The topic of spending more that we earn can be a sensitive one but hey – we are where we are.  The most important thing is that we don’t let our overspending get out of hand and find ourselves spiraling into debt.

We are bombarded with messages telling us to spend. We are only human and find temptation hard to resist, but getting into debt can be very painful and hard to get out of so it’s best to “plug any holes” in our finances now. Here are some practical tips to reduce spending.

We are not going to kid you – there is no magic pill or wand waving. Cutting costs can be tough. Realising that we can’t afford everything we want can seem unfair, but overspending only results in one thing – debt.

Here are some of the ways to reduce spending. We hope you find them as helpful as we have.

When you are spending more that you are earning….

If you are regularly using a credit card or going overdrawn each month this may mean that you are spending more than you are earning. A first step is to take some time to work out where your money is going and how you can live within your means.

First Step: Map Out Your Spending and then Track it

List out all the sources of your income and then do the same for expenses.  Write down everything including debts and saving.  Don’t forget to add Christmas, birthdays, trips and holidays.  Put money aside each month for the “sometimes spends” – like Christmas etc.  That way you will not have spikes in your spending on these occasions.  Work out exactly how much you need to save so that you are not overspending and try to juggle the figures so that it works.

Some Top Tips to keep spending down…

Check that you are not paying too much for your utility bills.  

• Use comparison sites like:
• Energy Helpline -
• Money Supermarket -
• Uswitch -

Check that you are not paying too much for your mobile phone

• If you bought a phone as part of your contract, make sure the payment for the handset stops – the providers have been known to NOT stop charging.  
• Check how much data you use –do you overestimate how much you need?  
• Are you using WiFi when you can?
• Call your provider and see if you can get a better deal or … move?
• Never pay to unlock your phone.  It may take a little longer, but you don’t need to pay.
• Consider a SIM only deal.

Cancel Subscriptions You Don’t Need

• Small fee subscriptions can mount up. Add them all up and decide which aren’t necessary.  

Consider Using Only Cash

• Making a Money Map or budget is a must to do – but pointless if you don’t stick to it.
• Using cash can force you to keep to a plan.  
• Automate all the bills you can and then keep cash for everything else.  
• Studies show that people spend less when using cash.  
• If you are going out on the town, take cash.  That way you can’t overspend.

Establish Buying Rules

• Making better choices with your money is wise no matter what shape your finances are in.  
• Establishing buying rules will help you keep on track:
• Rule: If it is not in the Money Map (Budget) it is not bought.
• Rule: If I really need this item, where can I cut elsewhere so that I have the money.
• Rule: Set a 24-hour rule. Stop to think what is more important to you – the debt or the item.

Grocery and home Shopping

• Meal Plan - Work out all your meals for the week and just buy what you need. This can be a huge saving.
• Buy supermarket own brands –see if you can tell the difference.
• Use a face cloth instead of buying wipes – better for the planet too.
• Use reward cards.
• Cook more and use less takeaways and ready meals.
• Extreme couponing – shopper scan save a good amount by actively searching for coupons and discount deals. Look out for blogs like– Britain’s Coupon Kid. There is even a TV show called Extreme Couponing!
• Don’t Shop When You Are Hungry. Even if you just have a small snack beforehand – don’t go shopping hungry. Everything will look so much more appealing and difficult to resist.
• Always shop with a List - If it is not on the list – it doesn’t go in the basket.
• Be careful with “special discounts” like BOGOF – Buy One Get One Free. They are not always as good a value as they look – work it out before assuming it is a cost saver.  Also only buy items you actually need in bulk. Perishables can often get wasted… if not really wanted.

Get an Accountability Partner

• Motivation is hard sometimes but with the help of a friend you can work together to fix your spending. You can support each other, check in with each other and maybe even enjoy “spend free” days together?

Set a Per-Use spending amount

• This is an interesting one that I really love!

It is all about making sure that you get value when you spend. Set a per-use limit – let say £1. When you are considering buying something, think about how often you will use it and make sure that you are not spending more than £1 per use.

Example: You see a shirt that you like, and it is £50. You will need to wear it at least 50 times to get the value out of it – will you do that? Or let’s say a TV – if the telly you like is £1000 and you watch it every day for the next two years that will be 730 uses (365 days x 2) which means that each use is £1.36 (£1000 divided by 730). £1.36 is over your £1 budget so you will need to make sure that you either keep the telly for longer or buy one that is less expensive.

Please do share these tips with others – talking about money helps. Sharing our worries and our tips helps us all to be better with money. What others can you think of to implement and share with your friends?

The contents on this page have been produced by Fanny Snaith, money coach in cooperation with borofree. These contents are for guidance only and do not represent a recommendation for investments nor an advice to get a loan. The debt guidance is provided for educational purposes and to allow consumers to use their money more effectively.