How to Change bad Spending Habits into Good Spending Habits

While there are some people out there who have been frugal their whole life, I think most of us have had a time in our life when we had bad spending habits.  The longer you stay there, however, the worse your financial situation is going to get.  You can save money by turning those bad spending habits into good spending habits.

money habits keeping you poor


19 years ago my husband and I both walked into our marriage with little knowledge of how to manage our finances wisely.  Thankfully we didn’t have access to unlimited amounts of credit which most likely prevented us from getting into worse trouble, but over time we realized we didn’t have good spending habits.

The good news is, we were able to turn things around financially.  We went from living paycheck to paycheck, along with thousands of dollars of student debt to becoming mortgage free and having wiggle room in our budget so we didn’t have to live in a constant state of stress financially.

If we can do it, you can do it too.

First of all we are going to talk about money habits that keep you poor, and then I’m going to share how you can replace those with good spending habits.



Not tracking what you spend

Many of us use our debit cards or credit cards for daily purchases.  People rarely carry around cash anymore.  What was meant to be convenient can actually be a detriment to your finances.

We no longer actively see how much money we have left if we don’t track what we spend.  We just keep pulling out that debit card, only to wonder later where all our money went.

Track your expenses.  Every day pull up your account and see what you spent.  While doing this start refraining from making some of those expenses.  Is it a necessity or a want?  While spending money on things that aren’t needs are okay once in awhile, making a regular habit out of it will cost you too much. 

Not only that, but always make sure you have the money up front for a buy that is a want.  Don’t put those things on credit.  It all adds up and before you know it you’ll wonder where that money went again and why you don’t have enough for your bills.  Which leads me to the next point.


Making Impulse Buys

Too many impulse buys get us into trouble.  It’s amazing how we can be in a store, see a bright, beautiful red kettle and suddenly feel like we NEED it.  Sure, we didn’t know we needed it till that moment, but now we do.  (No?  Just me?)

Spoiler alert:  I never bought the red kettle.  I went home, spent a few weeks thinking about it, and realized I didn’t need it.

Here’s one of my favorite ways to avoid impulse buys.  If you see something in the store that you want, go home and wait 30 days.  If you still want it after 30 days, go buy it (provided you actually have the  money for it.)  More often than not you’ll discover that you’ve either forgotten about it or don’t want it as bad when you are at home and not in the store staring at it.

This is also a great financial lesson for kids.  I’ve given my kids this rule and it really has prevented them from impulsively spending their money.  (Except for gum. I let them impulsively buy a pack of gum if they have the cash. But that’s about it. )


Never putting any money in savings

I think people feel like if they can’t instantly put hundreds of dollars in a savings account, there’s no point.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  If you only have ten dollars, put ten dollars in your savings. 

If you can put ten dollars in your savings every two weeks that means by the end of the year you’ll have $240.  $240 might not seem like a lot but it can help if an unexpected bill comes up.  Even if it can’t cover the whole expense of something, it can decrease it and even that can ease the financial pain of a cost that comes out of nowhere.


Eating out too much

If you are a person who likes to hit up the drive thru or eat out, this is one of the easiest ways to start saving money TODAY!  It’s amazing how much eating out can cut into your budget.  Here’s the thing – inflation is very real and it’s hit many people hard this year.  Restaurant prices are no exception.  It is EXPENSIVE to eat out.  

If you love eating out and don’t want to give it up, make a decision to only eat out once or twice a month.  You’ll enjoy it that much more because it really will be a special outing for you.


Buying everything new

If you buy everything new chances are your overpaying for a lot.  Sure, there are some things that you won’t want to buy used, but you’d be surprised at how much you can save by shopping secondhand.  Almost all the furniture in my house is used.  Most of my clothes are secondhand. I’ve even scored a cell phone secondhand after mine broke.

Consider shopping for used items as often as possible.




Save for purchases before you buy them

So you want a new dress, or a blender, or something bigger like a boat.  Save the money FIRST.  Decide that you won’t put it on credit and will be patient and buy it AFTER you’ve saved all the money for it.  It’s a huge stress reliever to know you don’t have to pay your purchases off after the fact.


Spend time at home doing free or cheaper hobbies and activities

We can get into a mindset that the only way to have fun is to go out and spend money.  But there are plenty of activities you can do at home that will save you cash.  Play a board game, watch a favorite show series, learn to crochet, read a book from the library, or bake a cake.


Do up a budget

If you find you often have more month than money it’s time to sit down and write up a budget.  Find out where your money is going and decide how much money you need or want to allot for each expense.  Be realistic on what you are overspending on and cut back.

If you are struggling with not going over budget, consider the envelope method made popular by Dave Ramsey.  This is where you put cash in different envelopes for different expenses (ie:  entertainment, clothing, eating out, groceries, etc.) and when that money is gone, it’s gone.  Each month you’ll replenish it.  It’s a great way to stay within budget.



You may feel discouraged and frustrated by the state of your finances.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Start with little changes and stick with it.  Over time you will see improvement.  It may require bigger changes as time goes on, but if you are determined and willing to sacrifice what you need to get where you want to go financially, you’ll get ahead eventually.

Need some other ideas on living frugally and saving money?  Check out these posts:

Cut your Budget when There’s Nothing Left to Cut

80 Frugal Living Tips

Frugal Living Tips from the Great Depression



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *