Some people are savers, while others are natural spenders. If you aren’t a saver, you know that you probably should be, but changing your habits isn’t always easy. Most of our tendencies are formed early on. Maybe you were a child who loved seeing your piggy bank get more and more full as you added your allowance, or maybe you were a child who had every dollar burning a hole in your pocket. However, with a little effort, even natural spenders can become better savers.
Find Your Motivation
Why are you saving money? Do you want to retire early? Is there a place in the world you’ve always wanted to visit? Are you saving for a down payment on a home? If saving your money doesn’t come naturally, it might be easier if you have something to save for. Oftentimes, people are spenders because they enjoy the feeling of having something new. Think about saving in the same way. As your account grows, think of what you will be able to do once your goal is met.
Reward Yourself for Mini Milestones
Similar to other goals, such as weight loss, if you only look to the final target you can easily lose your motivation at times. For example, if you’ve set a savings goal of $10,000 and are only saving $100 a month, it will take you over eight years to feel the satisfaction of meeting that goal. Setting up a series of small rewards for each mini milestone can help motivate you to keep going. For example, after your first $500, treat yourself with a small splurge. Obviously you’ll need to make sure that the splurges don’t negate the impact of what you’re saving, but being excited about a reward that feels achievable can motivate you to keep going.
Just like dieting, if you are too hard on yourself in the beginning and expect too much, you are likely to burn out. If you feel like you have to give up everything you enjoy for some far-off payoff, you could end up resenting the effort. Make sure to budget for a little extra each month so you can enjoy your hard earned money on small indulgences in addition to saving for something big.
Look for Easy Ways to Save Money
The easiest way to save money is to pay yourself first. Rather than only saving what is left over, take a percentage of your income and earmark it for savings. Create your budget based on what’s left. For most spenders who are trying to be savers, another key way to save money is simply to be more aware of what you’re spending.
You can’t spend what never makes it into your account. If you have a portion of your paycheck automatically deposited into a savings account, you don’t have the opportunity to spend it. Of course, the most effective way to keep yourself from spending it is to put it in an account that you can’t easily access. This may mean opening an account that isn’t connected to your checking, so you don’t have easy ATM access or the option to transfer funds digitally.
Make your credit card inaccessible. If you’re an impulse shopper, take your credit card out of your wallet and put it somewhere that takes effort to reach. Better yet, freeze your credit card in a cup of water. It’s still accessible, but harder to use. Waiting for it to melt may give you just enough time to consider whether or not the expense is worth it. Don’t save your payment information on websites. The time it takes for you to get up and grab your card might be the check and balance moment to determine if the item you’re about to buy is something you should spend your money on.
You can also plan to deposit any and all “bonus” money you receive (gifts, rebates, bonuses at work) and move them right into savings. It’s virtually money you didn’t have before and didn’t count on in your budget, so it’s like a free boost to your long term financial goals.
Focus on Your Goals
Once you have something you’re saving for, keep a reminder close at hand. Tape a picture of your dream home or dream destination on your fridge, or keep it in your wallet, or set it as your desktop background. When you’re out shopping, look at the picture and think about what you need vs. what you want to help you stop making unnecessary purchases.
Make Saving a Game.
For many habits that are tough to break, adding a “challenge” element can help change your mindset and keep you on the path to your goals. Take your grocery budget each week and see how under budget you can come in on after each shopping trip. Then try to beat that record.
Changing a habit can be hard. It may take some time to change your mindset, but once you get started and see your savings grow, you may enjoy the feeling of accomplishment just as much as you enjoyed splurging on things that you used to spend your money on. We can help you create attainable financial goals and provide you with the tools and resources you need to be successful. Contact us at Safe Money Partners to learn more.