Yoga courses in a gym, do you also need Alo Moves? Evaluate how your life will look over the next three months (at least), and make informed decisions about the subscriptions you need.

I Started Using My Beauty Products

I know that this may come as a shock, but you don’t need all these little bottles in your bathroom. At least, I didn’t. So, instead of buying the fourth moisturizer, I decided to use the three standing in my bathroom drawer, waiting patiently for their turn. This trick saved me a lot of money, and I also decided which products I liked and which felt friendly to my skin. Buying different products, using them a couple of times, and then purchasing something else does not give your skin the time to understand what works for it and what does not, and makes your skincare inconsistent -and your bank account weak. Get in the bathroom now and start using what you already have. You will be surprised how many skincare products you actually use.

I Explored Investments

This is not something that has to be significant. Baby steps. Instead of having my money hanging in the closet (inner Carrie again!) I decided that an easy and more profitable solution to overspending would be putting my money somewhere I couldn’t touch. So, I invested them. Just talk to a couple of people who have done that and start investing small amounts in the most secure way. Micro-investing apps are a great way to begin exploring investing without any particular risk, and they can eventually give you some money back. Then, when you are more familiar with the whole process, talk to an expert and invest more. So, next time you feel like spending money, instead of buying an extra lipstick (how many colors do you need anyway?), put this money into your investment account and let your money grow!

I Meal Prepped

To be honest with myself, I always thought that meal prepping was an actual waste of time. However, I am always willing to experience new things, so I decided to give it a try and see the results. I was very reluctant to do it since I never had any particular problems deciding what to eat for dinner. Needless to say, after one month of meal prepping, I must have saved a considerable amount of money. Meal prep has helped me in so many ways, not only financially. Since the article's point is about our spending habits, I strongly advise you to start meal prepping as soon as possible. Being organized meal-wise can not only save you time, but you can also buy what you need and avoid food waste. Start planning your meal every week and your bank account is going to be extremely thankful.

These are the actual ways that made me reconsider my finances, start spending my money wisely, and be more considerate. However, stay tuned because The Working Gal Team will soon have more tips and tricks for you to take your finances to the next level!

It took 2 coffees to write this article.

About the author


Dimitra is a Translator and Localization Expert and Language Lover. She loves her job and she runs her own company. When she doesn’t work (rarely) she is practicing her (five) foreign language skills to her coworkers -but, to be honest, nobody understands what she is talking about. She also likes writing. About her job. And that is what she does in The Working Gal.

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