How to Stop Spending All Your Money Without Cutting Back on Fun

Whether you're a beauty lover, fashion fanatic, book nerd, foodie or organization junkie, you can always find something to spend money on. But then you get to the end of the month and see that all your dough is gone. Whether you have a spending problem that is a few dollars over your budget or leaving you with a bank account balance of $0, cutting back is never easy. Here is how you can have it all and actually end up saving money.

Assess your situation and create a budget

Ready to start adulting? The first step is simple: spend less than you earn. Not ready to crunch the numbers? Luckily, smart people have created ways we can make a budget without being a mathematician. Mint is a popular app for budgeting and tells you exactly where your money is going. It also helps you create a budget and decide where you will spend your earnings. If you aren’t a fan of online apps, track your spending by hand in a journal.

When it's time to create a budget, you’ll want to do the same thing you did before and look at how much you earn and have to spend each month. Next, think about what you need and don’t need. How much money will you spend on groceries and how much for takeout? Allocate an estimate of how much you should spend to each. That’s your bare bones budget.

However, we aren’t suggesting you strip away all the joys of life. Give yourself a monthly “treat yo’self” budget. Maybe it’s for a manicure or a book you’ve been dying to buy. Remember to stick to whatever you set. If you really want something, but it’s too expensive for your monthly budget, wait until your “treat yo’self” budgets add up to buy that thing.

Also, if you’re a professional woman, be sure to instill a coffee or lunch budget for business meetings and networking. But don’t forget to give yourself some wiggle room! A cushion in your budget will allow you to splurge in case of emergency.

Use envelopes

Invest in some plastic envelopes and label them with the same categories you made within your budget. Then, take cash out of your account each week or month and place the correct amount in each envelope that you plan to spend. This way you can have a visual of how much you’ll be spending and won’t have the chance to pull out your card to pay for extras.

Related: I Tracked Every Dollar I Spent For a Month & Here's What I Found Out About Myself

Print it out

So envelopes aren’t your thing? Find some cute and fun print outs online for free that will help you organize your spending categories. It can also be a good idea to place these within a binder so everything is in one place and you can reference past budgets if you need.

Recognize what your triggers are

Can’t resist a killer sale? We know the feeling. But once you recognize that sales are a weak point for you, it’s easy to say no. Bring a list to the store when you go shopping and aim to come under budget. Maybe you head to your favorite store in the mall when you’ve had a bad day. And while retail therapy gives you a boost for a moment, turning to spending to feel better can really take a toll on your budget.

The idea of saving is a tempting one, but no matter how much you save when you buy something remember that you are always spending money. And it’s a good idea to avoid spending if you didn’t plan it out beforehand. Whatever your triggers are, identify them and guard against spending for those reasons. Once you know what they are, make a decision to never spend for those reasons. You’ll be surprised by how much you can save.

Explore budget friendly options

Sometimes we just can’t give up those little luxuries. For example, a lot of us love our morning coffee. While going out for coffee is essential for certain occasions, grabbing your favorite latte every day does not make for a happy budget. Instead, opt to make your own coffee at home.

Whatever it is that you love that is slowly eating away at your budget, find a way to keep the luxury in your life through a more affordable option. Little by little you’ll save more than you ever thought was possible.

Beware of credit cards

They’re great for emergencies and building credit, but not so great for random purchases. Once you learn how to work with a credit card account responsibly, you can use it to become a financially responsible adult. But remember the budget thing. Spend ONLY what you have set aside, and refrain from using money that you don’t actually have. It may feel good in the moment, but it’s never fun to spend money on credit card bills later down the road.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

Yes, you have goals you want to stick to and they require discipline. But if you mess up and go over budget one month, don’t beat yourself up. Simply aim to stick to them next month with a bit more resolve. Ask yourself what caused you to go over budget. Was it reasonable or did you give in to one of your triggers? Whatever the case, remember adulting is hard but also totally doable. All it takes is a little organization.

If all else fails, just watch Confessions of a Shopaholic. No one wants to be like Rebecca Bloomwood begging a hot dog vendor for money to buy the “perfect” scarf. It’ll give you just enough motivation to truly change your ways and become a financially responsible adult.