Hack #1308: Put yourself in situations where you can’t even spend if you wanted to!

Had to laugh at this recent comment on our Stamp Hustling post:

“It’s easier to hit a high savings rate when you’re underwater for 90-day patrols.”

Haha… It came from our retired submariner friend, Nords, who RACKED UP the money while out on deployments, and yet it highlights a pretty simple – but obvious! – point:

If you don’t have a way to spend your money, you can’t spend it!

Yet look at all the ways we make it SO EASY to get rid of our cash these days!

  • Keeping 13 credit cards in our wallets
  • Keeping a smartphone with access to every single store in the world on it
  • Keeping c/c info automatically saved at these same stores
  • Using Bank apps that give us access to our cash 24/7

In fact, it’s so easy right now that you can even order a small robot in your house named “Alexa” to go buy it for you without having to bother yourself again. Or I should say – so your 6 y/o won’t ever have to bother himself again, if he was the first in your family to figure out this trick too (!!!).

Of course, the alternative of going off the grid wouldn’t make your life that much better either, so it’s always a fine balance between keeping the convenience of what technology offers these days, but with enough barriers to prevent yourself from spending off a cliff.

That is, at least if you’re the average consumer out there and not a reader of this blog ;)

Still, we could always use as many tips as we can get, and while I’m still trying to find all my own leaks to plug up here, here are a few I’ve either tried myself or have heard over the years that seem to bring people success. Maybe you have some to add to the list?

  1. Keep your savings at a separate bank miles away – and don’t sign up for online access. If there’s anything more annoying than spending too much, it’s having to go out of your way to get your own money in the first place! ;)
  2. Unlink all your bank info online (and your phone!) – to force you to think for a few moments before typing it all back in.
  3. Make all your passwords gobbelygook! To make the above even more annoying! [UPDATE: I don’t mean to *literally* make your passwords “gobbelygook”, I mean to make them all random #’s and letters so there’s no way you’ll memorize them for easy logging in ;)]
  4. Delete all shopping apps from your phone
  5. Only carry the amount of cash on you that you’ll need for that day’s expenses
  6. Cut up all your credit cards or hand them to a friend – who you trust ;)
  7. FREEZE your credit cards and use the thawing time to reflect on impending purchases
  8. And my latest favorite –> Never bring your phone to bed! Or even in the same room! Which I learned the hard way last night* as I got sucked into Ebay and dropped $50 in a fit of late-night excitement (despite my wife’s warnings that she “saw it in my eyes!”)

And there’s probably a million other barriers you can put in place too, depending on your level of need and comfort ;)

What’s important, though, is that you’re always experimenting and looking for those epiphanies! As you never know what stupid little hack will end up changing your life! Haha…

Did I tell you I started brushing my teeth at 8pm every night now? I randomly did it a year or so ago after brushing my kids’ before they went to bed, and then I found out how well it prevented me from snacking and drinking beers into all hours of the night! Because who wants to brush their teeth twice?!

So I’m telling you, you never know… Just gotta keep dabbling!

*In my defense of that Ebay splurge, I did just come across a small windfall after selling an old domain name last week ($1,250 – score!!) which I allotted a portion to “guilt-free” spending… Though I swear, no matter how hard I try I have yet to fully rid myself of that nasty feeling! Why is that?!

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  1. Jacq February 11, 2019 at 7:46 AM

    In my goal to be more minimalist, and not being great at letting go of items, I’ve greatly reduced buying new things. There is a store called ‘At Home’, that coworkers were talking about & I had time the other day and took a walk through it. I walked out having bought nothing, but gotten some steps in walking around the very large store. I was tempted by a few items, but I don’t need them.
    Being out of the habit of shopping I’ve found helps me. My goal is a ‘tiny house’ someday. With that future goal in mind, if I don’t buy it now, I don’t have to pare it down later. (I don’t know how tiny I’ll end up, but a least less space then I have now, more intentionally laid out, with a more energy efficient heating / cooling plan.)

    I like your suggestions!
    Another is an online only bank with a 3-5 day transfer can slow things down.

    1. J. Money February 11, 2019 at 4:23 PM

      YES to tiny house please!!! What an accomplishment if you can pull that off! I’d like to think I could do it too – and, maybe later once the kids are out of the house – but for now will have to live vicariously through people like you :) So Please do make it happen!! I’ve heard it’s incredible once you make it there!

  2. Bryan February 11, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    I like the brushing teeth because you know once you do THAT it’s the signal that the day is over.

    1. J. Money February 11, 2019 at 4:26 PM

      Yup! And then from there it’s super easy to take a shower and get into comfy clothes and pick up a book or whatever else helps you unwind at night and then just *RELAX* :) One tiny little habit to help jump start a bunch of other great habits!

  3. DNN February 11, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    Beer is not good to drink at all, yet alone, drink at night. Did you know beer contain empty fat calories? And, beer also has hops in it, which possibly contributes to lowering Testosterone and upping Estrogen in men, causing mild cases of gyno-man boobs, and softening of the skin.

    1. J. Money February 11, 2019 at 4:54 PM

      I did not know any of this, but it still won’t stop me from enjoying some every now and then ;)

      1. DNN February 11, 2019 at 4:56 PM

        I hear ya. It takes time to overcome. :-)

  4. Mike February 11, 2019 at 9:31 AM

    Well, simply put, just don’t get a credit card and only carry with you what you can spend.

    1. Ramona February 13, 2019 at 11:46 AM

      Really smart advice, but what to do when you are a new immigrant with absolutely no credit history in the US? We’ll have to get credit cards and use VERY wisely.

      I despise the idea of credit cards, we are debt free for a long time and don’t like the idea of getting into this. And yet, from what I understand, just using a debit card with zero overdraft won’t help build a credit score. And we’ll need one for insurance, rent and all the jazz :(

  5. Paul February 11, 2019 at 9:33 AM

    Part of me really wants to take my existing credit cards and only use them for auto pay stuff like electricity or phones, etc.. (basically so my credit rating doesn’t go down) Not even carry them around. Maybe get an Amex charge card instead of a credit card, and use my debit where Amex isn’t accepted. I really think that would go a long way in curbing my (and my spouse’s) purchases. Its much more biting when you know payment is due immediately. Got to get myself back to a point of no debt (other than Mortgage), I was there, then I got cute with 0% intro periods and lost my discipline… Ill get there again though.

    1. J. Money February 11, 2019 at 4:54 PM

      “got cute” haha.. that’s one way to put it!

  6. Joe February 11, 2019 at 9:48 AM

    These moves are all good when you’re young. Hopefully, that will build up a good spending habit. Once you have it under control, you don’t really need to freeze your credit card anymore. :)
    Nice move brushing early. I do that too.

  7. Kate February 11, 2019 at 10:23 AM

    Before the internet was invented I was off sick and pretty much bedridden in my parents spare room for almost a year. I was on full pay (my accident happened in the workplace) and saved about 95%* of my salary which was the deposit for my very first apartment! I’m 100% fine now. Three apartments later I now have a very low mortgage on my current home all thanks to that initial investment. I wouldn’t wish a year in bed for any mid 20 year old but I’m pretty happy with my financial situation because of it!
    *the other 5% was spent on chocolate and cigarettes EYEROLL!

    1. J. Money February 11, 2019 at 11:32 AM

      I think the chocolate and cigs are okay considering what you went through, haha… now if it was 50%….

    2. Debbie February 11, 2019 at 11:34 AM

      My aunt went thru something similar. Had a serious wreck while on company business. She spent 10 months in the hospital. She worked for the hospital so they paid her salary the whole time plus covered all her medical bills. We packed up her 1 bedroom apt. & stored her stuff in my grandmother’s garage. After 10 months she had enough money for a down payment on her first house. Her car was totaled so she had no car expenses. She banked 100% of her salary. But Kate is right, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone but financially it was a big win for my aunt.
      I still use credit cards for almost all purchases. Pay the bills in full each month & enjoy the cash back rewards. Sticking to a budget is the best way to curb spending for us & only visit your favorite stores occasionally!

      1. Kate February 12, 2019 at 5:20 AM

        Great to hear! I like to think the Universe is giving us a little financial reward! I hope your aunt is well and enjoying her apartment!

  8. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life February 11, 2019 at 11:52 AM

    1. No food after brushing teeth is my thing too! I brush as soon as we’re done with dinner – no dessert or second dinner anymore unless it’s truly dire. I used to make myself a whole midnight meal, back in the day.
    2. I normally don’t carry cash. For some reason that slipped through my fingers like water going back more than ten years, it took me all this time to not spend cash I had to carry for emergencies only.
    3. I’ve created a “purchases” email and use that for all online ordering so that when they start sending me endless marketing emails (KOHLS AND MICHAELS), I don’t see it everyday in my normal inboxes and I can take a few minutes to unsubscribe when I’m ready to deal with them. So I don’t see any sales!

    1. J. Money February 11, 2019 at 5:01 PM

      Smart on the separate email! Much less annoying when you start getting spammed all over :)

      (I used to make midnight meals too, until having kids… I swear they’ve made me 1,000% more healthy!! Haha… that should be written about by someone, as well as the fact you save a lot of money too when you don’t even have the time to shop/eat out/etc :) People always say kids are expensive, but maybe it evens out with all the hidden savings?!)

  9. Nita February 11, 2019 at 1:17 PM

    #4 : “Delete all shopping apps from your phone”.
    Or even just: disable their notifications. Less radical, but it helps.
    Also, it can help to avoid checking Facebook through the app. There is no Adblock on the app, and the ads are VERY WELL tailored to your interests. Better through a browser with an ad blocker.

    Like Revanche, I have the newsletter-dedicated e-mail address. With filters isolating the order confirmations and receipts in a special folder, any mention of coupons in another (which I check when I purchase the thing), and the rest is regularly binned (I need to automate that part too… so I won’t even see most of them).

    #5 : I wish. I still carry my card around, which annoys me to no end. I’d love to keep it at home, but most workdays I incur a payment very impractical with cash – fixed, not round and they just never have change. The alternative would be to order rolls of coins (3 types) on a regular basis – I have yet to try that.
    I wish I could take advantage of debit cards cashback, miles etc. but as far as I know, I spend too little to take advantage of any of them.

  10. Indian Thoughts February 11, 2019 at 10:21 PM

    Now, only one advise to your readers against what you advised, don’t use same password everywhere :)