Tricking Ourselves to Save Money

Today we have a guest post from Katie Martens. Katie is here to tell us about how she and her husband trick themselves into saving up to $150 extra each month. Take it away Katie!

6757871357_f3f060a40c_zThere’s nothing more satisfying, at least financially, than getting paid for your work. If you’re a W-2 employee, you can count on that satisfying ka-ching in your bank account with reassuring regularity. And then what happens after the ka-ching? You spend all the money.

Maybe not, and obviously that’s not the goal, but sometimes that’s how it feels because you’ve worked hard, you deserve to kick back a little, right? Perhaps you enjoy a few extra dinners out, or you buy that pair of jeans you’ve been eyeing since last month’s paycheck. It’s the classic mindset a friend told me once: “Steak at the beginning of the month, ramen by the end of the month.”

My husband and I have this mindset, and have discovered two important things to combat our proclivity to award our hard work by spending ALL the money.


Awareness or recognition of your inclination to spend all the money. I know this sounds basic, but I once had a roommate who complained at the end of every month that there was always more month than money. It never occurred to her that maybe going out for dinner and drinks 4 nights out of 7  for the first 3 weeks of the month was not an efficient use of her monthly paycheck. As GI Joe says: knowing is half the battle. And I’ll take GI Joe a step further: knowing yourself is half the battle.

Actionable Steps

This second point takes you from awareness stage to action steps. In the case of my husband and I, we inadvertently arrived at the solution to our spending tendencies. Here’s how it went down: husband had to purchase a new car, and the best car loan rate he could find was with the local credit union. Rather than just divert the minimum amount from his paycheck into the credit union for the car payments, he set it up to divert about $35 extra each month.

When we purchased our first home together, the bank with the best loan rate was not the bank we kept our personal accounts, so when we diverted mortgage payments into the home loan bank account we added about $75 in addition to our mortgage payments.

Finally, we set up a bank account for a separate business venture that created passive income from a monetized youtube account.

In the course of an average month, we managed to divert about $100-$150 into other accounts that we just completely forgot about. By adding a little extra money into accounts that we already had to make payments into, like car and house payments, we managed to save enough so that when we had to pay for a down payment on our next house, we had all the cash we needed.

Admittedly, it’s not for everyone and may be a little more work, but we have everything set up on automatic debit and automatic payments, so we never really saw that money when we heard the ka-ching each month. And for us, it’s great to feel as though we can fall back on these pockets of money if we came into an emergency, like when we purchased our second house and within the first month of moving in, the furnace went out.

So if you’re like me - you get paid for your work, you have monthly payments for stuff like cars or homes, and your Pavlovian response to that ka-ching might be to spend all the money - look into setting up your monthly payments to include some extra money. It’s not the most ideal or most fiscally disciplined mode of saving money, and you may not get the best interest rate on your diverted money, but it’s better than spending it on the new pair of shoes sitting in your closet.

Katie is an attorney and writer, who loves thrifting and is currently reading the Outlander book series. Catch up with her random musings at Eat, Drink, and Remodel.


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5 thoughts on “Tricking Ourselves to Save Money

  1. This is a good strategy and one we essentially do to make extra payments on our mortgage principal. One of our practical "strategies" is to just not go shopping in stores. We go to the grocery store (ALDI) once a week and get almost all groceries and household products there. A few other things come from Amazon subscribe & save. This keeps us from impulse buying at retail stores and streamlines our expenses, as well as saving time.

    1. Great idea. I just read an article about buying a lot of bulk dry goods through Amazon if you have prime, so I'm toying with the idea of reducing one more temptation, grocery shopping.

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