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Making It Harder on Yourself to Spend Money

By Cary Anderson

We live in a world of convenience. Anything we want is just a couple of clicks or blocks away. With the passing of a token in front of a magnetic card reader, a quick swipe of a card on a merchant’s iPhone, or a “one-click” checkout button at a popular online retailer, spending money has never been easier. This convenience, however, can be detrimental to the frugal-minded among us. So how might we fight back? How might we make spending money less convenient and therefore cut back on expenses? Here are some ideas:

Leave the Payment Options Behind

We like to leave our homes with a wallet loaded with credit cards and other payment options. It’s our holster for commerce. In a moment’s notice, we can whip out a card or cash and be purchasing something we weren’t even intending on buying before we left the house. But why do we make it so easy on ourselves? Leave the house with only the payment options you expect to need for that evening.

Credit card companies love to market their product as an “in case of emergency” tool that we should have on us at all times. But honestly, how often are we faced with a true emergency where our credit card was our final lifeline? It just doesn’t happen. On a simple trip out of the house to meet a friend for ice cream, take just the $5 you’ll need for that excursion and leave the rest of your payment options at home. You can’t get into trouble if you didn’t come equipped to play the game.

Lose the Credit Cards

Every frugal-minded person should set it as a goal for themselves to get completely out of credit card debt and cut up every card they own save for perhaps one to use only when needed and responsibly. One can even go so far as to close the accounts if they wish. Just be aware that this will impact your credit score since the sum of credit being extended to you has gone down which therefore makes you seem like a riskier investment to lenders (ironic, isn’t it?) Credit cards are a cancer we should all seek to eradicate from our lives. It won’t happen overnight, but you can get out of credit card debt with persistence, right action, and time.

Be More Aware of Your Spending

Since spending money is so simple and easy, we often aren’t even that aware when we’re doing it. A few dollars for a coffee here, a couple clicks to pay an online bill there, no big deal. Just all part of a typical day. But what if we made an effort to become really aware of the money we spent? What if we treated each and every dollar that left our nest as like saying goodbye to a friend? Melodramatic, sure, but wouldn’t it allow us to notice more of our spending?

This failure of awareness of our spending habits can be our downfall. We spend money out of habit and routine. We spend money subconsciously without even realizing it! It has become a cathartic aspect to existence in our society. Buying a little something that we don’t need helps us feel like we belong. This is, of course, silly. Anchoring our sense of connection and value to the world through our pocketbooks is madness! How much of our spending is done just out of a desire to feel a rush of “being alive”? Is there anything else you could do to get this feeling? What about just smiling at someone to see if you can get them to smile back? It might seem esoteric, but it really works.

Slow down. Be aware. Ask yourself, “do I really need to part with these dollars right now?” You can always opt to wait a little while and make the purchase later. The merchant will still be there waiting.

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