The Gatekeeper Habit

By Melissa Tosetti

There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty in our society right now.  That uncertainty can easily spiral into fear due to our inability to control so much of our environment.  Fear can trigger us into negative decisions.

A gift you can give yourself right now is to shift your focus to what you can control, starting with your spending.

We’re a society that has quickly become used to getting anything we need by clicking “buy”.  We decompress by shopping online, getting a tiny hit of dopamine with each purchase.  For many of us, it’s become a habit.  A way to cope.

Even if you’re still working or will be going back to work in a few weeks, this time of uncertainty is an opportunity to adopt the Gatekeeper Habit.

What is a gatekeeper?  You can think of a gatekeeper as a version of yourself that will ask you three questions before making any out of the ordinary purchase.  Those questions are:

  1. Do I really need this?
  2. Am I madly in love with it?

The questions above are straightforward and easy to answer.  But, there’s a third question that involves a level of creativity that can take some training.

  1. Do I already have a version of the item or can I use something else instead?

We’re so used to just – buying. It doesn’t dawn on us to check the cupboard or closet to see if we already have that item or if there’s something else we can use in its place.  In other words, most of us don’t have a habit around using what we already own.  Now is the time to create and strengthen that habit.

To get started, consider placing some type of reminder near where you typically make your purchases.  You could put a picture of a gate next to your monitor.  An adhesive note with the word “Gatekeeper” or “Ask” on your debit or credit card can also work.  It may sound silly, but you need a reminder to ask yourself those three questions until the habit has solidified.

It’s critical to look at the Gatekeeper Habit from the perspective of being purposeful.  It isn’t about being afraid to spend.  It’s about being mindful, spending with purpose and utilizing your resources.


Melissa Tosetti is the founder of The Savvy Life and author of the international bestseller Living The Savvy Life. For the past eight years, she’s worked with over 600 individuals and families to create Spending Plans. Melissa also works with financial advisors and their clients doing cash flow planning as well as giving over 200 Savvy Living presentations via webinar and in-person to audiences across the U.S.

If you’d like to learn more about how Melissa works with clients visit The Savvy Life’s Services page.

If you’d like to learn more about how Melissa works with financial advisors and their clients visit: The Savvy Life Advisor’s Page