4 weird ways to trick yourself into budgeting better

Raise your hand if you’re so bad at money, you’re willing to try witchcraft

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I have a question: Who decided, long ago, that budgeting needs to be boring and dry as hell?!

I’m a personal finance nerd, but even I get bored to tears when I see the budgeting templates some money experts dole out.

To be fair, these methods work for some people – don’t let me yuck your yum if you’re an Excel junkie.

But if budgeting that way has never worked for you, you are not alone. For so many of us, there’s nothing fun about your eyeballs drying out while you try to get those little white rectangles to Do The Maths.

budgeting tricks
Me after a nasty Excel fight, but in my dreams (Taichung, Taiwan)

Whether you’re a hardcore budget-sheet junkie or you haven’t looked at your bank account this millennium, I’ve figured out a few strange-but-true tricks for you to make managing your money slightly more interesting, and – should she say it? She’ll say it – fun.

Yes, I went there.

Try a few of these out and see if they kick some color into your money life. Here are my 4 best tricks for better budgeting – good luck!

budgeting tricks
I pretty much do “budgeting” the way I do “yoga” — however the hell I want (Hoi An, Vietnam)

1. Open at least 3 bank accounts

Most people look at me like I have some freaky banking fetish when I tell them I have 8 bank accounts. So far.

Why? Pure and simple organization. (Also, it kind of makes me feel like a Kardashian.)

If I keep my emergency savings separate from my rent money, and I keep all of that separate from my Go “Head, Buy Those Tequila Shots money?” Way, way less money stress for me.

Ask your bank to help you set up as many accounts as you like – for bill paying, for fun cash, for that Someday Vacay to St. Tropez savings – but ask questions: Some banks charge fees or do credit checks before opening new accounts. Don’t be afraid to leave your stanky bank for a new fee-free one.

budgeting tricks
Don’t have attachment issues with your bank. Like me. With this car. (Christchurch, New Zealand)

2. Nickname all those bank accounts

I like you, so I’mma ask you my go-to 12th date question: Wanna see what my bank accounts look like?

You ready?

budgeting tricks

That’s right: I nickname the hell out of my bank accounts.

This helps keep my money and my brain organized – and I just feel a legit relationship to my money knowing I christened each account myself. Ask your bank if they have a nicknaming feature.

Do you know the deep pleasure I get when I receive a text that says, “You’ve just made a withdrawal from your RATCHET ACCOUNT”? Or when I see customer service type, “Ms. Anat, will this check be deposited into your FUCK OFF FUND?”

The little anti-capitalist in me gets a chuckle out of it every time. Suddenly, banking is hilarious.

budgeting tricks
When the bank teller looks down at my accounts and then looks back up at me, I’m just like… (Hue, Vietnam)

3. Sharpie your cards

Since I use several bank accounts, an annoying thing happens – I get sent several debit cards. I had no idea how I’d tell them all apart until I thought, hold up. Can’t I just take a Sharpie to these bitches and label them myself? In the words of the polarizing poet, Kanye: Who gon’ stop me, haaahh?

So, I took a biggo’ black marker and clearly labeled each card with the name of the corresponding account. These labels serve as a disciplinary tool: Seeing “BILLS ONLY” all huge on my bills-only debit card definitely stops me from spending my rent money on tequila.

On the flip side, pulling out my “RATCHET YASSS” card is an amazing conversation starter with strangers.

This goes for credit cards, too.

If you have an emergencies-only card, it’s less likely that you’ll throw it down for margs if a big ol’ “EMERGENCIES ONLY, BISH” is screaming at you in Sharpie. You can also leave problematic, temptation-danger cards at home. Done.

budgeting tricks
Trying to enjoy your life but credit card debt be on your mind like… (Taroko Gorge, Taiwan)

4. Embrace the cash envelope system

This is a whole way of life, y’all. The cash envelope system means you cash out your entire paycheck into small bills. Then, you manually organize your cash into labeled envelopes for everything on your budget.


That means if you only want to let yourself spend $50 on Friend Dinners this week, you stick $50 actual dollars in an envelope labeled “Friend Dinners” – and if that cash runs out, then tough shit, it runs out. If you’ve budgeted $80 for groceries, you take your “Groceries” envelope to the store with $80 real dollars in it and stretch that money like ya momma gave you food allowance.

Handling your cash makes money feel so painfully real, as opposed to the make-believe money feeling that debit and credit cards give us. If you know you’ll benefit from this kind of discipline, getcha butt to an Office Depot and envelope yo’ life.

What other sneaky money tricks do you know? What works for you? Share!

budgeting tricks

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19 Comments on “4 weird ways to trick yourself into budgeting better

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  1. YES, JACQUELYN. I also feel like a crazy bag lady whenever I log onto my bank account, but that feeling of organization (or “boom”, as you so accurately put it) is so, so worth it. ??

  2. LOVE this! When I decided to open multiple accounts I felt crazy at first, but I agree it makes things soooo much easier. I just transfer the money and then boom, it’s not going to be spent ? I like to have cash for spending money too, because then I know how much I have left ?‍♀️ I’ll have to try just putting it all in envelopes though. Thanks for the tips!! Cheers x

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