Why is saving money so freaking hard? I have asked this question of myself so many times and I finally came to the conclusion that I must just be one of those people who can’t save money. It seems to come so easily for some, they just tuck it away and forget about it. Not for me. Any money I would get set aside would just get eaten up, by some emergency or some bill I forgot or something I just had to have.
Does this sound familiar to you?
I know I’m not alone and it turns out there are some significant biological reasons that saving money is so dang HARD. Phew! It’s not just me. So let’s take a look at some of the reasons that our biology is messing us up when it comes to saving money.
Herd mentality and saving money
In the earlier days of our species, we were pack animals. We stuck together because that is how we survived. We had to hunt/gather for the day’s food and didn’t necessarily have the option to save our food for later. This part of our biology is still present in our cells today. We haven’t evolved that much in the last several hundred years so the idea of not using what you got while you got it? Still foreign.
Because we biologically developed to only keep exactly what we needed for the moment. That same survival instinct that kept us going then is still genetically imprinted in us today. When we have more – we use more. We aren’t programmed to save it for later.
Saving money and longevity
Another reason that saving money today is WAY harder is that we are being asked to save a whole lot MORE than ever before. We are living a lot longer and so need to be able to provide income for ourselves for many more years than we used to.
Not too long ago the average life span didn’t go much past the retirement age. You didn’t always NEED to save up the often recommended $1 million to have in order to not be destitute as you age. Our life span has far outstripped our wage increases and the cost of living keeps rising too so even though we are earning more money in general, our bills are higher AND we are being asked to save more.
No wonder we are frustrated. It feels like a losing battle.
How learned helplessness also sabotages our efforts for saving money
As if those last few things weren’t enough there is also a little something in our brains that is termed “learned helplessness”. Every time we try and fail to complete a goal, our brain creates pathways and structures that reinforce the belief that we are not capable of accomplishing that goal. This is why it gets harder and harder to do something successfully after failing a few times. Our own brains try to convince us that (based on past experience) it is not going to work.
This learned helplessness response can be a challenge to overcome but it’s not impossible. We just need to change our approach. Trying the same thing, the same strategy but just trying harder is not the answer. We need to try something different in order to overcome that biological response that conditions us towards failure.
This change in our approach is how we eventually will overcome the biological urge to spend and not save. We have to reprogram our mind before we can reprogram out genome.
How to really be saving money…
You start small, you don’t give up and you use the momentum that your biology craves to keep you on the path to success. Stay tuned for more next week…