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 Three women sitting in a row with lots of shopping bags at their feet

Spending sensibly

Worried about the way you spend your money? Here are some tips to help you stop splurging.

Nine ways to tackle compulsive spending

1. Get to know your spending triggers

Ask yourself what’s going on when you spend money on things you don’t really need. A ‘spending trigger’ is a feeling or situation that makes it easy for you to break your spending rules. For some people, it can be feeling stressed or bored, while others want to buy things their friends have got. Make a list to help you understand what triggers your impulse to spend.

2. Track your spending

Every time you buy something you don’t need, make a note of what you bought and how much it was. Adding up your purchases can help you to see exactly how much you’re compulsively spending. Our spending feature in the Barclays app1 shows you where your money is going in certain categories and can help you to decide if there are any areas you might want to try to save money. You can also add your accounts from other providers to see all your balances and transactions in one place.

3. Work out your reasons for buying something

Make a checklist to help you work out whether something you want is just an impulse buy. Why do you need it? Could you get a cheaper alternative if you wait or go elsewhere? How much use will you get out of it? Have you bought things like this before and regretted it later? These simple questions can help you keep your cool when faced with the temptation to splurge.

4. Control how you use your card

We’ve got various tools in the Barclays app1 that can help you to control how and where you spend your money. You can set limits on payments online or abroad and cash withdrawals, and block transactions to certain types of merchants or temporarily freeze your card if want extra peace of mind. Find out how you can manage your card controls.

5. Avoid temptation

Think carefully about which marketing promotions you sign up for. When you buy things online, you’ll often be asked to opt in to offers by email, text message, phone and post. The more offers you sign up for, the more you could be tempted to spend. If you want to stop getting offers from a seller, look for the ‘unsubscribe’ link in its emails. Be mindful of who you follow on social media. If you keep buying something an influencer promotes, it might be a good idea to mute their posts.

6. Get your retail highs another way

Buying stuff to treat yourself makes you feel good – that’s why it called retail therapy. But the thrill soon wears off and isn’t worth the financial hangover. If you overspend when you go shopping with friends, arrange to meet those friends somewhere else and go shopping another time. Think of simple ways to enjoy your spare time, like a DVD at home with your friends instead of going to the cinema.

7. Set a realistic budget

Setting a budget can help you to focus on your financial goals. There’s plenty of help available to guide you through setting a budget.There’s plenty of help available to guide you through setting a budget. Try the free budget planner calculator from the Money Advice Service – an independent, government-sponsored organisation that offers impartial advice. The calculator breaks down income and spending into categories and asks questions that will help you set a realistic budget. It’s a good idea to include some money for treating yourself in your budget.

8. Get help from a friend

Before you buy something you think you might not need, call a friend. Explaining why you want to buy something could be enough to stop you in your tracks. You could also ask them to help you with your budgeting – getting someone else to take a look at how you manage your money and spending can help you to be more objective and help you to stick to your plan.

9. Get free help from the experts

There’s loads of free advice available to help you keep your money in order. The Money Advice Service has tips, calculators and tools to help you control your money and plan for your future. You’ll also find practical help on where to get free advice if you’re worried about debt

Extra support

StepChange Debt Charity logo

StepChange Debt Charity

Confidential, non-judgemental support and access to free self-help resources.

Other things to consider

 A woman working in a café holds a bank card as she speaks to a customer

Managing your card

Control your card on the go

You can control how and where your card is used through the ‘Cards’ section in our app2. Set limits on payments online or abroad and cash withdrawals, temporarily freeze your card if you don’t know where it is, report it lost or stolen, view your PIN and more. 

 A man sitting at a desk in front of a window

Managing your money

Getting your budget back on track

Dev was having trouble controlling his finances and was often relying on an overdraft to cover expenses.

 A woman curled up in an armchair by a window

Debt and mental health

Keeping your spending and mental health in check

Mental health and money management can be linked. Sarah’s mental health led to her spending more than she could afford, which added to her anxiety.

 

Budget calculator

Plan out your repayments

It’s important to be sure repayments will fit in with your other monthly commitments.

 

We’ve prepared this budget planner to help you see what you can afford.

A couple sat down together working out bills

Money management

How to improve your financial health

Develop your money-management skills with our easy-to-follow guides on budgeting, saving, planning for the future and handling debt.