Make the Bad Things Hard, and the Good Things Easy

I’m currently reading a book called Influencer. Among its many interesting ideas is the suggestion to make the behaviors you want to prevent hard, and to make the behaviors you want to encourage easy.

For example, if you want to spend less money, set things up so that it takes extra effort to spend money, but no effort at all to avoid spending money.

I can attest that the idea works well, because I’ve inadvertently done exactly that recently.

Lately I’ve been driving almost nowhere. As a result, my spending has dropped dramatically — simply because I haven’t been running out to buy things whenever the mood strikes me like I used to do.

I’ve been planning trips instead. Planning my trips takes more effort, so I make fewer of them. Fewer trips = less spending, and almost no spur of the moment purchases. You might think that I could just exercise some self-control if I wanted to spend less money, but exercising self-control is a whole lot harder than just avoiding the circumstances that lead to increased spending to begin with.

You could do the same type of thing in a variety of other money-related areas.

Want to send more money to savings or investments? Set up automatic transfers or direct deposits (many employers allow you to make direct deposits to more than one account).

Want to avoid using your credit cards? Cut them up. Want to stick to a budget? Try the envelope system. If you have to go to the bank and actually withdraw more money in order to spend more than you intended, chances are you’ll stick to your budget.

Have you had any experience with these methods? What did you make harder, and what did you make easier?


  • I know some people apply this same logic to dieting. Put the junk food somewhere that is hard to reach and you won’t eat as much. Either way, making it harder to spend or eat is a good thing.

    My youngest son is an impulsive little guy. If I go to Target, he runs to the car, thinking about the next thing he can buy, that he doesn’t need. I used to just go to Target when he was in school to avoid his spending. Now that it is summer, I am trying something new. When we go, I don’t let him buy anything, even though it is his own money. I let him look around, and if he finds something he wants (but I know he won’t use), I tell him I want him to think about it until next time we go to Target. If he still really wants it then, we can discuss it. It is my way of trying to reduce his impulsiveness. So far, he has not bought anything, the desire has faded by the next time we have gone shopping. We will see how long it lasts.

    • I really need to apply it eating junk food. I know that if I don’t buy ice cream, I won’t eat it, and if I do it’ll be gone in nothing flat, but I keep on buying it!

      Great idea on helping your son learn to control his impulses!

  • I automate all our savings but pay our credit card bills manually and enter each individual charge into our budget. That means that saving money is effortless and spending money (or in our case, recording what we spent on) is a pain…spend less and I have less to record, lol.

  • Another fairly simplistic idea is to work more. The more you work, the more money you make. The more you work, the less free time you have to spend money.

    Or, fill up your spare time with non-spending activities.