Trick Yourself Into Saving Money

In the past couple of years, my income has doubled, and so has my desire to buy, buy, buy.

I am not opposed to treating myself to a new dress every once in awhile, but buying lunch at work is a pointless, money sucking venture that I've fallen victim to far too many times in the past.

I've found that by using a little reverse psychology and using some tricks on myself, I save money far more willingly than I would otherwise.


Leave it at Home

I don't mind the trips to Sephora, or a little shopping every once in awhile, but when it comes to where my problem spending lies, it's my day-to-day purchases.

I mean those lunches out because I'm too lazy to make something, and the coffee when I'm lagging, or the parking when it's raining and I don't want to pull out my umbrella.

If I know I have a full tank of gas and my iPhone is fully charged, I'll leave my methods of payment (debit, credit, and cash) at home to avoid falling into the vortex of daily spending.

If you can't leave it at home, find another way to prevent yourself from pulling out your cash. Lock it in your drawer at work and give a coworker the key so you can't access it until after a day is done. Don't make excuses - there is always a way.

Make it Uncomfortable

A few months ago, I got a new pair of pumps.Β I love them now, but the first few days (weeks, even) that I wore them were agony.

You know when you wear shoes that you're not used to, and they're new and stiff and rub on all the worng places because they haven't formed to your foot yet?

Yeah, that was these shoes. They looked great with my work outfits, but there was no way I was walking more than absolutely necessary in them (which was, essentially, to and from my car).

I found that the first day I wore them, I ate what I brought for lunch because my shoes hurt too much to walk down the stairs and go to the cafe across the street.

I wore them all that week, and I didn't buy lunch even once. No lunch, no coffee, no gum at the convenience store, no cookies at the bakery across the street. No nothing.

Obviously this is a very specific example, but if you make it uncomfortable somehow, or inconvenient to spend money, you won't do it as much.

Pretend You Have None

If you pretend you don't have any money, you won't have any money to spend.

If you have a problem with credit card purchases and buying things on credit when you don't have the money to pay it back, don't lie to yourself. The amount you are spending on interest far outweighs the amount that you are getting back in rewards from having a cash back or travel card, so cut up your card.

That way you won't be swiping it on unncessary purchases.

If you pretend you have no money for long enough, you may start to believe it. I like to see things in order to believe them, so all of the money left over in my chequing after my bills are paid gets transferred into an ING TFSA account or to my RRSP. It's completely separate from my chequing account, and I have an extreme reluctance to spend that money in my ING account. It's very hard to get out of the account, as it takes a few days and some transfers, so out of sight, out of mind.

Whatever it takes for you to pretend that you have no money, do it.

I that trying to trick yourself is the easiest way to save money without having willpower (haha). How about you? Do you ever pull some jedi mind tricks on yourself to save?


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54 thoughts on “Trick Yourself Into Saving Money

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  2. We can all use a little reminder not to let lifestyle inflation creep our way. I like the last tip the best. I often pretend I have no spending money for the week. And (similar to your No. 1), I'll only keep like $20 in my wallet just so that I actually can't over do it.

  3. I don't keep cash in my wallet. I end up spending it and then don't remember what it is I purchased with it. So, no cash! πŸ™‚

  4. I would always pretend to myself that the only money I had was the money in my checking account.

    I would almost take my shoes off in the office if I bought shoes that uncomfortable!

    1. Post author

      Haha I usually did! Under my desk, of course. They're finally comfortable and I can't use that trick to avoid buying food with them anymore. boo!

  5. John @ Married (with Debt)

    I like to send my money where it needs to go right on payday. That way I can't spend it over the weekend. It's a bit depressing to watch your paycheck disappear like that, but it is what it is.

  6. When I go to work I bring a hot cooked lunch from home.. I've never paid for lunch outside of the home while at work. I see my mates at work buying from the trucks... and coffee is non-stop and at $5 a pop from Starbucks.. that's costly.

    I would say Mrs. CBB and I pretend we don't have money because our budget sucks it all up. The money goes to some category and that's final. We don't pull money unless it's necessary but for the most part it's all budgeted and makes life so much easier. I think if more people budgeted their money so they paid themselves first and didn't step outside of the budget they would see how beneficial it can be. At least we did. Great Post... Cheers Mr.CBB

  7. Loved this post! Reverse psychology always helps! I like the heels thing... I tend to do the same thing when I'm wearing something that I hate. I end up not wanting anyone to see my outfit and I'll just hide out in my cube haha. Also, I try to leave my wallet when I go to the gym during lunch so I have no way to buy food.

    I have left my purse at home a few times because I also bring a gym bag, and sometimes I just end up bringing my gym bag. It sucked not having a wallet, but the temptation to buy lunch or coffee or whatever wasn't there.

  8. Leaving your money/credit cards at home is a GREAT idea. Then you just absolutely have zero ability to spend! Good idea.

    On a side note, why do women call high heels pumps? WHen I think 'pump', I think sump pump, which is of course not a shoe thing at all! Haha. But, pumps? Or maybe pumps aren't high heels but are some other shoe type ?? It's all very confusing.

  9. I'm not sure I'd intentionally buy shoes that didn't fit well just so I could avoid spending money.

    You may have actually saved enough throughout the week to pay for the shoes!

    We don't really use any tricks to save money. We try to stick to our budget and what we've allocated for "spending" is what we try to stick to.

    1. Post author

      Hahaha - they fit great! But if you've ever worn brand new heels (I'm assuming you haven't, lol!) they can be a little hard to break in.

  10. I think setting up a staging account like we have was the best way to trick ourselves that we've found yet. We don't want to spend money that we don't think we have obviously. (Okay, a little tiny bit of me still wants to say screw it...let's go to the mall...on credit! Don't brain is stronger than my heart for shopping!) Great ideas...and great job doubling your income in such a short period of time! You seem like a very hard working lady, so I know how you did it! Keep up the good work, Daisy.

  11. ahahahaha I love the uncomfortable shoe trick -- that actually just proves that a good pair of heels pays for themselves πŸ˜‰

  12. Anthony Thompson

    I like the first method the best, because it's the one that I've found to be the most effective. To this day, I leave debit and credit cards locked in a drawer at home. This not only keeps me from overspending, but also gives me peace of mind.

  13. Ha! Good tips... Glad to see I'm not the only one doing this - I pretend that I'm broke when I'm out and it really helps curb my
    day-to-day spending, which is where I always get in trouble too by the end of the month.

  14. I do stuff like this all the time. I won't bring my purse with me even if I don't go to work out in case I spend money. Instead, I window shop with the person that I go with. If I really want something I'll have to make another trip later to get it.

    I have a pretty nifty wallet with a few different zippered compartments. If I know that that I need milk money (as an example) I'll put $20 in a seperate compartment than my "left over" money. And when I go to see if I can buy something I 'forget' about that extra bit I have stashed away and go "hmm if I buy this Chinese food, I'll only have $5 to last me through until next paycheck." It's been working out so far!

  15. i do the same thing with my savings. its not in an account that i can easily get to, so i just prefer to think of it as not there. then when i get my statement, which i only get twice a year, i quickly file it and go on pretending its not actually there again.
    great tips

  16. I auto-invest like it's going out of style! Maybe I could also ask my wife to duct tape my cash to the middle of my back (right where I can't reach it) so if I wanted to buy something I could... but I'd have to ask someone to reach up my shirt and take the cash out or take my shirt off and rub my back against a corner until it got the $$ out... if the embarrassment wouldn't do it, the risk of arrest might. Just sayin'.

  17. I love these -- I trick myself, too. I tell myself I cannot afford to get treats, and I don't. I wait until I get home to eat, always. I always bring lunch to work, and if I leave, it's only to exercise. It's tough, but once you build the habit, you can easily continue. You could auto deposit some of your income in order to "feel" more broke.

  18. I love the shoe thing; I can TOTALLY understand the desire to not walk any further than is actually necessary, too.
    I'm very lucky with my current job, there is nowhere to buy food if you don't bring it. Well, there's a vending machine downstairs, but who can really survive on hickory sticks or doritos? We all tend to have stashes of soup or stuff in the freezer. [I work on a remote site, you can't leave.]

  19. What I do to limit my spending is transfer my automatic savings to my savings account as soon as my paycheck hits. That way I don't have anything in my checking other than my spending money. Can't spend it if it isn't there and it takes a couple days to transfer back.

  20. Katie

    I like the make it uncomfortable tip. That is very creative. I only take a certain amount of cash with me each day and I don't use debit or credit cards so it keeps my daily spending on track.

  21. Justin @ The Family Finances

    I don't know if it really counts as a trick, but I set automatic transfers every payday to move money into my various savings accounts. That way I don't let myself get in the way.

  22. These are all good suggestions. I usually only carry one $20 bill - which I hate to break! I find if I have smaller bills I'm more willing to spend, the $20 is my "emergency" stash.

    I have to start leaving the credit cards at home; our spending has definitely crept up this year and we need to reign it in!

  23. Thad @ thadthoughts

    I think using tricks to not spend is useful. Whatever it takes to not waste cash is worthwhile.

  24. First, congrats on the major income increase. Second, I agree with you. Tricking yourself into saving is important. Without some degree of accountability, all your money may dissipate, and it will all seem natural.

  25. I love pretending I have no money. If it never hits my checking account, it's like it doesn't exist in my mind. The shoe example is brilliant.

    The other tactic I used to use is being too busy to spend money. When I worked 3 jobs, I never had time to go out and spend and eat and shop. I saved tons and even ate at work for free (restaurant).

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  27. I actually have to keep my checking account artificially low or I start to spend more. After the 3rd or 4th time of doing it I figured out the pattern. Now I shove money into savings (at ING rather than my B&M bank) it makes it feel like it isn't mine anymore.

  28. Great idea Daisy - especially since we are often times our own worst enemy where finance is concerned!

    I remember my step-father gave me similar advice when I was learning to balance my check book (back when people still used such things!) He said to always round down when recording a deposit, and round up when recording an expense.

    Of course, this makes it very easy for the bank to get away with mistakes in rounding when calculating your interest or checking account balance, but the idea was to basically trick yourself into thinking you have less, so you spend less and end up with more.

    These days, I use ING for automatic savings... it's all recorded digitally so I know if there's an error, but the money goes into my savings before I ever see it so it is, as you say, out of sight out of mind!

  29. I can relate with your methods Daisy. Personally, I deposit my monthly savings into a brokerage account that I've configured to make withdrawals a pain. I didn't request the typical checks/debit card, so I have to fill out and fax a letter of authorization to get money out...I don't own a FAX machine.

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  40. Livia

    I love the example with the shoes πŸ™‚ but personally I just don't like making myself suffer so I can save money, which is why I'm bartering. I'm surprised how well that works. It's a bit like in this show Barter Kings. You give something you don't use anymore away and you get something really cool in return. Try, it's the best site out there.

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  43. Yes I know all about this. In fact I can sympathize especially when it comes to Sephora. The other day my wife ran out of the Lancome eye makeup remover she uses and sent me to Sephora to grab another one. Well I will say that I got talked into buying a bunch of other stuff for her primarily because they have good salespeople; but I shouldn't have made the purchases at all as it was the end of the month and money always get tight then. Had I left my credit card or debit card in the car and paid cash I would have only been able to buy what I went in for.

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