In college I used to do this thing where I’d treat myself to a new t-shirt anytime I’d take a test.
It didn’t matter if I did well on the test or not (as long as I fully completed it, the perk was activated!), but as crazy as it sounds, it actually did wonders to my psyche! Not that I wasn’t going to take the tests anyways, but MAN did those carrots excite me during study time. And my part-time job helped keep it sustainable too (could you tell I didn’t have any money goals back then? :))
Nowadays I wouldn’t dream of rewarding myself like that, no less hanging out at the mall so much, but it did become obvious over time that I’m someone who accomplishes things much faster – and happier – when I’m tricked into doing them. As lame as that may sound.
So today I thought I’d share some of my current tricks I’ve been playing around with, along with more proven ones over the years in hopes it sparks some good experimenting on your end too. Some of these are finance-related and others not, but so far they’re all doing me a world of good.
Here they are!
#1. As soon as I put my kids to bed (8’ish) I hurry up and brush and floss my teeth, and then hop right into the shower
This helps me get “the chores” out of the way, thereby letting me enjoy the rest of the evenings with full bliss. But it also brought another unintended benefit – it forced me to stop snacking and drinking adult beverages throughout the night! Because after all, who wants to do their chores TWICE? (<– I literally have to remind my wife about this at least twice a week when she asks why I won’t help her indulge in more ice cream, haha… Sorry honey! Habits!)
PRO TIP: If you get into *bed* right after the shower, many other fun things start happening too ;)
#2. I’m not allowed to drink coffee anymore until I’m ready to do work-work
If you’re anything like me, once you wake up the first thing you think about is coffee. So you pour yourself a large cup, start doing some random tasks to work yourself up for the actual priorities, then pour yourself another one when it’s time to get down to business. The problem with this is that by that time you actually get to the meat and potatoes you’ve already downed two cups! And now you have to get through the whole day without crashing else you keep pumping more into your veins!
So in an attempt to cut back AND be more efficient with my working, last Spring I inducted a new rule that said No Coffee Until You’re Ready To Do Real *Actual* Work, Sir. No more sipping and reading and just passing the time. You can dilly dally all you want, but until you’re ready to get to the important stuff, no caffeine will touch your lips.
And do you know what this did? A) Force me to get to my work a helluva lot faster, and b) indeed cut down on my intake! Because the first cup is always enough to power me through major item #1, and then when it’s time to work on major item #2 I’m ready for a refill and then it’s lunch time. And ever since enacting this I haven’t wanted to gorge myself anymore after that. Probably because I now associate it with “having to do work” :)
#3. When I’m around people, no looking at my phone
I’ve blogged about this one before, but I used to be horrible at staring at the screen instead of the person in front of me. The only way I knew how to break it was to make up a rule, so now I’m not allowed to pick up my phone whenever a living breathing being is around. I still slip up from time to time, but it’s proven rather successful, and the main reason I know this is because now I’M the one on the other end being ignored! And it sucks! Haha…
#4. Once my money is invested, I’M NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH IT!
This is a big one, and probably the only way I’ve been able to grow my net worth so quickly over the years. You can be as good as anyone at stashing your money somewhere, but if you’re constantly transferring it back and forth, what’s the point?
Saving only counts when it *stays* there.
You either put your money away and LEAVE IT ALONE, or you figure out how to budget better and save yourself from thinking you’re saving when you’re not. The way I’ve learned to do this well is to choose accounts that will *penalize you* up the a$$ if you pull from them. Namely, retirement accounts.
This is why I push all my investments through them!
Yes they’re great for taxes/matches/etc, but it also REMOVES THE TEMPTATION to pull from. And forces you to live like you’re poorer too, since you never see any of the money hitting your accounts (at least if you automate it). Best trick ever for my finances.
PRO TIP: For all you FIRE people – check out MadFientist.com and GoCurryCracker.com to find out how to then *convert* all that money later to be used earlier than 62… But not too early, or you’re back to the beginning again!
#5. I can splurge on my hobby, but only with money the hobby itself makes
I’ve had my love and hate with coin collecting, but once I figured out the hate was mainly out of internal reasons and not external, I’ve been officially back on the loving train again :) Which is good for “having fun,” but could easily be bad for my wallet without any limits placed (as often is the case with hobbies).
So to keep things in check, I’m only allowed to spend money on buying coins with the money I’ve made in *selling* coins. This not only lets me indulge in my hobby guilt-free, but also to be more conscious of what I buy, and why. Not un-similar to how we should be spending our regular money too!
Currently I have $250’ish in an envelope for this, and I tend to spend about $50/mo on the hobby.
[Shameless plug: the best coin blog EVER! –> CoinThrill.com]
#6. Lastly, here’s one I’ve started trying this week: before you buy something, ask yourself first what you’d be willing to pay for it!
I caught this over at Sarah’s blog, YesandYes.org, and I just love how simple – yet genius – it is. How better to place a value on something than actually *placing a value on that something* before you find out the true price? If you valued it higher than it costs, voila! Decision made! (So long as you can afford it, anyways). And if it’s a price much higher than you valued it, voila again – decision made!
I’ve done this over the years without even realizing it, like when buying a pair of shoes (“if it’s $40 and under they’re mine!”) all the way up to our last car purchase (“Please be under $20,000, please be under $20,000!”), but it’s a great thing to try and make a habit out of too.
Even when some things you can never put a value on (internet, coffee, sex ;)).
So yeah – a few things to consider!
I’ll shout whenever others make the list, but in the meantime here are a handful of other tricks and hacks/habits to consider as well:
- 11 Awesome Money Ideas
- 29 Quick Money Tricks
- Become a Mad Scientist w/ Your $$$
- 20+ Triggers to Hack Your Life & Money
- More Inductions To The Saving Hacks Hall of Fame!
Let us know if you’ve tried any of them before! Or better yet, share some of the ones you’re currently doing! Could be financial or otherwise – we’ll take all the life help we can get :)
PS: I feel like superheroes have the best tricks of all – throw on a suit and you can do anything! I think we need to come up with our own: “Financial Freedom Man?” “Debt Slayer?” “Super (Budget) Woman?” Only 3 weeks left until Halloween, just sayin’…
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!