Kicking the 30 Day Spending Rule Up a Notch

by David Ning · 20 comments

I’m not much of a rules kinda guy, but the 30 day spending rule is one that you should consider adopting. It is pretty simple – wait 30 days every time you want to make a purchase. If you still think it’s worth the cost after a month, then go buy it, but chances are good that your desire to spend faded by then.

In recent memory, I have, at one point or another, wanted to buy the following:

  • Flip Mino Camcorder
  • iPhone 3GS
  • Golf Clubs (2 wedges to be exact)
  • Laptop
  • Study Course that’s More Hype than Anything Else

Luckily, none of these “toys” passed the 30-day test. Otherwise, I would be drowned in debt and be busy regretting my decisions instead of speaking with you.

Adding Some Spice to the Waiting Rule

Okay, that wasn’t really interesting. So many of us already know this rule. We either use it already, or we’ve decided that it’s not worth the effort. Either way, we don’t need to read this rule again.

In order to add a twist to the rule, how about paying someone else the amount when you want to buy a product? What would happen if I paid my wife $1,000 (or whatever the laptop cost) if I wanted to buy it? After 30 days, if I still want it, my wife and I can go buy it. If 30 days go by and I decide that it’s not necessary anymore, my wife can give me back the money.

A little complicated and cumbersome? That’s the point. It’s probably a good thing for spending to be difficult since it will slow down that itchiness to buy buy buy. Other advantages include:

  • You Must Have the Means – Unless the person you send the money to owns a credit card processing company, chances are great that she doesn’t want to accept your visa card. If you want to buy something, you better already have the funds.
  • You Feel the Lost – For 30 days, you are missing that chunk of cash and you can get a sense of how it feels emotionally without that amount of money. While it’s never the same as permanently losing it, at least it’s better than just buying with your credit card and not really knowing how much it stings until your bill arrives.
  • You Get a Reward – If you don’t end up buying the product, you get money. It can almost pass as a reward for not buying something.

This idea just came to me so I can’t say that I’ve thought through the pros and cons.  Am I a genius or is it going to be a big waste of time?  Have you tried it?  Let’s us here what you think by commenting below.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one } July 20, 2009 at 5:46 am

Very good idea David. I love the 30 day rule because it really allows you enough time to do the research to actually determine if that expensive item is really worth it. You get the time to compare features, read expert reviews, and read customer reviews. In addition for hot new items that are just released (like the new iPhone) you get to see if there are any glitches or unexpected problems with the item.

I like the 30 day rule that’s similar to yours but with a small twist. You make your own layaway plan. Set $20, $30 or $50 a week aside into your savings account. When you have the money saved you evaluate whether you still want the item or not. Often when compared to the new money that you’ve forced yourself to save the shiny new toy looks less shiny and the “new found” money looks more tempting than the potential purchase.


DDFD @ DivorcedDadFrugalDad July 20, 2009 at 7:26 am

Solid advice. A self-imposed “cooling off” period is well advised to anyone, including those with the means to make a snap purchase.


CJ Perry July 20, 2009 at 8:27 am

Interesting idea. It definitely allows for some accountability as well. It gives your spouse an opportunity to talk you out of it. I think I’ll have to try this out with my wife and see how it goes.


UH2L July 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I like the idea, especially how you get a “bonus” of money back. I’ve been deferring big expenditures because I get too busy to research and shop. Often that causes the urge to buy to subside. Another thing that happens to me is that unexpected expenditures come up and then I realize I’m glad I didn’t buy what I originally wanted. All that being said though, you can wait forever to buy things you want, but life is finite. Waiting around to buy things to see if you’ll want them in the future just reduces the amount of time you get to enjoy the things.


Journey July 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

This is a great idea.


marci July 20, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Nope. 30 days is nothing. Should be 6 months minimum – a year is even better. By that time, you’ll either really decide it’s a good thing, or will have forgotten all about it. Works like a charm.

Mine get written on a list inside the kitchen cupboard – with a date. A year later, if it hasn’t been crossed off as a fad wish, then and only then will I buy it. If it’s not worth waiting for, then it’s probably not something I really need.


Jay August 7, 2009 at 9:32 am

I think with your plan it might be a good idea to set up a CD with the “purchase” amount in it. Technically you are spending the money, or will have no access to it for 6 months, a year, or what not. Then at that point you can spend it or not, even get a little bit of interest while you are at it.


RichBy30RetireBy40 July 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Good rule on waiting 30 days. It’s an excellent rule actually. I have my own spin on resisting the urge to splurge, which is to actually go buy the thing, but return.



Rich By 30 Retire By 40


Wilson Pon July 21, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Ning, what you’re trying to say here is we have to against the desire face to face. See if we can win over it or not. If we did, then the items/stuffs that we’re wanting are not so important to us.


Free Arcade Games July 22, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I have since adopted my wife’s philosophy on if you don’t spend now, you may die tomorrow without enjoying what you want.

I was once like you and probably still am in certain ways, but it really is true if you think about it. If you die tomorrow or get into a serious injury or health problem, the stuff you wanted to enjoy goes away.



Cynthia July 3, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I get your point that you don’t want to just hoard money and NEVER have fun or get what you want/need, but keep in mind that you are essentially betting on your early death… how fun is that?

What if you take good care of yourself and live to a ripe old age, but since you spent all your money in your youth, your old age is broke and miserable?

Another thing to keep in mind if you are cynical regarding an early death: think of who else will benefit or be hurt by your fiscal habits. Are you leaving family with debt and a lack of security or might you die and leave your son/brother/cousin a nice little nest egg to help them out?

I get that some extreme frugality sucks the joy out of life, but have a little balance and don’t bet against your health and longevity as a spending philosophy!


Lee Nichols March 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Bam! You hit it right on the head. I am soooooooooo happy when I delay my decisions at least a few weeks, because I’ve ended up CONSUMING so much less, and investing more. 30 years laters, what a relief! Well said.


Moose Goose May 17, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I think frugality adds to the joy in life. It’s mindless spending that sucks the joy out of life. Frugality enables you to have the money for the things that truely improve your quality of life, for example tooth crowns/tooth implants, teeth night guards, etc. You can probably guess what my latest health issue is and boy am I glad I have the money to fix it. When you think about the common things that people covet, such as designer purses and shoes, chances are good that they are made by slave labor in third world countries or countries that have little to no labor laws. They are products of human suffering. And to add insult to injury, they cost a fortune. Pretty gross.


Witty Artist June 13, 2011 at 6:56 am

Interesting idea. When I want something badly I wait only if I don’t have all the money. Otherwise I go grab it. I’m not a compulsive buyer, since I usually have a “must have” and a “nice to have” list. Yet, I might try your idea to see how it works for me. :)


Cynthia July 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm

And regarding the post: I like the idea of paying it down to a friend. It’s kind of like what latinos do with a “tanda” system. A group of friends (say 5 people) pay into a pool of money every week (usually $100-200) and then take turns getting the lump sum. It’s like a joint savings account. No one makes any more money than if they had just saved the money themselves for a month and then took it out, but it helps with discipline and community building. Also when you’re in, it’s hard to get out, so it encourages continuing habits of saving.


Julie the Jarhead October 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I saw a case on ‘The People’s Court’ that dealt with this very ‘system’.


Steve August 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Another simple rule – If the only way you can afford something is to put it on your credit card, then you can’t afford it.


Ludwig March 15, 2012 at 2:48 am

Sounds like a great common sense approach to saving. Now can we teach it to our wives/significant others? That is the real money saver!! Any ideas or proven methods?


kemet March 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I like the idea and I actually follow it. But nowadays with the return policies on big ticket items being 30-6o days depending on the time of year, one can buy say a stereo system and decide it was not worth the money and return it. Thereby spending the time without the money and with the item. I do that in addition to waiting. 30 days I think. Then 30 days I test. So far I have returned a BOSE 3-2-1 and kept an Apple iMac.


Brian King December 23, 2012 at 11:26 am

This system is not advisable for food.


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