I do not excel at saving, and it’s entirely likely I never will. Largely due to a lack of self-control more than anything else, I have had to resort to unique ways to ensure that I don’t spend literally all of my money at one time. I’m not going to pretend that financially the baby boomers before us didn’t royally bone us, or make suggestions that you haven’t already heard.
If buying avocado toast brings you a small amount of joy then mate you do you, but my tips are designed to delay that part of your brain that means instant gratification takes over. Hopefully your lazy wins over your impulse buying, and these help you save enough for a bigger treat.
Freeze your credit card (if you can’t ditch it)
This one is for those of us who can’t ditch their plastic. If you’re like me then you love to have it for the financial stability you’ve tricked yourself into thinking a credit card gives you. Sure you told yourself you’d “only use it for emergencies” but really isn’t a 70% off sale kind of an emergency when it comes just before payday?
With that in mind if cancelling the card altogether isn’t a viable option you need to lock that shit down. When I say “freeze your credit card” I literally mean freeze your credit card. A la ‘Confessions of a Shopoholic’ slapping your card in a mug and freezing it in some water means that you can still physically get it in an emergency. In any other situation you’ll have time to seriously think about whether or not defrosting the card is worth it, and generally it really isn’t.
Make sure to also freeze it with the card details facing down so you can’t read these through the ice.
Clear your saved card details
If you’ve had your debit or credit card a little while then chances are you’ve got it saved on a number of websites. Freezing your card is all well and good for physical purchases, but the next time you get a few red wines in you then drunk shopping is going to undo the work you’ve already done.
With that in mind go into your apps, Paypal, websites, anywhere that has it, and delete the saved card information. This means that in order to use your card now you have to physically enter it in at the time of purchase, and to physically enter it you have to unfreeze it from the step above.
If you have accidentally, or purposely, memorised your card number then call your bank to get a new one. Activate it, freeze it, and simply don’t update your card information. When making purchases in the future DO NOT save the new card.
Get a locked savings account, and clear your credit debt
If you have any money left over once all of your bills and living costs are done then you have two options moving forward. If you have disposable income, and the above steps are working for you, then your main goal is to clear any of your debt. Having savings is all well and good but the interest on credit cards is much higher than any interest from savings, so clearing that card is your number one priority.
If like me you lack the self-control to do this then you need to approach this problem a different way. First make sure you are meeting your minimum monthly card payments and deduct that from your remaining money. Once done divide the rest in half, put one half towards paying your debt, and the other into a locked savings account.
There are different accounts that will work based on what kind of goal you have. If you already know what your financial goal is, then pick the one best suited for that. If not then I would recommend what I personally have. While I can transfer money into my locked savings account, the only way to get money out of it is by calling my bank. A twenty-minute hold is a very effective tool to curtail spending.
Put someone else in charge
If you’re properly fucked and you can’t do any of this then you need help. If your parents are decent with money then this is the best place to start, as they’ll also be free. Otherwise family and friends work if you are sure they know what they are doing, and you don’t mind the idea of your Aunt judging you for spending over $100 on Chinese takeout in a month.
If this isn’t working, or nobody you know makes the cut, then get yourself a financial planners because there are only so many financial holes you can dig yourself out of. They don’t come cheap so do your homework first, and make sure you look at the kind of fee structure they have.
The key to sticking with it is just like a diet – treat yourself, but do so in moderation. Keep those treats to $10 a week and go forwards.