The Simple Number Trick That Helped Me Save Money

The only thing you have to change is your mind.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I used to have a hard time saving money. I would look at my account, and if I didn’t have at least $50 extra to put away, I wouldn’t bother saving anything at all. It took me a while to realize how much I was losing out on because of what I’ve called the Five-Zero Obsession, and I’m not the only one.

Our society places a lot of value on certain numbers, and the overwhelming majority of them end in 5 or 0. When I stopped to think about it, I saw how unnecessarily limiting that is, and more importantly, how it’s been hurting my relationship to money. Since overcoming my Five-Zero Obsession, I’ve been able to save a lot more.

Here are my tips for how to get over these overblown digits:

Change your alarm.

Maybe one alarm is enough for you, or maybe you hit snooze four times. Either way, chances are you (like most people) try to get up at a time that ends in :00 or :30. But why? There’s nothing special about the exact hour or half hour, apart from how common it is for us to set our morning routines to them.

If your alarm is set to go off at 7:30, try changing it to 7:24 or 7:33 or whatever combination of numbers looks good to you.

Jumble up your schedule.

Here’s a fun exercise: If you keep a daily agenda or appointment book, try using all the digits at least once when planning out your day.

08:09 am— Breakfast

11:24am — Meeting

01:37pm — Lunch

05:56 pm— Run

This is where you will really start to see a change in your thinking. It can be hard to shift the mental weight we place on the Five-Zero Obsession, but if you can shift your schedule you’ll have no problem shifting your financial mindset.

[Note: I would NOT advise attempting to get other people to adhere to these unconventional timeframes though. If someone makes plans with you to do something at 2:30, just mark it down on your own calendar as 2:27 or something.]

Incorporate it into your workout.

Exercising is a really good opportunity to retrain your brain around numbers because almost everything we do when we workout is based around repetitions or time.

Do your reps and sets tend to be divisible by five as well? Switch it up. Try 4 sets of 11 instead of 3 sets of 15. Do 26 minutes on the elliptical instead of 30. There’s no science behind why a five-minute warmup has to be exactly five minutes. Focus on ideas like short vs long instead of specific timeframes.

After the first two weeks, it becomes really easy to see how arbitrary numbers often are. And it becomes really clear that five and zero are not the super special numbers we tend to treat them as. At that point, saving $42 even though it’s not an even $50 becomes a no-brainer.



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