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This post was updated and republished on January 2 2019.
When it comes to spending money I don’t have, eating out is definitely my weakness. It is the one thing I tend to justify why I should use my credit card. I say things like:
“I worked hard all week. I’ve earned it.”
“It’s really just for social purposes.”
“It’s not like I eat out everyday.”
In other words, I can always find reasons to justify it. Not a good habit to have 🙁
But anytime I make these excuses and I’m spending money I have not budgeted for (or don’t have), I am losing because I have less money to put toward paying off my debt or to save. In fact, my debt actually goes up because I have to use a credit card.
The bottom line: Extra spending doesn’t help me at all.
And what is so frustrating is that I don’t have to eat out! I have plenty of food at home and an unlimited supply of recipes. But eating out is my weakness. And so the challenge for me is:
How do I say NO when I want to spend money eating out?
I would like to share five tips that have helped me on this journey. I hope they can help you too!
1. Determine why you want to make the purchase
Ask yourself why you want to make the purchase. Would it add value to your life? Would you be unable to survive without it? Would it give you a few minutes of fun? Are you using it as an escape for your stresses and frustrations?
There are many reasons why we make purchases. Sometimes we have no choice. But often, when we pause before buying something and evaluate why we are making the purchase in the first place, we realize it isn’t all that necessary after all.
2. Brainstorm alternatives to your purchase
If you realize you like to shop when you’re stressed (and believe me, you are not alone in this!), then maybe instead of shopping you can release your stresses in a journal or over a cup of coffee with a friend. Or perhaps you’re just looking for something fun to do. Instead of spending money, be creative and come up with an activity to do at home for free or for little money. (Here are some ideas for free or inexpensive date nights.)
For me, I like to eat out because I love how delicious it can be and for the social part. But I know I can also make a very good meal at home and invite friends over to get the social aspect.
3. Can you save for it?
Ask yourself if this is a purchase you have to have immediately or if it is something you can save for. If it is not something you absolutely have to have at the time, then budget for it. That way you make sure you actually have the money for it and won’t overspend. Not to mention it’s a lot more rewarding to know you had to work a little for it!
4. Write down how it would benefit you to not spend the money
How much would you spend on whatever purchase you want to make? Write it down. With that number in mind, think about how else you could use that money. I know when I don’t eat out, I can put the money I didn’t spend toward my credit card balance. Or I can put it into my emergency fund. Most of the time, I know it is money not getting added to my debt since I would have had to use a credit card because I didn’t budget for that purchase.
Whatever it is for you, use it as motivation to stick to your budget.
5. Determine your weakness
As you now know very well, my weakness is eating out. I don’t shop much for clothes. I don’t go out to the bars often and spend money there. Nope. The one thing that gets me the most is restaurants. I realized this a long time ago and know it is the area I must learn to spend less on.
What is your weakness when it comes to spending money? Write it down. Own it. Understand why this is a weakness for you. If you really want to control your spending habits, then you must nail this one down. Once you know, then you can work toward not giving in when you are tempted.
Most of us can improve when it comes to saying no to spending money. It just takes a little determination, sacrifice, and willpower. But we can do it!
What other ways help you to say no when you want to spend money? Please share in the comments below!
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