Smarter Spending Habits: How to Fix Your Problem Areas

Sad man looking at his wallet with money flying out

This is the second installment in a four-part series that helps you take control of your spending. To read the first installment on raising self-awareness, click HERE.

It’s one thing to know you have a spending problem. It’s another thing to fix it.

The road to becoming a reformed overspender is paved in temptation. You will encounter crazy deals on shoes you’d love to wear. Your friends will invite you to once-in-a-lifetime events. Your significant other will beg to go to your favorite restaurant.

If becoming a smart spender was easy, the average credit cardholder wouldn’t carry over $5,000 in credit card debt. But if you’re willing to make sacrifices and fortify your resolve to spend less, there are several things you can do to spend smarter.

Target Weaknesses

In the first installment, we discussed how to become aware of your financial weaknesses. Everyone has different areas to improve, so where do you normally spend too much?

If you eat out too often, try meal prepping or packing your lunch. If you pay too much to maintain your car, house or lawn, consider doing some of it yourself. If you have a tendency to buy things you never use, consider shopping with a list.

Target your biggest weaknesses and figure out how to solve them because, as the saying goes, “every problem has a solution.”

Establish a Mandatory Waiting Period

There are also several techniques you can use to curb your overall spending. My favorite is to establish a mandatory waiting period before making impulse purchases.

Here’s how it works: Any time you are tempted to purchase something you’re not actually shopping for, wait 24 hours before buying it.

This allows the rush of an impulse purchase to wear off so that you can think clearly and determine if it’s truly an item you need. And the inconvenience of having to go back to the store to get the item prevents shopping abuses.

Choose a Partner

When things are tough in life, it’s best not to go at it alone. Choose someone to hold you accountable for your spending, whether it’s your significant other, parent, or friend. If someone else starts making you answer for your purchases, you’ll start hearing their voice every time you go shopping, whether they are there or not. And eventually, their voice, may become your frugal self-conscious.

Rethink Entertainment

In an inspiring Business Insider article, Benny Lewis wrote, “Everything that is wonderful about life doesn’t cost a penny, and the rest is way cheaper than you think it is.”

Taking this point of view, create a list of things you typically do for entertainment, then attempt to list an equally fun, but free or cheaper option next to each one. By rethinking your entertainment, you’ll be able to save money and enjoy a fresh set of activities.

While all these ideas will help get your spending under control, it can be difficult to resist relapsing over the long term. In the next installment, we’ll discuss common spending triggers and methods you can use to make smart spending a lifelong habit.

Do you have an innovative method that helps you spend smarter?  Send it to me at modernhemingway[email protected] and I might blog about it in a future article.

This email address is not associated with Bank of the Ozarks, not monitored by Bank of the Ozarks, and customers should not use this email address for account questions or concerns.  For questions or concerns regarding your account, please contact Bank of the Ozarks by clicking HERE.


Adam Lucas holds a Finance degree and an MBA from the University of Kentucky. His work has appeared in many major outlets including and