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Mindful spending: how to stop spending money on unnecessary things

The benefits of mindfulness are well documented — it can make us feel calmer, more relaxed and improve our focus.

But how many of us have applied mindfulness to help us stop spending money?   

Mindful spending: how to stop spending money on unnecessary things

With the effects of the cost-of-living crisis starting to bite, many people are re-evaluating their household budgets and wondering how to spend less.

Adopting a mindful approach and taking the emotion out of spending decisions can help you save significant sums.    

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What is mindful spending? 

Mindful spending is all about working out what is important to you and taking time to consider whether any purchase really is essential — both approaches can stop you spending money on unnecessary things.    

The money you save can then go towards your future — whether paying off debts, saving for a home, a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, or supporting your retirement plans.

In short, having a bigger goal in place will motivate you to cut back on the smaller things.  

But mindful spending isn’t just about spending less, it’s also about consciously thinking before you buy, making sure you don’t get caught out by marketing tricks, and ensuring the money you do spend is genuinely on the best deal.  

So, where to start?

A good first step is to boost your awareness of those purchases that may appear to save you money, but in the long run, end up costing you more.   

Here are our top tips to help you become a mindful spender and to stop spending money on unnecessary things.

False economy offers 

Beware of buying cheap products that may need replacing soon after you purchase them.

Consider how durable the product is, and whether going for something of slightly higher quality would last you longer and therefore end up saving you money in the long run.  

Also, look out for monthly payment offers where you spread the cost over several months rather than paying all at once.

The monthly payment may seem a great, cheap deal, but if you add up the total, you’ll find it’s usually more than if you were to pay in full.  

Special offers 

Special offers may not be as special as they seem at first. Are those extra items essential, or are they destined to end up at the back of a cupboard?

Making sure you only buy what you really need can go a long way to cutting your shopping bills.

Don’t be fooled by the ‘buy one get one free’ deals (BOGOF) — a clever marketing ploy designed to encourage you to buy something you didn’t intend to. And we’re all guilty of it.  


Are you buying an item just because it’s in the sale, or are you purchasing it because it’s something you need?

Many people believe they’re saving by taking advantage of a discount, but the reality is they’re spending money they otherwise wouldn’t have spent.

It’s the same with online offers — so before you check out ask yourself if you really need it!  

Contactless and cashless spending 

With the contactless limit now £100, it’s never been easier to spend, but it’s also never been harder to keep on top of how much you spend per day.

Try taking just cash with you when you go out — planning how much you can afford to spend. Not only will you see how those small purchases quickly add up, but when you run out of cash you won’t be tempted to spend more.     

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Take the no-spend challenge 

This simple habit can really help change your spending mindset by helping you fight off the desire to spend on unnecessary things.

Start by choosing one day a week, a fortnight or even a month and don’t spend anything on that day.

You’ll soon learn which of your regular purchases are necessary, and which you can do without.  

Cut back on spending on food 

Take time out to plan your shopping for the week. The fewer times you visit the supermarket or convenience store, the fewer opportunities you’ll have to buy impulsively.

Planning meals ahead can also avoid those last-minute costly spends on takeaways.   

Are you losing money on needless subscriptions? 

Are you someone who signs up to a TV subscription service to watch the film you’ve been waiting for, then forgets to unsubscribe?

Just going through your bank statements and identifying any needless subscriptions can save you a surprising amount.

And for those you do use — whether services from your bank, gym membership or paid-for apps — consider whether you use them frequently enough to justify the money you spend.  

Save, save, save 

Think about putting away the money you have saved by cutting back. If you cancel a monthly subscription account, for example, could you redirect that money into a savings account?

Alternatively, each time you decide not to get a takeaway meal and use up leftovers in the fridge instead, consider putting away the money you would have spent into a savings pot.  

Learn more: Should you get a smart meter?

And finally… budget! 

Whether you’re going on a night out, a holiday or simply off to the shops, have a budget in mind before you go — and do your best to stick to it.

Could you save money by taking your own food to a festival rather than buying meals on-site? Or rather than visiting the cinema, could you enjoy a movie night at home instead?  

By consciously thinking before you spend, you’re taking a small but important step towards transforming your finances and becoming a mindful spender. ‘Stop spending’ is a simple and effective mantra that can help you achieve your future financial goals. 

If you’d like to put savings plans in place, financial coaching is an excellent place to start. Don’t underestimate the impact of these steps in allowing you the future you desire.  

To discover more tips and advice on how to manage your finances during the cost-of-living crisis, visit our cost-of-living hub.

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About the author
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.