Visualization Techniques

1. Picture Your Finance Goals When You Open Your Wallet

You've probably heard of the “freeze your credit cards in ice” to save money.  If the "freeze" trick doesn’t work, try the "sleeve" trick.  Find a paper sleeve that came with an old gift card or one of those miniature coin envelopes. If you can't find one, create your own. On the front and back of your credit card sleeve, affix photos that give you motivation to save money. For example, if you're saving up for an exotic tropical honeymoon, attach a picture of a glass-bottomed bungalow in Tahiti.

Every time you pull your credit card out, you’ll be forced to look at your motivational pictures. Hopefully, your little craft project will refresh your memory as to why you are saving money and give you self-restraint.

2. Picture Yourself With Gray Hair and Wrinkles

According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Marketing Research, the reason people have trouble saving money for retirement is because they can't visualize themselves 30 years into the future. The authors of the study think it's worthwhile for you to spend a couple minutes picturing the person you will be 30 years before you make a major money decision. Try to visualize things like the European cruise you've dreamed of going on during retirement or the future grandchildren you want to spoil.

Written Techniques

3.  Create a "Junk I Don't Need" List

Every time you feel the need to buy a non-necessity, place the name and possibly a photo of that item on your "Junk I Don't Need" list. As time goes by, you'll realize how long your list is and how you’ve been fine without the items.

4.  Create an "I Already Have These Items" List

Are you a collector? Do you loving buying items such as books, vinyl albums, or boxed DVD sets? Maybe you buy five new books a week, despite having banker boxes full of unread books in your home. To help cut down on this wasteful spending tendency, write down a list of books you currently own but haven't read. Keep this list next to your computer, so the next time you have the urge to buy another book online, a quick look at this list should prevent the impulsive, unnecessary purchase.

5. Schedule Email Reminders Regarding Your Financial Goals

To stay on top of your financial goals, use the free tool from Nudgemail to send yourself periodic reminders about your goals. A little extra nudging can go a long way. To use Nudgemail, all you need to do is to send an email to nudge@nudgemail.com and set things up.

Barrier Techniques

6.  Leave Your Wallet in the Glove Box

My old office building was next to a Super Target. Every day on my lunch break, I would aimlessly wander the aisles. Inevitably, I ended up buying a bunch of junk I didn't need. If you're stopping in a store that tempts you to make impulsive purchases, lock your wallet in your car's glove compartment before you go in. It takes a lot of effort to go back and retrieve your wallet to make a purchase. That's usually enough to dissuade you from making the purchase.

7.  Set Up a Waiting Period Rule for Non-Essential Purchases

Try waiting one day for every $50 you intend to spend on a non-necessity. When the waiting period is over, it's likely that your impulse to buy will be curbed.  You'll realize that the item is really not all that important to you.

8.  Change Your Driving Route

Do you drive by places that tempt you to spend money on non-essential items? If you find that places on your daily commute are leading to a lot of impulse buying, utilize a different driving route that creates a passive barrier between you and the places that tempt you to spend.

Perspective Techniques

9.  Convert Purchases into Hours of Work

Convert purchases from dollar value into hours of work. For example, at first glance a $5.50 bucket of popcorn at the movie theatres doesn't seem like such a huge expense. However, if you're earning $8 an hour, then that $5.50 popcorn is equivalent to about 41 minutes of work. Is a bucket of popcorn really worth 41 minutes of work?

10.  Convert your Monthly Spending Limit into a Daily Spending Limit

Most people try to calculate a positive cash flow on a monthly basis. For example, deduct all your major expenses from your monthly take-home pay. Let's say you end up with $1,000 to spend for the month. If you're anything like me, then you end spending around $995, which makes money exceptionally tight toward the end of the month.

A good "mind trick" to mitigate this problem is to calculate positive cash flow on a daily basis. For me, this would be $1000/30 days = $33.33 per day. Even if I spend $32 a day, that adds up to $960 a month, $35 a month less than I was spending before. Having a small daily budget also acts an effective deterrent against frivolous purchases.

This has been a guest post by Lisa from Miami, FL
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10 Techniques that Promote Financial Wellness