If you are wanting to live a more minimalist lifestyle one of the things you probably need to do is figure out how to stop spending money on unnecessary things. This can prove to be a bit tricky for a lot of us.

We Are Trained to Be Consumers

Why we spend money is a very complex issue.

For some of us it something we do to “feel better”. We think it is going to make us happy. And for a very short time spending money and buying something may do just that.

But that feeling of joy is short lived. And a few days or a week later and you need to go out again to get that dopamine hit from spending money and shopping.

Companies spend billions of dollars on marketing and advertising in an effort to get you to part with your money. They employ scientists and psychologists for crying out loud who are trained on what methods work best to get you to spend money on unnecessary things.

How can you stop?

What Are “Unnecessary” Things?

Learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary things is a very worthwhile goal if you need to get your personal finances in order.

But what is meant by “unnecessary things”?

From a consumerism point of view we need:

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Clothing

So if that is it, everything else is a want. Which is fine. It is normal and okay to want stuff. But it has to make financial sense. You just cannot be out spending money on unnecessary things day in and day out and then be wondering why you are always broke.

How Much Money Do You Make?


A lot of people do not even know the answer to this question!

Here are some other tough questions that you really need to answer to help get a handle on your personal finances.

  • How much money do you have in your bank account right now?
  • Are your bills all paid and up to date?
  • How much consumer debt do you have?
  • How much do you earn each month? (A lot of people don’t even know)
  • How much do you spend each and every month?(75% of people underestimate their monthly spending)

These are just a few of the questions you could ask yourself to help you gain a clearer understanding of your financial situation.

I am not a money expert. I am not a financial planner. I have however educated myself on my own income and spending habits. I make a certain amount of money each month and I do not spend more than I make. It did take me a while to get to this point.

How To Stop Spending Money on Unnecessary Things

As I mentioned above it can prove challenging to stop spending money.

You can start by going through everything you already own. Lots of stuff isn’t it? Maybe you do not really need anything right now. In fact it might be a good idea to do some decluttering.

You must look at your own spending triggers. Are there events or emotions that make you want to go out and spend money?

Are you happy with yourself? If you are not then you may be trying to fill that void by spending money hoping that it will make you happy.

Do you practice gratitude for all that you do have? When you’re feeling full of gratitude, you’re less likely to subconsciously try to fill emotional holes by treating yourself with gifts and accumulating more stuff.

How do you spend your free time? Do you consider shopping to be “theraputic”?  As a society we have a very hard time dealing with boredom, so it is easy to just going browsing for stuff. Before you know it, you have spent money.

Wait. If there is something that you just must have, wait a day. A lot of the time you will decide that you do not really need it.

Do some quick math as a reality check. If you earn an hourly wage, do a little simple division to see how much of your time, effort, and work is eaten up by a potential purchase. The thought that three hours of your work barely covers the cost of some restaurant meal is likely to inspire you to cook more.

Want to get really crazy? Commit to a No Spend Week/MonthNo spending money except on food and maybe gas if you have a car. Other people have done it- and for much longer periods of time.


Learning to Not Spend Money Will Take Time

We live in a society that puts money and possessions on a pedestal. The more stuff you have, the bigger house you live in, the more successful you must be, right? This is the common perception. We want to climb the social ladder and be perceived as successful in the eyes of our peers. And we are conditioned from birth to spend. Advertising is everywhere.

I sometimes think that even on a deserted island they would get to you, always coming up with some new product that you must have today.

No wonder it is so hard to save money. You really do have to be disciplined.

The way of society is so powerful. Even the school system fails us here. How much real money management are we taught in school? Yes we learn some basic stuff. But what about the real nuts and bolts about spending money, about consumer debt and credit cards and interest? How about just spending less than you make?

Not much attention is given to this.

Shakespeare is given more attention than basic life skills!(Hey I like Shakespeare!)

And when students head off to university they are encouraged to get a credit card. The race is now on. We do not understand the credit card or the interest on that card, but we can go and buy…whatever. And once we enter that race it becomes harder and harder to exit. Before we know it debt has been accumulated, bills have not been paid, we are living beyond our means and we are miserable.

They say that the number one cause of divorce is money. I believe it. There are eliminate debt type of shows on television that show this clearly. Some of these shows involve people who are planning for their wedding! They will be in 15000-30000$ in debt from their wedding! Good luck with that marriage.


Sell stuff you no longer need. Have a yard sale, list the stuff on Craigslist or Ebay.

Cancel magazine subscriptions and premium cable services(or cable altogether!)

Learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary things is possible. No more toys, fancy clothes, new shoes or purses, or the latest phone or electronic gadget. Trust me, you just don’t need it!

It may not seem easy at first but after just a week of living on cash only and sticking to a budget, most people find that it is not that bad.

If you are serious about getting out of debt, stopping the spending and saving money, you will do what is needed.


“Live Simply”


13 thoughts on “How To Stop Spending Money on Unnecessary Things

  1. We’ve gone nearly a year and a half without credit cards now and it’s been great. Still don’t earn quite enough but that should be changing over the course of the next few months (oh man I hope so). We squiggle by. We feel lighter and sorta even cleaner for not buying on credit. Amazing, really.

    1. Good for you Meg. I don’t even have a credit card anymore. Very liberating to save for things and not use a credit card. And squiggling by is better than behind under a mountain of debt. Keep up the great work and thanks for commenting:)

  2. I just found your blog while doing a search on a particular subject. I’m so surprised to find out you discuss so many of the things I think (ok, obsess) about. So far this is the only topic with which I’ve had some positive experience. So, here goes…

    Pay yourself first. Every payday, set aside a percentage (10% would be GREAT) or a flat amount of your pay. Putting it in a savings account is best, but if you don’t have one, just stick it in an envelope, seal it up and hide it in a safe place. I started doing it that way and eventually opened a savings account. Even if you can only put aside $5 at a time, you’ll be amazed at how proud of yourself you’ll be for setting a goal and sticking with it.

    1. Agreed. It is unfortunate that people don’t get in the habit of doing this at an early age. I am lucky that my employer also matches (up to a certain $ amount) Our RRSP AND pension contributions. Pretty amazing really.

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. I love the *idea* of cash envelopes/jars, however, I have taken my “allowance” in cash for a little over a year now because I was concerned about my “cash” account being compromised as every time I tried to log in to check my balance I was locked out for too many login attempts (someone attempting to hack my account???). But I find since switching to cash, my money flies out of my wallet and I have no idea what it is being spent on. When I was having to track a balance in an account I was much more conscious of how much I was spending and where it was going. I am actually about to open a free checking account for this very reason.

  4. I’ve been using cash envelopes for many years.. I look at my pay-stub a day before I get paid and I divide it by 4. Gas money, food, savings and bills (needs and debt as well). I also give myself a $40 biweekly allowance on ‘wants.’ So I can enjoy that starbucks meal or eating out without the guilt.

    If we didn’t have all the unnecessary wants, there wouldn’t be a need to declutter 🙂

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