Budgeting is tough, particularly when you’re trying to actually set some money aside for the future.
Like losing weight or battling any addiction, saving money resides in the realm of behaviour that sometimes seems immune to rational solutions, says one ex-banker turned blogger. But it’s often tough to get out of the gate without some help.
“My guess is that the best person to help you figure out how to save money is somebody who has suffered from living beyond their means in the past, and who has developed effective strategies for overcoming this problem,” he says.
But if that person isn’t readily available to you, you still need to figure out what’s holding you back. That means tricking that rational mind and helping it get with the programme, he suggests, including developing a better sense of just what’s going on upstairs.
Here are a few things to consider:
1. The Hawthorne effect: Just as scientists acknowledge that observing something inevitably alters it, the longer and more closely you begin to observe your spending patterns, the more likely you are to shift them in a more positive direction. That skew that frustrates scientists will nudge you to better choices.
2. Radical transparency: Everybody like a pat on the back but not when it comes to dealing with money troubles. Don’t flash the cash and pretend that everything is ok. If you can steer your mind away from keeping your spending patterns secret, you may be able to tap into positive peer pressure from partners or friends. This could boost your determination when it comes to making difficult money-saving decisions.
3. Out of sight, out of mind: If you don’t have money in your hand, or don’t spend a lot of time checking your bank balance, it’s much easier to forget that you ever had the money in the first place. Which, naturally, means you’re more likely to save rather than spend.
Each of these techniques operates on the subconscious in a way that doesn’t make perfect sense. But because that’s often where the problem lies in saving money so perhaps the solution resides there as well.
Do you find it tough to save? How have you managed to break those poor spending habits?