4 clever ways to control your spending -- and one that will shock you

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Clever Ways to Save Hundreds Each Month

If your spending is spiraling out of control, then it can be tempting to take extreme measures. After all, it will be worth it in the end, when you're debt free and living the high life — won't it?

And if you're thinking that the extreme end of cutting spending might be simply staying home on Friday nights, or dabbling in a little light couponing, then you're simply not using your imagination enough. Taking the lead from other fields of behavior modification, tools, techniques — and even apps — are all available to help you to go all out on zapping that spending.

Would you be tempted by any of these wacky approaches?

The Shocking Solution

Pavlok is a bracelet style device that delivers a mild electric shock when you take an action you have committed to quit. Read that again one more time. Yep — you can pay for a device to give you an electric shock every time you splurge online, splash the cash on coffee, or whatever else you're trying to quit.

The basic theory is to train your brain into associating bad habits with mild pain, and therefore remove the temptation in the long run. The device's makers claim great successes, from people who have quit sugar, stopped biting their nails, or even stopped smoking. There are training guides to help you use the tool, and one of the suggested habits it can be used for is, indeed, overspending.

Try a Fast

If you thought that the Pavlok was a bit cruel and unusual, then maybe a spending fast will work better for you. This is a method that many people have employed to either quit spending on non essentials entirely, for a defined period of time, or to stop themselves from making purchases without a "cooling off" period to think more about the decision.

If you're tempted by the total fast, the results can be dramatic — as this Wise Bread writer found, when she completed a year long spending fast to tackle mounting debt. But if a year sounds like too much, you could still make a difference with a month or even a week — and might find that simply taking the time to consider your purchases more carefully establishes new habits which contribute to your financial wellness in the long run!

For a slightly less dramatic way to curb your bad habits, think about freezing your credit cards in an ice block — an approach that forces a cooling off (or maybe warming up) period before you can make a purchase. (See also: 13 Creative Ways to Avoid Spending Money)

Don't miss these 20 unusual methods to make a quick buck:

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20 unusual ways to make quick money
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20 unusual ways to make quick money

Dog-sitting, babysitting, or house-sitting

These jobs are always in high demand, and the best part: you can name your price and create your own schedule! Post an ad on craigslist, or use your friends' and family's connections to get your name out there. 

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Rent out your space 

List your apartment on Airbnb or another rental site, and make some easy cash by staying at a friends and renting out your place for the weekend.

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Share your space

Just as you can rent out your full apartment or house, you can also post a free room (or even just your couch!) on sites like Craigslist or Airbnb. This way you can split your living expenses -- and maybe even make a new friend!

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Sell your body parts

Now here's a weird one: Donate your hair, breast milk, or even plasma for a profit. According to Grifols, if you're healthy and weigh above 110 pounds, you can earn up to $200 a month donating your plasma to life-saving medicine. 

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Sign up to participate in medical tests and clinical trials. 

Universities constantly need volunteers to test new medicines and treatments -- and because the pool of willing participants is limited, there is typically a large compensation for being a guinea pig. 

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Participate in a focus group

Companies and organizations will pay you to join a focus group. These can be conducted in person, online, or via phone. You will most likely be reimbursed in cash or gift cards -- plus, you often get to test out fun new products! 

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Take online surveys

Similar to focus groups, you can get paid to give your time and insights on an online questionairre. Plus, you can do this from the comfort of your couch. 

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Bank on your sperm

Although we don't necessarily recommend this option, there is a very high demand for healthy sperm donors. Keep in mind some of the obvious drawbacks, but sperm donation is non-invasive and highly compensated. 

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Crowdfund your dreams

Crowdfunding allows you to raise monetary contributions from a large group of people who want to support your venture. Post your project or idea on a crowdfund site, like GoFundMe.com, and see the cash pile up.

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Become a tutor

If you're qualified, post an ad online or on a community board to tutor children on their school courses or for the upcoming SATs.

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Get a part-time job

Capitalize your free time (on the weekends or after work hours) by working a part-time job. A bartender, waiter, or Uber driver are all great options for an additional source of income -- and great tips! 

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Resell tickets

Take this suggestion at your own risk: If you're staying within legal limits, buy tickets low and sell high as an effective way to source additional money. (Just make sure to check your state and local laws first!)

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Rentafriend.com

You can sell anything on the internet these days... including your companionship! Get paid to go on a platonic outing for a few hours and enjoy your afternoon with a new friend. 

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Rent out your parking spot

Make sure to check with your landlord first, but if you have the option to park your own car further away, lend or share your parking space or driveway for the hour, day, or even month! 

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Keep a coin jar 

This one takes patience before a big pay out, but keep a spare jar or drawer for loose change that you usually toss anyway. It will keep it all in one place -- and those quarters do add up! 

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Make something to sell 

If you have a knack for arts & crafts, create jewelry or other handmade gifts to sell on sites filled with other thrifty vendors like Etsy

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Sell items online

This effective strategy requires low effort with a high return. Post photos of your used or non-used items on sites like eBay or Craigslist, and let the bidding begin! 

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Have a yard sale

Sell clutter you've been meaning to get rid of right in your front yard. This simple tactic is convenient, and guarantees a wad of cash right to your pocket.  

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Return past purchases

This tip may seem obvious, but is often overlooked: Take your recently-purchased items that are laying around back to the store for either store credit or a full refund. 

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Recycle scrap metal and cans

Collect cans and scrap metal out your own garbage, basement, and street and bring to your local recycler to exchange your findings for money.  

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5:2 Your Finances

You may have heard of the 5:2 diet in which you eat normally (but reasonably healthy) on five days of the week, but have two days of fasting, during which you have an extremely limited calorie intake. Well, why not try the same with your finances?

It might sound a bit out there, because logically, cutting your spend for only a couple of days shouldn't have a massive impact on your overall spending. But psychologically, this can be a winner. If the barrier to saving is a fear of doing without, or you can't think of ways to restructure your life to cut out excesses that are hard wired into your routine, then the small adjustment of cutting back only a couple of days can be the trick you need to get moving.

For example, if you feel bad for depriving yourself of something on a fast day, you can simply tell yourself you can pick it up tomorrow instead. In reality, this forces thinking time, during which you may well reevaluate the purchase and decide to do without. Similarly, if you have some expenses that you simply cannot think of losing — like buying a work day lunch out, or taking taxi cabs to appointments — then doing so only a couple of days a week could show how easy these small adjustments actually are. After all, how hard is it to pack a sandwich a couple of mornings? If you force yourself to notice the savings as they add up, the net result might actually be behavior change with relatively limited pain.

Commitment Contracts

Back in the world of dieting, making a public commitment to lose weight, by joining a slimming club and going to weigh-ins on a weekly basis, has long been a popular strategy. It works because we are far more likely to follow through with something when we tell others that we are committed to it.

The act of making a public commitment works outside of the diet sphere, too — and thanks to new apps, you can leverage this power to get your spending back in order. You need to choose a platform that allows you to make a public commitment contract — usually with an agreed punishment if you fail to keep up your end of the bargain.

There are many different options out there, but one of the best established is StickK. Here you choose a goal and create a commitment contract. You set the stakes (the punishment), which could be a financial penalty, and choose a referee if you want an impartial verdict on your success. By sharing your goals with followers and friends, you can then get their support on the way as you work towards your goal.

One interesting thing with StickK is that your money is then given to a charity (or "anti-charity") if you forfeit it. So you can choose an organization you would be happy to donate to — or go the opposite and choose a cause (or sports fan club) that you do not like, to really up the odds. Would that be enough to motivate you to stick to your non-spending goals?

Just as juice fasts and boot camps have become popular to give fitness and diet lifestyle changes a kick start, taking some dramatic action to tackle your spending habit could be a good plan. It all hinges on building momentum — once you get moving, it is easier to keep moving, whether that is in shedding some excess pounds from your waistline, or squirreling a few dollars away in your bank. By hitting it hard for a short period at first, you can build momentum that can keep you moving, until the changes you are trying to establish slip into habit. And if the end result is healthy finances, then maybe a few electric shocks along the way are all worthwhile.

What do you think? Would you consider these extreme tactics to quit your excess spending habit? What's the most full-on approach you have ever heard about when it comes to cutting expenses?

Now check out the 8 best money-saving online shopping hacks:

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Money-saving online shopping hacks
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Money-saving online shopping hacks

1. Clear your browser history

Some retailers might sneakily increase prices based on your browsing patterns and demand - so make sure to always clear your history and cookies before shopping! 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

2. Use an alternate email address

When you log in to a retailer's site with a new email address, retailers will often welcome you as a new customer with exciting new promotions and discounts. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

3. Note price changes throughout the week

Another pro tip: Prices and deals can fluctuate based on the day of the week. For instance, if you're purchasing a flight, monitor prices for around a week to see if they take a dip on any particular day before purchasing. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

4. Let items linger in your cart

Here's a hack: Add items to your cart, but let them sit for 24 hours before purchasing. The retailer might attempt to lure you back with additional discounts.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

5. Check out multiple sites

Do some research! Don't settle for the first price you see - poke around on a search engine and find the best deal. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

6. Bargain with customer service

Use customer service to your advantage. If you ask (politely!) about an expired coupon, you'll often find yourself pleasantly surprised by an extension or new code! 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

7. Don't purchase impulsively

Try this shopping hack - don't buy that shiny, new toy right away. Step away for a few hours, and if you find yourself itching to go back and click 'purchase', then you know you won't regret your investment!

Photo credit: FogStock

8. Avoid shipping fees

Take advantage of free shipping! If you are a few dollars below the free shipping price point, add a low-cost filler item you need anyway (like socks!) and make the math work out in your favor. 

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