In two short months, you're probably going to give yourself a few New Year's resolutions. Maybe you'll try to lose the few pounds you gained over the holidays or promise to pay off your credit card bill, the one you used to pay for all those gifts. Whatever the case may be, sadly many New Year's resolutions end in failure. Some end in spectacular failure, others just fade away, but many of them come to an end because we are who we are.
[In Pictures: 12 Money Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes]
Fortunately there is a solution. Instead of relying on a resolution, why not give yourself a few "roadblocks?" These roadblocks can make it harder for you to do the things you've resolved to avoid, which in turn makes the resolution easier to follow. Here are a few fantastic financial roadblocks you can use to help you spend less next year.
Lock Up Your Cash
Open up a high-yield savings account at an online bank and stuff your cash into a certificate of deposit. By putting it into a CD, you force yourself to save that money for the maturity period of the CD. If it's locked up for a year, that's a year of savings you've "protected" from yourself. With many online banks you can open CDs with as little as $1 so you can squirrel away as many dollars as you want. Having an online bank account also means you won't have immediate access to your cash. To access your money, you'll have to transfer it out, which typically takes three to five business days. That's a long enough cooling off period for you to truly assess whether or not you want to make that purchase. An added bonus is that your money earns more interest than it probably would've earned in your regular bank account.
Freeze Your Credit Cards
As absurd as this sounds, you should wrap your cards in paper and freeze them into an ice block. If you really need to use your card, you'll have to wait for it to melt. How's that for a cooling off period before any purchase? This idea isn't particularly novel as people have been doing this for years as part of their debt busting process. The credit card will be fine, as long as you don't microwave it to melt it, and is 100% usable after it's been thawed. The key here is that you have to wait for it to thaw before using it, which is why you wrap it in paper so you can't read the numbers.
[Visit the U.S. News My Money blog for the best money advice from around the web.]
Don't Save Payment Details
Every e-commerce website in the world asks you whether or not you want to save your credit card information. This is so that when you want to buy something, you don't have to get up to retrieve your wallet or purse. Removing this extra steps helps generate thousands of additional sales for companies like Amazon.com and that's exactly why you shouldn't save payment information on a website. By forcing yourself to get up to retrieve your credit card, you've created a minor roadblock to your spending. If you've used the first tip and frozen your credit cards, it becomes even harder for you to spend on a whim because you have to wait for ice to melt!
Don't Carry A Lot of Cash
Finally, don't carry around a lot of cash. Ever talk to your friends and hear them complain about how cash just seems to fly out of their wallet or purse? For a lot of people, we have a tendency to spend it because we have it. If you're one of those people, don't carry around a lot of cash and you won't have this problem. I'm a little hesitant to recommend this to everyone because it's always important to have cash on hand for emergencies but it's also important to curb rampant spending! Do you use any financial roadblocks to help you behave?