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“No, you can’t have the carrots. They’re just for me.” What parent hasn’t resorted to seamy tactics when trying to squeeze an ounce of nutrition into a squirming toddler? The fact is, reverse psychology works on kids.

Will it work on Ms. Jones?

She didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly decide, “I think I’ll become a spendthrift!” No, this frugal lifestyle was forced upon her by many circumstances beyond her control. She’s used to getting her own way, impulse shopping her way through life. Now she’s feeling the credit crunch and is careful with her cash. Being a spendthrift was not her idea.

She doesn’t love it, but can you help her like it?

Try reverse psychology. Talk about smart choices, not desperation. Offer simplification over sophistication, back-to-basics instead of bank rates. Let her think it was her choice.

She just might eat her vegetables, too.

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