7 Ways to Control Your Spending

Ways to Control Your Spending

Spending must be a conscious activity

What do I mean by that?

Have you ever said the following at the end of the week or month: “Where on earth did my money go?”  I know that I’ve said that!

The idea behind conscious spending is to break the habit of spending whenever you ‘feel’ like it.

Emotions have just as much of a role in spending as knowledge does, so getting the emotional side under control will help you put your knowledge to use!

BUT…building self-discipline can be tough, especially when we’re talking about finances.

If you’re trying to control your spending or looking for ways to help you know where your cash is going, explore a few of these ideas to help you to get your budget under control.


You’ve heard of this route before, but may not see its usefulness.  If you’re having trouble with overspending in certain areas, try using envelopes for a trial period with certain categories.

For example, your cell phone payment may be automated…no envelope needed.  Your grocery bill may fluctuate more than you’d like it to – so set out an envelope.

The same can be done for eating out or entertainment.  You don’t need a lot of categories to be successful with envelopes, start small and you’ll see how effective it can be!

2Gift Cards Only

This is similar to the envelope system, but an alternative to carrying cash.  If you want to set a limit on gas, groceries, or entertainment, you can use a gift card to control your spending.

It takes a little more involvement, but you can prepay your gas, groceries (if you buy them at a place with gift cards, like WalMart) or entertainment like a movie store.

I’d rather do cash only, but it’s an idea for people who like plastic.  Just be careful that you don’t get stuck with any unnecessary fees.

3Limit Trips To The Store

Creating a shopping schedule for groceries, or personal items can help control your spending.  Plan out the days you absolutely need to shop and avoid the ‘pick it up after work’ routine.  That’s a sure-fire way to forget how much you’re spending on things.

4Write Down Every Purchase

If the small things are breaking your budget, try carrying around a mini notebook and writing down each item you’re purchasing.  Coffee here, snack machine there, or whatever it may be – write it down!

It’ll feel like a hassle (good!) and hopefully slow you down to really consider what you’re spending money on.

5Automate The Savings

If you don’t see it, you’re less likely to miss it.  Try paying the savings account each month like you would do with a bill.

How you do it will be up to you.  Many online banks will set up automated transfers each month.  If you cash your checks, put a portion in a jar or envelope marked as savings.

The point is to get into the habit of living on less so that you have room to breathe in your budget.

6Find A Money Buddy

Setting goals with a friend can make saving money easier, especially if you like a challenge.  If you really need accountability (and trust the other person), have a bi-weekly or monthly comparison of expenses.

If you don’t want anyone to see your actual expenses, keep it focused on the amount saved. Challenge each other to increase your savings month after month – it’ll naturally cause you to shape up your spending.

7Make a 30 Day Rule

The ultimate discipline for controlling your cash is the ability to say NO, and to let a period of time go by before you commit to the purchase.

This works best with big ticket items like a computer, TV, car, hobby items, or home décor.  The main idea is to kick that impulsive buying habit we can all fall prey to.

What ways have you found to be helpful in controlling your cash flow?


Ready to Quit Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck?

Just click to join 225,000+ others and take our FREE email course to better manage your money, pay off debt, and save! And get FREE access to our money-saving workshop ($29 value)!

Related Articles:

  1. Shan Walker

    GREAT tips Bob. I had always discounted the envelope idea, but you’ve made me see it in a new perspective. Limiting trips to the store has been huge for me. Making a promise to myself that I won’t go grocery shopping more than once a week and just making due has saved us lots of money.

    Shan Walker {The How to Guru}

  2. Jason

    This may be applicable to more than myself, but my wife and I are transitioning from a cash-only envelope budget to using a credit card for the rewards (while still maintaining said budget) and I was having a hard time tracking every little purchase. Then I found Goodbudget on my phone and with about 15 minutes of setup, I now have an electronic envelope system for my card. Adding a transaction takes only a few moments and you can quickly see how well you are doing. Just a thought as it pertains to points 1 and 4 in my case.

  3. Dustin

    I am pretty good at keeping my spending down. Here’s how I do it. I get paid every Friday. My check is directly deposited into my checking account. I write down in my calendar what bills I have to pay on the Friday before it’s due. If I have a bill to pay that week, I take that amount, add about $200 and immediately transfer anything remaining into my savings account. That $200 a week I can then spend on anything I want that week but includes gas, groceries etc. Any extra money I may get, like Per diem from work, gets cashed and put in my wallet for anything extra I didn’t account for or want.

  4. Busola

    These are great tips, thanks. Especially the one on automating my savings.
    What I have found useful is first identifying those situations that can trigger the impulse buying mode. For me this is stress. I try to avoid the shops when I am stressed but if I have to go shopping regardless, I leave the credit card at home and go with just enough cash for items on my list (and a little extra – sometimes😊).

  5. Diann Phillips

    I write down the bills that I need to pay for the week. And I do not make enough to pay all them. I work two jobs and I am a hairstylist and I do not no how much I will make that week. The clients use to come on a regular bases but now they have slacked off that’s why I got another job I am still having problems meeting my budget so I borrow money and when I get paid I have to pay off the loans. What can I do I have to pay booth rent to work in the shop. Doing hair is my passion I need more clients. I am trying everything to get more clients it’s not working what can I do need help help.

    • Alicia Martinez


      I am praying for you tonight. Praying the Lord will bless you richly in your work and send you new clients to fill in the empty spaces from the ones who left. Never loseen faith.
      God’s not dead. Rely on him. Much Love Sister

  6. Alan

    “Limits trips to the store” I think the best thing to do is to carefully set up a shopping list in order to not forget anything. If we forget something, we go back to the store and we buy more… That’s an efficient way to reduce spendings.

  7. Mela

    I have found the automate savings and writing down everything to be the most effective for me.
    Automated savings incorporates “out of sight, out of mind” but more like out of pocket for the income that’s being put away.
    Writing down everything helps me to figure out my spending habits and make the necessary changes and improvements for the next budget cycle.