The easiest way to save money? Don't go in!

Caught yourself in the magazine aisle yet again? Bought one too many coffees this week? Hamm shares this simple rule to help you save: Resist the temptation to go into the store in the first place. 

David Duprey/AP Photo/File
A clerk poses for a photo showing cash in the register at Vidler's 5 & 10 store in East Aurora, N.Y. Looking to save money? Resisting the temptation to go into a store is easier than resisting the temptation to buy something, Hamm explains.

The other day, I stopped at a gas station with my children in tow.

Ordinarily, this would be a simple visit – I’d gas up, pay at the pump, jump back in, and we’d be on the road again.

That day, though, my youngest one announced very loudly that he had to go to the potty now

He’s three. Potty training is complete, but he can still have an occasional accident if he’s put in a position where he has to hold it for very long.

So, when he made that big announcement, it became clear that we had to go inside. I’m not going to leave my other children in the car alone, so we all went inside.

Once the bathroom business was taken care of, we walked back through the convenience store. Naturally, the bathrooms are on the far end of it, so we walked back by the beverage coolers.

Immediately, my children were thirsty. They were incredibly thirsty. Based on their comments, they had just spent several days in the Sahara desert.

They wouldn’t have said a thing if we were on the road. The sight of the beverages convince them that they were thirsty.

Of course, some delicious-looking snacks convince them that they were hungry, too, but I managed to push that desire off by mentioning that there was food already in the car.

Still, I wound up buying a small beverage for each of them and a large cup of water for myself (as that was the cheapest way to get water, via a large fountain drink).

The bill was still $5.50.

Now, I don’t mind the high price of a convenience store. The place has to make money, after all.

What I do mind is that I had to go into the store at all.

If I had never walked into that gas station, I never would have spent that $5.50. I should have just gassed up and headed to a rest stop that was about five miles further down the interstate which had clean bathrooms and a vending machine that I wouldn’t have had the cash to use.

Every time I needlessly spend money, it’s because I went into a store in the first place.

I can’t spend money needlessly on books if I don’t go into a book store.

I can’t spend money needlessly on electronics if I don’t go into an electronics store.

I can’t spend money needlessly on coffee if I don’t go into a coffee shop.

If I want less incidental spending in my life, the best way to do it is to avoid places where I’m going to be spending money incidentally.

The only stores that I should be ducking my head into are the ones where I have a specific need to go there, with a list already in hand that I can stick to.

Aside from that, I just don’t go in.

It’s a simple rule. The kind I like best.

The post Don’t Go In! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.