From Money Crashers:
If you're like many people, you've set one or more financial goals for yourself. You might be trying to stick to a personal budget, save more for retirement, pay off your credit card debt, build an emergency fund, or buy a house.
There's just one small problem: You want the reward, but don't want to do the work it takes to get there. So you procrastinate and continue to spend and charge and dig yourself deeper into debt. What you may need is a commitment device, a way to keep yourself accountable in reaching your goals.
"Commitment device" is a term coined by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt, the economists who authored the bestselling book Freakonomics and currently produce a popular blog and podcast of the same name. They define a commitment device as "a means with which to lock yourself into a course of action that you might not otherwise choose but that produces a desired result."
The earliest known example of a commitment device comes from The Odyssey. The hero of the tale, Odysseus, knows there is no way that he can resist the Sirens, the classic femme fatales who lure sailors to their doom. So he has himself lashed to his ship's mast, making it physically impossible to leap overboard and succumb to their temptation.
Though it's probably not a good idea to lash yourself to your recliner to keep from heading to the mall, you could try more modern ways to stay on track...
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