Whether income goes down or bills pile up, we all can and should be in better control of our spending. But if you’re used to a certain lifestyle and forced to cut back, I know first hand how difficult it is to let go of those overspending habits and change your financial mindset for the better.
// Wanna save for later? Save it to Pinterest + Follow Me //
How I Changed My Financial Mindset and Stopped Overspending
(This post contains affiliate links that I could make commission off of. All opinions are my own 😃)
About seven years ago, I was fortunate to buy my first home at a low value when the market crashed. And I was even luckier to have a stable salary. However, at the time I was NOT frugal. I never budgeted for my necessities and I didn’t think twice about my consumption and waste. For a long time it was normal for me to go to the mall and out to lunch almost every weekend. I put all of my recurring bills on AutoPay and hardly ever looked at my bank account with a discerning eye. My spending habits were based on my emotional wants and (blissful) ignorance rather than a logical necessity.
But after several life changes over the last few years, I had to finally force myself to stop the money wasting madness. My “stable” job in the electric industry ended after nine years. And after three failed attempts at working in call centers over the last three years, I finally gave into working from home and started this blog. I am in a better place with doing what I am passionate about. However, my boyfriend and I have had to keep a closer eye on our spending and budget.
It’s definitely not easy. I used to get my hair done professionally once every two or three months. Now, I practice at-home coloring and cutting (yes, people I cut my own hair!). I haven’t paid for cable in three years. I don’t buy clothing until I sell my old, unused clothing on eBay. I think twice or even three times before making purchases online.
But, I didn’t get to this point all in one week. In fact, I had a huge fear of cutting back. Like the world I lived in would crumble and I would never have any fun or do the things I want to do. But, do your best not to stress. Trust me, it will be a lot worse if you resist. Take it easy and start with small steps you can control.
The first thing I needed was to change my financial mindset. It seems like a simple thing, but it was easier said. But, it was the most powerful thing I did to produce a healthier “relationship” with saving money.
I Realized My Financial Mindset Actually Started as a Child
Often times, you can interpret your financial beliefs with how your family subconsciously influenced you growing up. I think it was a Tony Robbins event I had watched on Youtube that made me stop and really analyze my money influence from when I was just a kid.
You see, my father is a big saver and frugal person. I was one out of five kids, so it was an absolute necessity for my dad to stretch his dollars as far as they would go. But I didn’t understand the importance of what he tried to show me. So once I started making my own money, I spent without logic simply because it felt good and different from the restraint I had as an adolescent.
So when my income went down, I had a real problem with converting to frugality. I flat out didn’t want to. I felt like the high I got from shopping was something I needed to make me feel happy. I told myself that since I was good at putting 10-15% of my paycheck into savings, that I got a pass to spend the rest on whatever my heart desired.
It was a harsh reality that I could not sustain that lifestyle anymore. And it was even more disparaging when I realized my happiness was tied to so intricately with buying things that really didn’t matter.
I Changed my Money Beliefs
After a bad layoff from my job and cutting down on my spending, I went through a depression. I needed so badly to get out of my funk, so I turned to a book by Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life. This is not a book specific to finance. But it really helped me change for the better. I learned how to forgive myself, others and to let go of things that don’t serve my purpose anymore.
Things that happened in the past didn’t have to be a part of my future. Even though I was a wasteful spender before, doesn’t mean I can’t change.
Every time I felt down in the dumps about money, I took Louise Hay’s advice from her book. Every day I practiced affirmations and told myself it was okay to be frugal and live with simplicity. And above all, I allowed myself to feel happy and appreciative of things I can’t buy.
Honestly, I recommend this book to everyone. Louise has a real way of opening your eyes to what life can be like if you stop resisting and lean into forgiveness and positive thinking. It gave me a framework and actionable steps to help me not just with finance, but with all aspects of my life.
I Read About Money-Saving from Those Who Knew How To
In combination with changing my mindset, I started to feel even better about frugality and finances when I exposed myself to finance blogs and books on a consistent basis.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly didn’t receive an education on personal finance. I learned arithmetic, science, history and even physical education, but nothing in regard to creating or managing a budget. I consider this a huge lack in our education system (I won’t get started on this subject as it can be saved for another time)! So, the only way for most of us to learn is to go seeking that information on our own.
I found the majority of this information through online financial bloggers on Pinterest. These bloggers are real people. They have real lives and know how to stay sane while in control of their finances. Not just another financial advisor looking to gain business to increase their bottom line.
After a while of absorbing information from experts and frugal masters, it felt incredibly empowering when I took action to save money. No longer did I feel stressed out or depressed. It is honestly such an exciting feeling to be in control of spending habits and reaching goals I set for myself.
Some of my favorite blogs and books about saving money (and also making money!):
- Making Sense out of Cents – Michelle can do no wrong in my eyes when it comes to her resourceful and inspiring content.
- The Penny Hoarder – Another great blog with a TON of articles and interviews dedicated to saving and making money.
- Fitnancials – One of my favorites for inspiration on frugality, traveling on a budget as well as health. Alexis is simply, the real deal!
- Sarah Titus – Oh my gosh, I love Sarah. Her writing is so personal. She’s a badass at saving money and gives real advice. Do yourself a favor and read some of her articles. Like right now!
- Robert Kiyosaki’s book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” – One of the books that started it all for me! It’s an easy read and an awesome story. A must-have for anyone wanting to change their financial mindset.
I Aligned Myself with People to Help Me Stick to My Goals
My boyfriend, Zak, has been a great inspiration of hard work and frugality over the years. He is a voracious learner and reader of everything financial. If it weren’t for the strong partnership we have in each other, I would not be where I am today. I am so grateful that we now have similar goals in our approach to spending, budgeting, and saving.
If you, too, are in a relationship I highly recommend getting your significant other on board. Make it a priority to actually sit down and talk about your finances as individuals and your goals as a couple. Two minds are better than one! It can be as easy as a once-a-month finance check-in or sporadic daily conversations. Zak and I tend to talk so often about money and budgeting that we don’t need to schedule it, but do what works best for you and your honey.
Aside from a partner, there will also be people in your life that do not mesh well with your new found frugality. This can be a big misstep when you constantly have friends that only want to do things that involve money. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my “girl time” when I can go shopping and out to eat. But, I do it only if I have money set aside. There are plenty of ways for you to get creative if money is tight.
I don’t advise you to change who you hang out with. Obviously you’re friends for a reason! But, I do recommend that you take the time to tell friends of your money-saving goals. If they’re your real friends, you guys will figure out how to have fun without spending an arm and a leg. Don’t underestimate a nice hike or walk in the park. Instead of an expensive dinner with drinks and appetizer, make it a nice dinner at home. Trust me, there are ways to stay social without going over budget.
I “Exercised” My Money Saving Muscle
Changing your mindset and learning more about money-saving is an important step. But to solidify a positive relationship with money and saving, you must put it to action and be consistent. Consistency is one of my favorite words in the English language because it really is so relevant to achieving anything in life.
Here are some important actions to help you:
- Plan out a budget and make sure to add key dates when you’ll need to review and reassess.
- Take the time to read more articles on saving money. I still learn something new everyday!
- Keep a money journal. This is the time to get out any frustrations or celebrate any money saving/money making/debt payoff milestones. 🙂
- Listen to guided meditations. One of my favorite ways to get out of a “money stress” funk and keep up motivation is to listen to a short 15-minute meditation on youtube.
I plan to write additional articles to address the more technical aspects of saving money, such as budgeting and writing out financial goals. So, stay tuned for some more actionable posts (including some free printables!).
Speaking of free printables…check out some of these posts:
Are you struggling with changing your own spending habits? If not, what methods are working for you? Let me know in the comments below!