In one episode of Til Debt Do Us Part, I met a pair of sisters who are having trouble dealing with their money. I gave the sisters wallets, which when opened said, “Do you have the money to pay for that?” or “You owe $$$$, you can’t afford that!”
The point of the experience was to keep bringing to mind the reality of their financial circumstances so that they couldn’t just Go Shopping mindlessly. Each time they opened up their wallets they were reminded of what they were doing relative to their current financial situation.
It’s easy to make one of these wallets. You find a wallet that folds and you buy one of those “talking” cards. Remove the “talking” device. Affix it to your wallet so that when you open it, you activate the recording. Now record a message to yourself that reminds you of why you can’t just spend money willy-nilly.
If that sounds too complicated, then consider making a credit card condom with a pertinent message. An envelope into which your card sits snugly, the credit card condom helps to protect you from going further into debt. The cover conveys something you want to remind yourself of:
- Do you have the money to pay this purchase off in full when the bill comes in?
- You already owe $2,500 on this card.
- Is this a Need or a Want?
The only way the credit card condom will work is if you come up with a message that makes you stop and think. You want a message that will remind you of your goals.
- You’re trying to save $3,400 for that fabulous vacation. Will buying this [whatever] get you closer to that goal?
- You’re setting up an emergency fund. You can spend this money now, or you can use it to meet your goals of having $500 in the bank! What’s it gonna be?
- You want to be debt free in 9 months? Is buying this going to help?
You can also make your credit card condom something you can use to track how you’re doing. Let’s say you decide you want to have $1,000 saved for an emergency by the end of the year. You would write your goal on your credit card cover. Then each time you chose not to spend money on the card, moving that money to your emergency fund instead, you can add it to your total on your credit card condom.
You can also make a debit dinger (Australian for condom) that you can slide your debit card into so that each time you pull it out to make a purchase you’re reminded of something that is more important than blowing bucks on bull!
It is important that however you choose to deliver your message to yourself, it’s something that works for you. If you need more of a reminder than words provide, created a credit card condom or a debit dinger with a picture of whatever it is you’re trying to achieve: a picture of a beautiful house if you’re saving a downpayment, a picture of a gorgeous beach if you’re setting aside money for a vacation, a picture of your son or daughter if you’re trying to build a school fund.
Know someone who is a shopaholic and can’t keep their sticky fingers out of their wallets? Consider creating a credit card condom or a debit dinger as a gift! Make up a mess of them and hand them out to friends and family. Make a game of deferring your spending by seeing how much you can Not Spend, recording your savings on your condom/dinger, and comparing your success at your next girls’ night out.