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I want to start being more sensible with my money, this is especially hard around payday when I receive a month's-worth of pay at once.

It's all too easy to go for a couple beers after work only to end up staying out all night and being over £100 worse off the next day.

I tend to leave my debit card at home these days, and withdraw cash once per week. But from my experience this is only about 95% foolproof... sometimes I'll just end up risking taking my card out with me for convenience (and regret it).

Another idea is to set up an additional bank account and get all my wages paid into that, and set up a weekly payment into my personal account which I can then live off each week... but there's that risk of me simply logging on to my online banking and transferring extra cash over if I cave in.

Is there any kind of foolproof way to get around this? It must have been so much easier to save money a couple decades ago when your money wasn't so easily accessible.

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    Have you considered that maybe wealth is not for you? Sorry to be harsh, but... It sounds like you have money habits that are very deeply ingrained, possibly from birth. (were your parents non-savers, that's the #1 source of financial habits). It isn't destiny, but damn, it feels like that. Unless you are really thinking about it, and committed, and get financially educated... You're gonna just do what you do. – Harper Sep 2 '17 at 15:15
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    If you are spending your money on alcohol and regretting it the next the day, this may not be just a financial management issue. – TTT Sep 2 '17 at 16:24
  • I believe this is a personal problem that no advice here can help fix. You need to learn money management... – NuWin Sep 5 '17 at 3:06
  • It might be helpful to seek advice from a therapist on willpower and self control. – Rich Sep 5 '17 at 15:54
  • Or just choose not to go out for "a couple of beers", since it seems you are well aware of the likely consequences. – jamesqf Sep 5 '17 at 17:15
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As others have pointed out, it sounds like the problem isn't the accessibility of your money, the problem is willpower. So, address that instead. How?

Willpower is both a finite resource AND a resource that can be increased -- like muscle strength.

Since willpower is finite, break down the problem into as many pieces as possible, then address only one of those pieces at a time. "Be more sensible with my money" is nebulous, vague, and large; there's no place to start.

So break it apart: first thing is the one example in your question -- you go out on payday with friends/coworkers, intending to only buy a couple of beers (alcohol lowers willpower), and end up blowing through far more. So, what about making a rule to not go out on payday?

Nice idea, but that might still be too hard to do -- if you have a habit of going out with them on payday, then this has become your community, and you will feel the loneliness of not going out with them, as well as the social pressure from them to do as you've always done. So, set up a different habit for that night, one that both involves the obligation of going there instead, and other people who will expect you to be there. Some examples would be a sport that happens to practice or compete on payday nights, or some charity that happens to need you at that time.

Once you've broken that habit (and exulted in the resulting fattening of your wallet), look for other, similar leaks. I'm going to guess that all your money gets spent on going out to pubs (as opposed, say, to buying bric-a-brac you don't need). If so, then you need to face that you've adopted a pub-going culture, and that your community has shrunk to just those kind of people. It may seem like you have a lot of people in your life, but if all it takes to lose connection to all of them is to stop going to pubs, then you really don't. Your human connections, essential for an enjoyable life, are too fragile, too singly focused.

So if that's the problem, branch out. Diversify the communities you're part of. I've already mentioned sport; church is another good one -- I mean a living church, the kind where the people are always doing stuff together and it's fun to go to, not the other kind where everyone sits in a pew for an hour a week and rushes the exits as soon as possible. Other possibilities are reaching out to neighbors or becoming politically involved.

Hmmm... I started writing about willpower but I'm ending up at community. At your core, do you feel like if you didn't spend this way, that you wouldn't have any friends?

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but there's that risk of me simply logging on to my online banking and transferring extra cash over if I cave in.

Yep, there's no reasonable substitute for self-control. You could pay someone else to manage your money and dole out an allowance for your discretionary spending, but that's not reasonable for most people. Your money will be accessible to you, you don't need it inaccessible, you need to change the way you think about your available money.

Many people struggle with turning a corner when it comes to saving, a tool that helps many is a proper budget. Plan ahead how all of your money will be used, including entertainment. If you want to spend £200/month on entertainment, then plan for it in a budget, and track your spending to help keep within that budget. It's a discipline thing, but a budget makes it easier to be disciplined, having a defined plan makes it easier to say "I can't" rather than "I shouldn't, but... okay!"

There are many budgeting tools, just pick one that has you planning how all your money is spent, you want to be proactive and plan for saving, not hoping you have some leftover at the end of the month. Here's a good article on How and Why to Use a Zero-Sum Budget.

Some people have envelopes of cash for various budget items, and that can be helpful if you struggle to stick to your budget, once the entertainment envelope is empty, you can't spend on entertainment until next month, but it won't stop you from blowing the budget by just getting more cash, as you mentioned.

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Here's an unconventional approach:

  1. Set up an online savings account with a new bank
  2. Set up an automatic monthly transfer to that account
  3. Burn and forget the login credentials for that account

If you really need the money you can always call the bank or go to one of their branches and get new login credentials after some kind of formal process like proving that you are in fact the account holder. Since it will be a hassle to get the credentials you will not do it if it's not necessary.

In germany the banks all use transaction authentication numbers (TAN) that you need to authorize a transfer. If there is such a thing in UK you can just throw the TAN list away. This way you can still check your savings balance but you cannot transfer the money without requesting a new TAN list which takes time and effort.

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1) It sounds like you don't have a credit card, good. Take our ATM card and freeze it in a block of ice. Leave it in the freezer.

2) Get on a budget. A budget is a plan to spend your money. The best plans are those that are made ahead of time. For the record, budgeting is a skill and you will probably be bad at it for the first few times.

3) Withdraw cash from the bank account that you will need for the week. Once that money is gone, you are done spending until the next week. If you are still having trouble with this do it daily. Let's say you budget 300 for the month's spending. Go to the bank, take out 10 each day. You can carry money over from day-to-day, but never take out more. You can never spend more than you have because your ATM is in ice.

4) Find a friend who is good with money. Ask them to help you by giving guidance and oversight.

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    Here in the UK, you normally use your debit card/ATM card to make withdrawals at the counter in the bank. It's done through a similar chip and PIN system to paying for goods in a shop. You can withdraw money in an emergency without the card if you have the right ID but it would be unusual to do this on a regular basis. Some older accounts might still have passbooks and no debit card/ATM card though – barrowc Sep 6 '17 at 2:06

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