I know what you’re thinking. You expect me to write “make a budget, leave it at home, blah, blah.” Well you’re wrong. Obviously, those methods don’t work, because people have been posting them since the first financial advisor put finger to keyboard. No, I went out of my way to find alternatives that actually function. The first one (involving a chain, a table saw, and your hand) was denounced by the humane society, so I’m down to five slightly odd methods. If you have a serious spending problem, take a deep breath and try these:
1. Gelatinize and Freeze
You know the old “leave your credit card at home” trick? Yeah, it doesn’t work.
Because when your mind sees something it wants, it won’t quit bugging you. Your brain will make you think of it again and again, sometimes for days. The trick is to stall until it loses interest, and keeping your card at home doesn’t cut it. So here’s what you do instead:
- Fill a favourite ceramic mug or glass of water, big enough to hold your card.
- Stick the card in it.
- Chuck it in the freezer.
To use your card impulsively, you’ll need to break the container as well. The only way to get the card out is to let it slowly thaw, and by then, you would have found some other distraction. And if it’s a major purchase worth making, well, you take your time to really think about it as the ice melts.
The other alternative is jello. You know how to do the old office trick where you make jello around someone’s stationery? Yes? Then you’re probably an annoying jerks and I hate you, because it’s not funny. But anyway, you can do the same thing to your credit card. Make jello, drop the card in it, and leave it in the back of your fridge.
Not as awesome as ice, but it’s so troublesome to do it again that you’ll think twice.
2. A List You’ll Never Use
Before going shopping, make an exact list of what you need. Then pay attention, because this next part is important:
Give the list to someone else. Give it to a relative, along with your credit card or a supplementary card. The whole idea is to make sure you don’t set foot in the store. Because if you’ve got the self control of a rock star in an unguarded pharmacy, the whole “make a list and stick to it” method is a sad joke.
And you’ll want to keep to this routine, for maybe a month or two. Just go straight home from work, and leave it to mum or auntie to hit the stores with your card.
You can trust them with your card right?
3. Flame Wars
Join every Internet forum about things you love, and some about things you hate (like the Twilight forum). I also recommend sites like Reddit, which will quickly take over your life. This comes out of personal experience; once I got hooked on forums, my shopping time completely evaporated. Between 2009 – 2011, I more than halved my expenses by switching to online distractions.
When you have a constant stream of messages, and you’re part of an online community, you’ll want to go home instead of blowing your money at the mall. Or at a night club somewhere. Does it mean having no life? Maybe.
No, wait. Definitely.
But if your debt is out of control, one obsession can replace another. So long as most of your nights are spent arguing pointless things like whether Memebase sucks, you aren’t out there accumulating bills. Just remember: No shopping sites, and no video games. Don’t you dare download Steam.
4. Never Go Out on Weekdays
Most freelancers and students already know this: When you go to the mall on weekdays, you will swipe that credit card.
The reason is simple: You are probably alone. When something gets your attention, there’s no crowd to get in the way. It’s just you, the product, and smiling store attendants. And without other customers to deal with, those store attendants focus all their efforts on you. And if you’re already the sort to get into debt, trust me, a soggy banana peel would put up more resistance.
Likewise, the desolation does crazy things to your spending habits. Movies tickets are cheap, supermarkets have no queues, and popular restaurants always have seats. The traps are numerous, and your debt control will not survive.
So even if the opportunity arises, don’t hang around malls on weekday afternoons.
5. Interesting Wallpaper
Grab all the credit card bills and receipts. Photocopy them. Then, plaster them all over the following places:
- Your cubicle at work (Don’t care if colleagues see it. Their comments will keep you on your toes)
- Your room door
- On the TV set (Better if it blocks the view)
- In your bag (Literally chuck the balls of paper in your bag)
The point is to provide a visual reminder of your debt. When you’re done putting up your bills, it should look like a wall full of crazy. And your bag should feel like you’re rummaging in the waste bin. That’s the point. It’s to remind you of how bat-droppings crazy your spending habits are, and all the garbage you’re wasting your life on.
Every time you make a repayment, reward yourself by peeling one of the bills away. If you have to, start by clearing away the smaller debts and closing the less used credit lines; it creates a more visual impression of progress.
Do you know any weird tricks to keep credit card spending under control? Comment and let us know!
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Tags: Credit Cards