Have you ever heard of the “stranger test?”
It has nothing to do with unmarked vans and everything to do with keeping your money in your pocket.
Here’s what you do: When you’re about to make a purchase, however big or small, picture a stranger holding your purchase in one hand and the cash it would take to buy it in the other. Which offering would you take?
If you’d pick the cash, you might as well keep that money in your pocket.
While this isn’t a brand-new trick (Five Cent Nickel wrote about it in 2009), Zee from Work to Not Work recently highlighted the strategy in his post about how he uses the concept of mindfulness, which he describes as “focusing your attention and awareness to whatever is taking place,” to manage his budget and save more money.
Zee also points out that it’s important for the imagined figure in this test to be a stranger. If it’s a friend, he could sway you one way or the other.