Emotion vs. head knowledge and monthly spending

One thing that I’ve started to do in order to psych myself out–emotion, not head knowledge–of thinking I have a lot of money to spend is to subtract all our regular recurring bills from the checkbook at the beginning of each month. This renders the account ‘balance’ pretty low on paper, so that when I go to buy groceries, stop at Target, or go out to eat, I’m aware that I really don’t have all that much to spend. I do not add paychecks before they come in–those get added as they are deposited–because that’s not the point of this exercise.

I think this could work for others even if it resulted in a negative balance at the beginning of the month, because then you’d be aware of the hole that you’re in and need to climb out of. Seeing -$800 or whatever would be tough, and that would be a good strong reminder.

I’ll admit it kind of wreaks havoc with knowing the actual balance of your checking account if you don’t regularly check your account online, but I’ve found that the benefits far outweigh the inaccuracy. And, it will be accurate as the month goes on and the bills are paid. Another benefit is knowing how much you can shuffle to savings or debt, and it could also prevent overdrafts when bills come due.

Even if you’re not good at budgeting, or don’t want to budget (i.e. put a limit on categories of spending like groceries, entertainment, etc), at least knowing what bills come in regularly would be helpful.

Know of any other tricks to curb spending? Please comment!

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