I haven’t written much about frugality lately because I’ve been busy and frugality takes a little bit of creative thinking. But now that it’s 2008 and things have calmed down (not counting a wedding!), I’m going to try to write a few more on this topic and today I’m going to talk about a really easy principle that could save you some money. The idea is that you should make it relatively difficult to spend money. The harder you make it to spend money, the less likely you are to do it. I don’t mean that you should hook your wallet or purse up to electro-shock and have it zap you every time you open it up, I mean that you should put practices in places that make it difficult for your splurge.
Method #1: Keeping Track Of Everything
If you have a budget and you have to keep track of every last penny you spend, that’s an incentive not to spend – especially if you don’t like keeping track. You might say that this is an odd strategy because this demands a bit of unbalance discipline. You have to have the discipline to keep track of spending and the lack of discipline to need this trick to stop you from spending in the first place… but hear me out. This will help those who find themselves stopped at the vending machine randomly throughout the week. It’s not that they lack the discipline to stop spending, it’s that they don’t think of it as spending. “If I use change, it’s not real money!” Have you heard that one before? So, keeping track of everything in a budget will curb your spending.
Method #2: Hide Your Credit Cards
Credit cards are like casino chips, they abstract away money so that you don’t even feel like your spending it. It’s much harder to fork over a hundred dollar bill than it is to swipe a credit card for a thousand dollar purchase. Perhaps it’s the smirk of Poor Richard, but hard currency is much harder to part with than a proxy. So, hide your credit cards. Make it much harder for you to use your credit cards and you’ll have to put more thought into it. This is why the idea of freezing your credit cards in a solid block of ice is so popular (and entertaining). You have to wait until it melts before you can spend!
Method #3: Tell Someone You’re Spending
Accountability is fundamental to almost everything you do, especially if you want to stick on budget and remain frugal. Whether it’s writing it on a blog that only a handful of people read or tracking your debt progress on a patriotically themed debt community site like No Credit Needed Network , sharing your spending with someone else will more definitely keep you in check. In fact, I would recommend sharing at least your big ticket purchases because you never know when your friends know of better deals!
Method #4: Make It A Game
Sure you can buy a camera for $200, but what about doing a little more searching and getting it for $180 after a $20 coupon? How about getting some digital memory to go with it for free? Saving money is actually a lot of fun and it’s a great feeling to find an awesome deal for yourself because you have to show some creativity and guile. In the time that it takes to do all the research, you might decide that you don’t even want a camera in the first place!
There you go, these are the four methods that will probably save you money and curb some of your spending. They all focus on one trick, making it harder for you to part with your money, and in doing so will help you reduce how quickly you spend your money. If you have a track that makes it harder for you to spend money, please do share!