Many personal finance sites will give endless, though no less, great advice on how to save money. Whether it’s trimming your budget, opening a savings account, or beginning to invest money in stocks and bonds, if your read personal finance sites, chances are you know all there is to know about growing a nest egg. Still, even though we know exactly how to go about saving money, we don’t necessarily do it. The key, in my experience, has been to change my overall attitude toward money. Here are a few tips:
1. Understand that the future is not a distant mirage.
Recently, I read a fascinating article that outlined a study showing that native speakers of languages in which the future and present tense are explicitly differentiated tend to save less money for the future. The reason behind this phenomenon, researchers speculate, is that since the future is so starkly contrasted from the present, it seems almost unreal. While of course, this is merely a conjecture, it brings to light one the most important attitudes you must adopt in order to save money—you have to take the future seriously. If you conceive of the future as present that will happen to you all-too soon, then you’ll be more likely to understand the necessity of saving.
2. Reflect on past purchases that you thought were absolutely necessary.
This is one of the best ways to stop excessive spending in its track. Think about the last time you made a substantial purchase because you absolutely needed it. Now think about that purchase now. Did you really need it to live? How long did it bring enjoyment? Do you even use it now? Now that you have a new purchase you are considering, ask yourself the same questions. Is it absolutely necessary, and if not, will it bring you an enjoyment that seriously enhances your quality of life? If no to both, then think twice before spending. Use that money you would have spent on a frivolous purchase by putting it in the bank.
3. Consider what it is that motivates you to save or spend.
Those of use who spend money needlessly (i.e. most of us, most of the time) do so for various different reasons. Some are impulse shoppers, and some are not. Some will only buy items online, and some absolutely have to buy at least one thing when going for an innocent window-shopping experience. Consider what it is that motivates you to spend, and then find ways to alter this behavior. In the same way, consider what it is that has motivated you to save in the past, and try different ways to augment these behaviors.
4. What are your life goals and how does money play into them?
Although I am a big proponent of saving, I do so only because I understand that money helps me and my nearest and dearest achieve their goals and live the lives they desire from now until the day they die. Money in itself is not valuable, just as saving for the sake of saving is silly. In order to truly motivate yourself to save, you’ll have to constantly examine and reassess your goals in life—professional, personal, familial. When you have a clearer idea of what you want ultimately in life, then you can being to understand how you can use money to help get you there.
Subscribe in a reader