Counter Intuitive Way of Lowering Your Spending

by David Ning · 11 comments

It’s not that I don’t like saving money (yes I do), but when weeks go by without me splurging, that wallet of mine seems to vibrate by itself. The urge is always to press snooze by buying something, but the silence only lasts for a short while.

It’s amazing to me how this works but it seems like the less I spend, the less I want to spend. I used to want to go out for lunches all the time. But now that I work at home and haven’t eaten out for a while, I don’t feel the need to go out and grab a bite.

I used to have a bowl of ice-cream every night when I was a teenager, and boy would I want one if the sugar rush haven’t started by 9 pm. I still love that sweet taste, but I don’t feel like life is crashing down nowadays when I don’t have a bowl. I think smoking works the same way, but there’s no nicotine in ice-cream I don’t think (at least that’s what the product label tell me).

It even works with diets I think. The less I eat, I less I want to eat. If I continue eating big meals, the more hungrier I get in the days following. It’s as if my stomach can expand and shrunk on minutes notice, but it’s more my desire bubble that does the inflating and deflating.

Reducing your spending this way is not for the faith of heart though. The beginning days are just awful as you have to endure that stupid vibrating wallet. The telepathic vibration is so strong that no matter how well hidden your wallet, it will know how to call for you.

If you can continue to ignore it, the vibration will then become less frequent. Each time, it will have less strength until one day, you don’t feel it vibrating anymore.

If your wallet is vibrating right now, maybe it’s better to let it be so it runs out of batteries by itself.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

SimplyForties February 19, 2009 at 6:56 am

You are so right, non-necessary spending is a habit. I’ve managed to get myself out of the habit of spending money. Now if I can just manage to stop eating chocolate.

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Neal Frankle February 19, 2009 at 7:16 am

Another direct hit David. Spending is in deed often a frame of mind. We’ve cut back at home and in the office big time. Somehow, we’re surviving. We’re probably just as happy if not happier.

And by the way, if you think cutting spending is hard, try giving up coffee.

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Aya @ Thrive February 19, 2009 at 7:19 am

Entirely true. Everything becomes a habit, and it’s dangerous. It becomes second nature, and that’s when you know you’re in trouble. The worst part is many people can’t recognize what they’re doing, and that it’s become a habit. If only more of us could actively be aware of our spending behaviors…

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Matt @ StupidCents February 19, 2009 at 9:56 am

You got it. I’ve been holding back my spending the past few months. Now, I don’t even miss the little things I used to buy. My bank account thanks me.

Stupidly Yours,

Matt

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Imani February 19, 2009 at 10:39 am

You make good points about not spending starting a vibrating in one’s wallet.

Here’s how I’ve learned to deal with that…I spend right into my ING account. If I budget $400 for home heating fuel and I only need to spend $350, the other $50 gets “spent” in my ING account. Gives me the same rush as going to a store and the money is still and always mine, plus it earns interest. The more times I do it, the more I want to do it and I do. It can even be as little as a $15 deposit.

This is helping me to build my emergency fund and to pre-pay the MacBook I hope to buy by the end of the year. Double adrenaline rush.

I enjoy your blog and thank you for the time and effort you put into it.

Best Regards,
Imani

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UH2L February 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

The part about eating is hilarious, because on my blog, I wrote the quote, “The more I eat, the more I eat.” It’s very true.

As for spending money, if you stop yourself from buying when you have time, you often find that a lot of time has passed and you forgot that you wanted to buy it in the first place and you realize that you’re doing just fine without it.

That said, we earn money partially to enjoy it. So when I want to buy nice things that are somewhat expensive, I plan ahead and I budget. If I spend a lot on something, then I don’t buy any thing significant for a while.

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Scott @ The Passive Dad February 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm

When my wallet starts vibrating, can I pour water on it to stop? I’ve found that going to the store with a buddy who is also frugal can be a huge help in avoiding the splurge purchases. I tend to go frugal for months and then get an itch for something techie and cool, something that can help me organize my life and be more productive. Man those productive tools can be so expensive.

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Matthew February 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Reason why you desire less food when you’ve not eaten much is because your stomach is not all stretched out, like when you gorge. Eating many small meals keeps everything running much smoother down there.

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TStrump February 21, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Same thing seems to happen to me – if I don’t spend for a certain amount of time, my wallets starts to vibrate, too.
I suppose I could leave my wallet at home … actually, leaving my credit card at home seems to be working.

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Corey February 22, 2009 at 12:40 am

Great comparison. Although perhaps starving yourself money-wise is a bit more healthy than foodwise haha.

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EgoNemo January 28, 2011 at 11:01 am

Bull hockey.

“It even works with diets I think. The less I eat, I less I want to eat. ”

Don’t know of properly functioning human being who reacts that way.

A lack of appetite is typically a symptom of disease. Yes, eating too much is a problem, but so is eating too little.

The comparison is not apt. What you’re really struggling to say is that OVEReating and OVERspending can be habit-forming, and that this bulk habits cause damage because they reset our sense of how much is necessary to high.

So, cutting back on eating or spending to a necessary level can, often painfully, be an effective way to resent back down to more rational rates of consumption.

But as you have pointed out eloquently elsewhere, separating needs from wants can be difficult and is often not clear cut.

We also know, intuitively, that we do need stuff to survive. It is possible, while trying to do good for ourselves, we do harm. If we demonize all food, for example, we risk anorexia, an unhealthy obsession with food that damagingly distorts the value of food to us as much — or more — than regular old overeating.

Mere cutting back is good, but cutting back to what? Better to build up from zero a health food and monetary ‘budget,’ than risk unhealthy obsessions by assigning a good feeling to every act of self-denial.

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