Couple looking at a store receipt together with a shock look on their face

If you’d take the time to track your spending for a month, what would you find? Unless you’re super intentional and live very frugally, I’d bet the data would show you’re overspending in some areas of your finances. Let’s talk about how to stop wasting money and spend less.

Oftentimes we don’t even realize how much money we waste on a weekly basis, and I probably don’t have to tell you how much a small amount of overspending can add up to over time.

But there are small habits you can adopt that will help you spend less and waste less money on unnecessary expenses.

How to Stop Wasting Money

A big part of living frugally is spending less money on the things that don’t matter as much or bring value to your life to free up the funds to spend on the things that are most important to you.

Let’s talk about seven habits that will help you stop wasting money so you can use that money for the things that matter most.

1. Order Groceries Online

One of the biggest places we waste money is at the grocery store – and if you’re bringing littles with you…forget it.

A great way to combat the munchies or spontaneous checkout line purchases is by ordering groceries online!

There are so many money-saving advantages to ordering your groceries online, such as being able to see the running total in your virtual cart while you’re placing your order.

It lets you see immediately if you’re going over budget and allows you to quickly and easily remove items to get yourself back on track.

By using grocery pickup, you’ll also avoid all of the spontaneous purchases that happen when cruising the aisles and something catches your eye – these extra finds add up fast!

You’ll be able to be more intentional when shopping and stick to your meal plan and grocery list, which will keep you from wasting money when you grocery shop.

No Walmart in your area? Try Instacart instead; they’ll actually deliver right to your doorstep, and if the money you save is more than the delivery fee, then you’ll be saving yourself time and money!

2. Group Orders Together

Online retailers – and Amazon, more specifically – want us to continually place orders for items as often as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I go through some seasons (hello, pandemic) where it’s easier to just order one or two things I “need” a few times a week…it’s just so convenient!

These impulse purchases can easily cause you to overspend.

Get into the habit of keeping a list of what you’d like to order and set a specific schedule (monthly, bi-monthly, weekly, etc.) when you’ll place one order and include everything you need rather than multiple orders each time something pops in your head.

This will impact your overspending in a few different ways:

  • You’ll be forced to get creative and find things you already own to accomplish the job of the item you want to purchase.
  • When you place your order you may decide you no longer need (or even want) some items on your list.
  • Grouping multiple items together often qualifies you for free shipping or tiered coupons.

3. Abandon Your Cart

Another great habit to get into when shopping online is to add the items to your cart that you intend to purchase, then walk away.

Yep, just walk away…this will accomplish two things.

First, often the retailer will send you an abandoned cart email notifying you that you forgot to complete your order and beg you remind you to return to their website to finalize your purchase.

Often, they will even include a coupon or other discount to entice you to complete your order.

Second, you may find you no longer even care to purchase the item(s). See, much of our spending is driven by outside forces.

You may have been experiencing some type of emotion or other feelings i.e. sadness, anxiety, or even hunger, that had you wanting to spend money.

Once the feeling passes you may realize you have no need for the item or don’t even want it.

4. Pay Yourself First

This is a big one…get in the habit of saving money first and spending only what’s left.

This will ensure you’re wasting less money because you essentially have less to waste.

Paying yourself first simply means to “pay yourself” by saving money; this way, the money will surely be saved instead of sitting around in your regular bank account and ultimately getting spent.

Not only will this ensure you’re not wasting money, but it will also ensure you’re actually moving the money to your savings by making it priority #1.

5. Spend With Cash

Yes, it can be much less convenient to go to the bank each time you’re paid and withdraw the cash you need to live on for the week, but it’s hands-down one of the best ways to stop wasting money.

Whether you prefer to use your debit card or you start with the cash envelope system, when you spend with cash it forces you to be more intentional with your purchases and more aware of your finances as a whole.

And when we know better, we do better.

It can be so dang easy to swipe that credit card day in and day out with no worry about how much money you actually have to spend because you can swipe now and pay later, regardless of your financial situation.

It allows you to make purchases you really can’t afford and encourages overspending.

6. Live on a Budget

Learning to love life on a budget is one of the best ways to stop wasting money. Creating a budget each month is simply creating a plan for your money for the month.

Living on a budget forces you to pay attention to what’s coming in and going out. It forces you to come face-to-face with your spending and prioritize the spending that matters most.

A budget doesn’t mean restricting all spending and living like an extreme cheapskate.

Instead, budgeting is actually giving yourself permission to spend on whatever you plan to spend on.

You really want to take a trip to Target when you get paid? Cool. Just plan for it and create some room for it in your budget.

7. Avoid Your Triggers

Are you aware of your spending triggers? Do you get an overwhelming urge to shop whenever you see a Target commercial?

Do you buy an insane amount of items at the dollar store because you’re a sucker for a good deal, and they’re all only $1, well, $1.25?

These are good clues that Target and Dollar Tree may be spending triggers for you.

Get honest with yourself.

As we mentioned above, spending is driven by emotions. When you spend money, what is the emotional trigger behind it?

Do you notice that whenever you have a bad day at work you stop by the shoe store on the way home?

Do you head to the mall each time you get in a fight with your boyfriend?

These are your spending triggers, dig deep and identify them.

Want to know how to stop wasting money? This is one of the best ways…identify these triggers and then avoid them at all costs!

Are you already practicing any of these habits? Have you found them effective to help you stop wasting money? 

This article was produced and syndicated by Cents + Purpose.

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Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.

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