Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Yet another way to psych yourself into saving

One reader's easy, effective tip for avoiding excess expenditures.

By Donna_Freedman Jan 8, 2010 12:50PM

Having trouble staying true to your spending plan?

Maybe your downfall is those online shopping specials. Maybe you keep going out with friends even though you've burned through your entertainment budget for the week, or the month. Maybe you regularly stop for takeout meals while leftovers shrivel in the fridge.

A regular reader of the Smart Spending message board who posts as "SC CDF" came up with a budgeting strategy that's both simple and brilliant:

Change your ATM/debit card password and/or the passwords of your online shopping accounts to something that reflects a long-term goal.

"I might think twice about buying shoes online if I have to type 'CU2012' (name of university and year my daughter will enter) at checkout," she writes. "I might purchase less from Amazon if my password (included) the airport abbreviations of the cities that I would like to visit."

I wish I'd thought of that. As it is, all I can do is stand back and admire her cleverness.

Want to retire in 10 years? Make your password "2020&OUTtaHeRE." Do you and your spouse hope to start a family? How about "U&Me&BABYmks3" as your sign-in? Owe $10,000 in credit card debt? Log in by typing "PayOFF10k&FrEe."

(Those words look weird, I know. But my editor pointed out that a strong password includes both capital and small letters and also symbols like $, % or &.)

Naturally, this won't work for everybody, especially for those who struggle with impulse spending or who haven't identified any major life goals. Behavior modification might help the former group.

As for the latter, well, why not start thinking about where you want to be in two, five or 10 years? Those years will flow by whether or not you have a plan, so it's time to start dreaming --  and making up a password to match that someday scenario. CUL8R.

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