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Budgeting tricks (tongue in cheek)

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Are you feeling broke? This economy is tricky, so here are some tricks to help you save money.

 Artificial poverty is one way of keeping spending under control. This is accomplished by “hiding” money and pretending you don’t have it.  For expenses with fixed amounts like mortgages or car loans, just write the check for each new month the same day you send the check for the current month. Hold the new check until it’s actually due. Your checkbook will have a negative balance for most of the month which should remind you not to spend money— unless you allow yourself to remember the money is, as yet, not actually gone from your account.

I once tried to save money by a plan I called the 8-day week. I resolved to spend only one week’s income every 8 days. Under this plan, I deferred using a regular paycheck until one day after I received the first week’s pay, two days after the one I received the next week and so on.   Theoretically, after seven weeks, I would receive a paycheck I didn’t need at all and I could pop it in my savings account and start the plan again. Something always seemed to happen to the money along the way and I never succeeded in reaching the magic seventh week.  It seems that although I was using 8-day weeks, I was still stuck with the same 30-31 day months. Perhaps if your budget is not as close to the bone as mine you could make this work.

 I have sometimes targeted a bill with payments beyond what is owed in order to build up a surplus so that eventually I will have a credit balance and will not need to make a payment. This worked out fine for that account, but I never seemed to notice any “extra” money.  Since any sum is the total of its parts, over all I ended up paying the exact same amount I would have paid anyway.

 That plan also engenders a little guilt. As a bookkeeper I know how desirable it is for payments to match the amount due.  A computer will keep track of your credit balance but chances are the “improper” amount of the payment causes the posting clerk some consternation.

 One summer I saved money by adhering strictly to a “no new stuff” rule all summer long. I allowed myself to buy only consumables (like food or shampoo). No object that would take up room in the house was allowed. That summer my husband went on a spending spree.

 There’s one guaranteed way I can save myself from myself. I can stay out of stores. Of course, eventually a day comes when I have to enter a store to buy something I can no longer do without.  If you notice a spike in the economic indicators, feel free to assume it was one of those days.


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