It is time for a new phone. 

It is? I have not learned to use many of the features my current phone. This phone still works fine. I will have to spend time learning the features and operations of a new phone — that is time I could spend with my family or reading a good book or catching up on social media.

You mean if I get the new I-Phone 4S it will be free? No.

You mean I can get rid of my BlackBerry and stop having the cool kids laugh at me? Humm…. (Actually, the cool kids would still laugh at me; they would just have one fewer thing to point out when they laugh at me.)

So it is time to get a new telephone because the telephone company will provide a discount on an upgrade. But I am not ready for a new phone.

I see how it is difficult to stay within a budget. In fact, I am not particularly good at budgeting per se. I am cheap in some areas of my finances and generous in other areas without a strictly rational basis for the behaviors. Most of my good behaviors come from avoiding things that get me in trouble; for instance, I never look at whether I have a discount for a new phone until I think I need it. (Unfortunately, some family members look for me.) Another example from early in my adulthood, was putting more money in 401(k) plans than savings accounts because I tended to withdraw and spend the money in a savings account but I could not get to the 401(k) money.

How can you create obstacles to avoid your financial foibles? Perhaps you could avoid impulse purchases if you left your credit cards at home. Maybe you could substitute a walk in the woods for a walk at the mall. Maybe you could visit the library instead of the bookstore.

When I wanted to quit smoking, one of my techniques was to tell myself over and over that it was a vile and disgusting habit. After 20 years of smoking, I had to convince myself that not smoking was better than smoking. Maybe buying a new car every two years is a vile and disgusting habit for you. Maybe going into debt for your family vacation is your vile and disgusting habit. I succeeded in quitting smoking and I bet you can quit going into debt.

It may be that you want more positive approaches to encourage you to control your finances. Visualize your goal in exquisite detail and spend time in your mind’s eye living that goal. The goal may be starting a business or going to college or achieving financial independence. Think about exactly how things will be better once your goal is met. Explore a day in the life in detail so you can visualize it again and again for motivation. Go over the details each morning for a month to implant those ideas firmly in your mind.

Another way to control your finances is to reduce the amount of your fixed expenses. If your rent consumes 50% of your monthly income and you have an unexpected expense, it is hard to recover. If your rent is 20% of your monthly income and you have an unexpected expense, it is easier to get back on track. When you are making major changes to your lifestyle, think about how much you commit to your fixed expenses. (Generally, a guideline for rent or mortgage payments is 25% of your monthly income.)

I think I have managed to avoid learning a new phone for little while. My son lost his and we are going to use my upgrade to get him a new one.

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