Author Topic: Best card or account for easy weekly budgeting "Guard Rails" to avoid overspndng  (Read 712 times)

J Boogie

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My wife and I are busy and many of our (aka my) attempts at budgeting have grown dusty as we are busy raising two kids and I work on many projects on our old house.

She can't be bothered to keep track of miscellaneous purchases and I can't be bothered to monitor her spending and be the no guy. She tends to frequently buy lots of little things, I tend to buy very expensive things a few times a year. Between the two of us we usually seem to tighter than we'd like. We don't fight about it but the "system" that we have in place definitely prioritizes the health of our marriage over mid term liquidity.

I am curious if anyone knows of any financial products/cards out there that simply won't allow a purchase once the weekly limit has been reached.

I applied for a simple account but got denied. No idea why. My wife is a green card holder (which seemed to be a problem for some denied simple account applicants) but I am a citizen so I don't think that would be the reason. Simple seemed like a good option because it allows you to set up different accounts and use a debit card without any overdraft fees AND wouldn't let the sale go through. Chime and SoFI don't seem to offer the guard rail I am seeking.

I've googled around but haven't found anything too promising. Any easy ideas for us? Not looking for a budgeting app, just guard rails. My wife isn't going to download YNAB or log into Mint more and I'm don't want try and persuade her.


ctuser1

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Do you have specific stores where you shop?

Perhaps specific $$ amount of GC every month at those stores?

You can even strategically maximize your rewards points in credit cards doing so. e.g. some cards will have drugstore 5% as sign on bonus - so you go to CVS/Walgreens to buy all the GCs. If the rewards bonus is at gas station - maybe you can find a gas station that sells these GCs and doesn't code it any differently from gas purchases.

The risk is fraud on GCs are much more difficult to address than CC. You can mitigate this by purchasing GC's from platforms like Raise/Cardpool (from personal experience, I have used both and have had occasional fraudulent usage at both; I can vouch that they are good with refunding fraudulent usage), and by staying on top of the GC balance every week.

I and DW tried this for a year or so, back in 2015/2016. We were spendthrift consumer-sucka's. Then we figured out that our spendthrift ways are more due to lifestyle choices, more than spending mechanics, and changed gears/approach.

Maybe that approach will work for you.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 04:36:53 PM by ctuser1 »

NotJen

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Cash envelopes.  Free and easy.  When the money is gone, it's gone.

And work on your willpower muscle.  Right now, you want to buy things more than you want to save.  No card will change that.

Morning Glory

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Business credit card with "employee" cards. Chase lets you set a spending limit for each authorized user. But I think it would be better to have a talk with your spouse and find out something that would motivate her to spend less.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2020, 05:09:27 PM by Aunt Petunia »

Sibley

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Cash. Just don't let the kids at it.

ctuser1

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On second thoughts, I will "third" the cash envelope suggestion from Sibley and NotJen.

Gift cards clearly did not work for us. The constraint felt very "artificial" when using gift cards. I think clearly seeing cash go out of the envelope will likely be a better "training" mechanism to help you adjust your lifestyle choices (because I think that is where any adjustment likely needs to be made).

We (DW and I) eventually got over our spendthrift ways. However, the initial step, of both of us acknowledging that we have big "problems" that needs to be solved, likely would have been shorter had we used the cash envelope. After we broke through that initial barrier, the physical constraints of the cash is no longer relevant. Now we optimize just because we like it.

J Boogie

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Business credit card with "employee" cards. Chase lets you set a spending limit for each authorized user. But I think it would be better to have a talk with your spouse and find out something that would motivate her to spend less.

Thanks for the suggestion!

After googling a bit I have found USbank offers customized alerts and the ability to have a set amount of autopay every friday along with the full balance payment once a month.

My plan is to have all small to medium miscellaneous spending occur via this one credit card that alerts us if we have a balance over 150, and then pay 150 on it every week.

My thinking here is that we will become immediately made aware when we are spending beyond our target amount so we can hit the brakes accordingly.

My wife is happy to take my lead and often asks if we're doing ok before making a slightly larger purchase, and I have a strong distaste for ambiguity. I'd like to outsource my role to an automated text service :)

I'll follow up in a few months to let you all know how it's been going.






J Boogie

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BTW, I appreciate the cash envelope suggestions, but you all overestimate our willingness and ability here :)

If it can be lost, it will be lost. If it can be found, our 4 year old will find it.

If we have to check, we won't know.

There was a minimalist podcast I heard where a guy was talking about how to achieve consistency in your habits and his best advice was to add friction to the habits you want to ditch and remove friction from the ones you want to increase.

He wanted to floss more, so he decided he needed to keep his floss picks on the counter instead of in the medicine cabinet. By removing one step he was able to go from occasional flossing to every night as he had the reminder and the cabinet-opening step removed from the process.

Not saying financial discipline isn't needed - we're not bad at denying ourselves, we are just looking for a simpler and easier way to gain visibility into specifically when we need to deny ourselves and when we can spend as desired.






Proud Foot

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I would also suggest the cash method although now, at least in my area, most places are not accepting cash unless you have exact change. This makes the cash method difficult.

I think you found a good method with the customize able alerts with your credit card. 

SailingOnASmallSailboat

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Keep your credit cards in a hard to access spot. Don't keep them on your person, or store the numbers in any online store account. If you need to go physically remove the card from a place then it's harder to use it - for both of you. There's the friction. Make it harder to access.

Laura33

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Why not just a separate bank account with a debit card?  Then you set up automatic transfers from one account to the other for the specified amount of money at the specified time.  Most larger banks will let you set up an account that is tied to your primary one.

That's what I pretty much did with my college-age DD.  I owe her some $ for groceries because she took a cheaper meal plan, and I told her I'd give her the difference for the groceries she's going to need.  I wanted her to be paying attention to how much things cost and what her different grocery options actually cost her to learn good habits, so I set up periodic transfers to her checking account.  That way, she can track or not, but if she decides to feast on prosciutto and brie and not track her spending,* she's the one who gets to deal with the natural consequence of that decision.

*She's not going to do this -- since moving out of the house, she has gone from total spendthrift to skinflint.  But she still needs to learn about menu planning and how much groceries should cost and all that, so this is just the next step in her education.

K_in_the_kitchen

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BTW, I appreciate the cash envelope suggestions, but you all overestimate our willingness and ability here :)

If it can be lost, it will be lost. If it can be found, our 4 year old will find it.

If we have to check, we won't know.

There was a minimalist podcast I heard where a guy was talking about how to achieve consistency in your habits and his best advice was to add friction to the habits you want to ditch and remove friction from the ones you want to increase.

He wanted to floss more, so he decided he needed to keep his floss picks on the counter instead of in the medicine cabinet. By removing one step he was able to go from occasional flossing to every night as he had the reminder and the cabinet-opening step removed from the process.

Not saying financial discipline isn't needed - we're not bad at denying ourselves, we are just looking for a simpler and easier way to gain visibility into specifically when we need to deny ourselves and when we can spend as desired.

The only way to gain visibility is to track your spending, period.  If you don't know what you are spending, where, and on what, you won't gain visibility and know -- "when we need to deny ourselves and when we can spend as desired".

I haven't been around much lately, so forgive me for not being aware of your situation.  If you have any debt other than a low interest mortgage, you need to deny yourselves -- your financial house is on fire.  If you don't have an emergency fund (or as we call it, an income replacement fund) equalling at least 3 months expenses (and preferably 6-12 months), you need to deny yourselves.  If you aren't saving a hefty amount of money each month for retirement, you should deny yourselves.  The rest of your financial house should be in order before you can spend as desired.

If you spend as desired (short term wants) without having systems in place to reach long term financial goals, you're unlikely to ever meet them.  Accountability is a tool, tracking is a tool -- they aren't buzz kills or hand cuffs.  They aren't impossible for people with creative minds or small children.  You need to know where the money is going.

The only other way to manage it is to give yourselves each a small, set monthly allowance, tucked into separate accounts with debit cards.  If it's in your budget as a bill, no other accountability will be necessary.  But you have to be bound by what you budget.  She can fritter hers away here and there, and you can save for the big things you like to purchase and blow it in big chunks.  You don't dip into the rest of the budget.

ctuser1

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The only way to gain visibility is to track your spending, period.  If you don't know what you are spending, where, and on what, you won't gain visibility and know -- "when we need to deny ourselves and when we can spend as desired".

+1

"Spendthrift" -> "reasonably frugal" is easy. Just stop going to eat out at $100/pop restaurants and stop other such fancy habits.

"reasonably frugal" -> "Mustachian" is harder, and tracking spending till you get habituated in that lifestyle is necessary.

e.g. we are reasonably frugal, but not Mustachian by any stretch of imagination. We still buy things that turn out to be not necessary. Our inventory management on groceries is not that great (I still sometimes throw out veggies that we could not use).

The issue is, you won't know where the problem areas are to focus on unless you spend the time to actually track.

I guess you can stop all that once you have adjusted your lifestyle to become as efficient as you want it to be. But till then, tracking is necessary if you want improvement.