Spending money after promising yourself you won't is an experience so universal it might as well be a rite of passage into adulthood. As any city-dweller or busy working mother can attest, the life cycle of a budget goes a little something like this: Spend money, feel guilty about spending money, create a budget, promise not to stray from said budget, buy a $15 salad for lunch instead, repeat.
Considering nearly everyone has failed to take their own financial advice at some point or another, how can we collectively decide to stop saying one thing and doing another? Carl Richards of the New York Times may have the answer—when it comes to money, at least. Richards recommends waiting for a full 72 hours before making a purchase, taking advantage of the little-known space between stimulus and response.
He cites Austrian author, neurologist, and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who once said that "between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response." Step one in harnessing the power of that space is knowing it exists. The second step is to perfect the art of the pause. "The advice to use cash or to lock up the credit cards can be useful here … it can also be as simple as training ourselves to notice the desire. How does it feel to want something?" writes Richards. "One way of creating space is the 72-hour rule."
Have you used the 72-hour rule before? Share your review below, and try out these personal finance apps to exercise even more self-control.
This post was originally published on August 9, 2016, and was updated by Sacha Strebe.