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The “If You Walk There, You Can Spend It” Budget

by J. Money on Wednesday, August 7, 2013

gentleman walking

That was the subject line of an email I had in my drafts. Which unfortunately I failed to elaborate on, and now left to wonder what brilliant idea I had all those weeks ago, haha…

I thought it might be fun to take some guesses though and see what we can make out of it? ;) Back during that time frame we were living at my mother-in-law’s and taking tons of walks around the neighborhood – all of which were miles away from any store – so here’s where I think I was going with this “walking budget” concept:

If I really want to buy X, and I’m willing to walk to the store to get it – however far it may be – then I’m allowed to pick it up for myself. As long as I walk there :)

That way only the stuff you REALLY want will be bought cuz you have to go way out of your way to get it. The only thing lacking with this though is the “budget” part. As it doesn’t clue us in as to what types of amounts or caps we have to play with (what if I want a new jag? Would it fit in my budget as long as I walked those 10 miles to pick it up? Of course not). But I’m guessing we’d be smart enough to know our own situations before walking out that door…

Here’s another route I might have been going with this:

If I walked from point A to point B, I could save $____ in gas, and then could use that money to buy my desired object!

Makes sense in theory, right? :) The kicker here though is that you’d have to walk pretty damn far in order to save any decent amount of money from gas whatsoever. Even if you had a massive guzzler like my ol’ Cadillac. So unless you’d be willing to walk 80 or 90 miles to reach that store and get your object (and make the return trip too!), it’s a lost cause from the get go… And perhaps why I never finished writing out my thoughts in that draft, haha… It should have been deleted! ;)

Regardless, the takeaway here is that it never hurts to try out new idea or methods in order to help keep yourself on track. As silly as some of them may sound, you’ve gotta spice things up every now and then so you don’t get stuck in a rut. Or worse – give up on your goals. Especially as your motivation starts waning.

I’ll probably lay to rest this “walking budget” since I can’t totally make sense off it like I had hoped, but it is a nice reminder to get out there today and take some long walks at least :) Maybe I’ll get healthier AND find something exciting for the 5 cents I’ll have just saved?! Haha…

What do you guys make of this half-baked idea? Anyone else trying some creative budgeting approaches these days?

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(Photo by hokkey)


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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies August 7, 2013 at 5:42 am

I’ve tried to implement this at different times for sweets like ice cream bars and candy. If I think I want it, I know I really want it if I’m also willing to walk to go get it. Plus the walking helps with a little pre-emptive calorie burning.

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2 Aimee August 7, 2013 at 6:46 am

This definitely sounds like a diet trick more than a spending trick although it could work depending on a person’s situation. If some one lives in a city and has realized they spend a small fortune on parking/transportation costs to entertain themselves or shop then this rule could really help. Let’s say this person really likes a burger joint across town that costs $20 per meal and will typically pay a $10 (I don’t know if this is reasonable I’m from the sticks) cab ride each way to go there every Monday night. Walking there will make them think twice before doing this every week and cut the cost of their beloved burger in half in the weeks they do decide to make the journey. The walk would also allow them to discover other less expensive burger joints along the way AND count as a free activity.

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3 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Haha there you go! Didn’t even think of the diet/exercise part of the equation, but you’re totally right. Can def. help get the mind right.

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4 Free Money Minute August 7, 2013 at 7:00 am

When I go out for walks, I typically will pick up cans and bottles that have a deposit (in Michigan, each can can be redeemed for a dime). I was out this weekend and found 4 cans (in addition to the 2 I was already carrying, but I couldn’t find a bag to carry them home with. We eventually went to the lake to swim and I was going to drive over and pick up those cans. I decided against it because the gas spent may have been the .40 I would have gained from the bottles. So, I decided to walk the 1/2 mile with a bag to go pick up those 4 cans. Anyway, I thought that fit the theme of this post. If I walk to get those cans, then I can spend/save the .40 that I will get when I turn them in.

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5 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Nice!! There you go! I love that.

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6 miranda@beyondworklifebalance.com August 7, 2013 at 7:03 am

Love this idea. I am lucky that I can walk to my job – it is 2 miles there and 2 miles back, but I love the exercise (and it is only 10 minutes slower than driving). I can do errands on my way home and I love the gas I save. Also I have to be very strategic about the groceries I buy. I can only buy what I can comfortably carry for a mile..

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7 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Wow, good for you. What about when it rains and snows?? Are you that hardcore? :)

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8 Holly@ClubThrifty August 7, 2013 at 8:10 am

That wouldn’t work well for me since there are a ton of stores within a ten minute walk from my house! I would be in trouble =)

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9 LeRainDrop August 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Yeah, I’d be in trouble if I applied that rule, too, as I live in a great walking area with ready access to several restaurants and shopping. Yay! However, I actually do apply it in one particular circumstance — There’s a great cafe across the park from me, which takes 20 minutes to walk to if I walk at a quick pace; typically on a Saturday or Sunday, I am willing to treat myself to lunch there if I walk. It’s a win-win-win because I get fresh and heathy food for a reasonable price and that I don’t have to take the effort to prepare/clean-up, a bit of fresh air and exercise, and an enjoyable walk through the park with plenty of interesting people-watching :-)

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10 John S @ Frugal Rules August 7, 2013 at 8:38 am

Like others have said, I’ve always used this as a dietary trick as opposed to a financial one. That said, it might hold some water assuming if it’s done in reason and not to buy a Jag. ;)

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11 Pauline August 7, 2013 at 8:52 am

I like the idea, but the next shop is 20 miles away, that may be tricky. It is far enough that even getting there by car is demotivating.

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12 Slackerjo August 7, 2013 at 8:56 am

I like doing my errands on my bike because I feel as if I am cheating the system. I am saving money by using my bike instead of my car AND getting exercise.

I will admit, if I bike to my mom’s house (round trip about 30km) I get to stop at the DQ and buy a chocolate dipped cone.

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13 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Mmmmm…. Dairy Queen….

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14 Tony Rapley August 7, 2013 at 8:58 am

I think this is a good idea unless you live in NYC, where people pretty much walk everywhere. Adopting this policy would only curve my online spending.. which actually saves me money when compared to B&M stores :)

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15 Smart Mama August 7, 2013 at 9:46 am

I think you could have done a take on this:

If you “walk” yourself step by step through your budget and you see how your purchase would fit in without “breaking the bank,” then by all means go for it and buy it! Don’t hesitate and feel guilty because maybe it’s something you just “want” and don’t really “need.” However, the “walking” is important so you don’t do something stupid…

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16 Tara @ Streets Ahead Living August 7, 2013 at 10:07 am

Like Holly says above, I think this only would work well for me to curb dessert eating, especially since I walk everywhere already. I guess if this means no bus use either, just straight walking to pick up the item, it would be a bigger deterrent.

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17 No Waste August 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

Being out in the ‘burbs, I live in a fundamentally un-walkable area.

But the upside is that it would take so long to get somewhere on foot that I’d probably forget why I left the house in the first place.

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18 Mark Ross August 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

Walking is really great for both our health and our financial-health as well. I normally take the train when going to school and then just walk, I don’t take the bus anymore. It’s good for me and I’m saving that’s why I do it.

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19 Mel August 7, 2013 at 11:07 am

Another thing to remember is if you walk to get it, you have to walk back with your purchase, so it allows you to not purchase more than you can carry! We live on a sailboat and the first thing we do when we sail into a new harbor is to find the nearest shops. We carry a backpack and I can tell you, I QUICKLY learned my lesson on impulse buying! Now I only buy what I need.

A trick I also use as a rule for buying is if I really want something that I don’t need (i.e. a new pair of impractical shoes, or a new outfit that costs more than I’d normally be comfortable spending), I go home and wait a week. If, after a week I even still remember that I wanted it (99% of the time I don’t), then I go back and buy it. Most of the time I forget about the “to die for” item after just a few hours. I’m sure this rule alone has saved me thousands of dollars!

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20 Pat August 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm

That’s what I came to say: carrying it back might make you think twice. And if you live on a boat, you’ll also have to find a place to keep it which I assume is not easy (unless you live on a tanker).

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21 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Nice! I love that backpack vision… And still can’t believe you live on a boat, Mel. So cool!

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22 Mary Anne @ BillGuard August 7, 2013 at 11:11 am

It sounds like your tactic is to make spending money as much of a pain-in-the-butt as possible, thus forcing you (psychologically) to save more. In other words, you’re making saving money more convenient, and spending money more inconvenient. That’s a great tactic, because — the way you’ve set it up — it’s harder to spend, rather than to save.

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23 SavvyFinancialLatina August 7, 2013 at 11:33 am

This is a really cool idea. I really want to start biking more to places. Which means I need to get a bike. Hopefully, after we get a house, I’ll get a bike, and start biking to places more often.

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24 Stefanie August 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

It might not be a viable plan in the suburbs, but it can definitely be implemented in NYC. A single subway ride costs $2.50. I’ve taken to walking or biking whenever possible and the savings add up fast.
If I really have to use transit to run an errand I’ll do what I can to combine it with another trip. I can’t justify spending $5 every time I need to go to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription.

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25 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

The only part w/ the subway thing that can backfire though is if you get unlimited passes :) Though not sure they have those anymore? It’s been a good 10 years since I last lived in NYC.

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26 Retire By 40 August 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm

We walk most days and it works for us because we live in the city. There are a lot of places we can go within walking distance.

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27 Nick @ ayoungpro.com August 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Haha, I like it! I live in an area that is relatively far away from most shopping areas, but not far enough that I couldn’t do it if I really wanted to. I bet this would help me save a lot of money and lose weight too!

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28 Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen August 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Haha what a fun idea. If you’re willing to walk there then you can buy it. I think I’ll try this on my husband. “You want to buy a new tv? Okay if you walk there and buy it and bring it back then sure!” That will surely save us some money!

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29 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

HAH! Just do me a favor and don’t tell him you got it from me, okay? :)

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30 Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans August 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Haha, I always do this! I draft potential blog posts with the title only and then weeks later I come back and I’m like, “huh?”

I do think that having to walk all the way to and from the store would be a great test as to whether the item you want to purchase is a worth it or not.

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31 Done by Forty August 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I think your first interpretation is pretty spot on. I realize there might be some purchases that don’t fit regardless of where your walking. But on top of some regular frugality, this seems like a good way to make sure you really want to make the purchase.

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32 Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) August 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm

LOL I have random scribbles like that on post it notes for blog post ideas. Sometimes it’s just a quick few words. Sometimes I wake up at night and write them down and look at it in the morning and have no idea what the hell I meant lol.

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33 Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa August 7, 2013 at 10:37 pm

I love this idea! Fiscal planning and a healthy diet!

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34 Daisy @ Young Finances August 7, 2013 at 11:32 pm

I actually really like this idea. If you are driven enough to get off your butt and go get it, then you clearly really want it! That just eliminates impulse purchases.

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35 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

That’s the gist! :)

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36 stephanie August 7, 2013 at 11:37 pm

J$$$$-I am so glad to be back to your blog! I spent almost 2 months with auditors at work so now I feel I have my life back, which means I can read AND respond!
I LOVE this blog ’cause about 3 months ago I decided to walk to the bank when I wanna make a withdrawal. Even if it’s for my weekly planned-for expenses, I still walk. And I cannot believe what a huge dif it’s made. I’ve come to really enjoy the 20-30 min walk (depending on which route I take). I think about all kinds of great things while I walk. And, if I need to do the grocery shopping, I just take my backpack, visit the bank, and hop across the avenue to the fresh-fruits-and-veggies market.
I really have become very aware of the extra withdrawals I was making, and that’s helped my bottom line. Next up, walk/ride my bike to work. Save a little on gas, and get my exercise.
As always, you’re my one and only (financial blog!)

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37 J. Money August 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Awwww thanks!!! Welcome back to an audit-free zone! :) Glad to have you, my friend.

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38 Katie (AsktheYoPro) August 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm

The whole walking to earn your purchases concept is pretty interesting. What if instead of speaking literally you thought of it metaphorically? If you complete a certain goal, then you’re aloud to make a purchase. It’s like a reward system. It’s an interesting thought to think about and I don’t think it’s a crazy idea at all.

Also, I like the “moral of the story” you come away with here; try to use creative ways to save and manage money spending. You definitely have to be creative when trying to save.

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39 J. Money August 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I think you should turn it into a new blog post for your site too ;)

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40 Alicia August 17, 2013 at 2:44 am

I implemented this idea when I was car-less a couple times in my life. I carefully shopped so that I could carry the groceries home. Occasionally on the bus Learned to bake bread because of all the squished loaves. Saved $$, burned calories, thought carefully about the need to carry soda home. Came to appreciate tap water, sun tea and other light, frugal choices. Plus less waste of food. E

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41 J. Money August 17, 2013 at 11:10 am

HAH! I get squished loaves all the time even when driving to the store ;) Good job being so frugal and conscientious!

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