Ok, so last week we discussed how biology can sabotage our best efforts to save money. If you missed that post, be sure to check it out. This week we’re digging deep into why saving money is hard even when you know what to do.
Saving money is hard – like a bad diet
Honestly, managing your money and dieting are a LOT alike.
Trying to lose weight involves expending more calories than you take in. But it’s more FUN to eat yummy things and not exercise.
Managing your money involves keeping more money IN and spending less – but it’s more FUN to spend on fun stuff and not save.
And usually, the harder we try, the more we fail because we are thinking about it so damn hard it becomes a weird obsession. So people look to others for advice. They hear advice like:
- Track your calories/foods | Track all your expenses
- Get rid of all the junk food at your house | Cut up your credit cards
- Eat all this pre-made food | Follow this system to find success
- Eliminate <insert evil food group of the month> | Just stop getting Starbucks
I think you get the idea. But really, if any of these things worked. We’d all be thin and rich by now. The honest truth is that losing weight and saving money is hard. And you need better strategies to make either thing really work for you than simply cutting back and depriving yourself.
Maybe we just need to make it easy
I’ve always thought that saving money is hard. I like to spend it. It’s my way of showing that I’m doing “ok” financially. I knew that needed to change though because I couldn’t really reach my goals if I didn’t figure out a system that worked for me.
The correlation to dieting didn’t come to me by accident. I find both dieting and strict budgeting guidelines unpalatable and impossible to follow – for me at least. I bet you feel the same. So I started thinking about the things that I love and why it’s so easy for me to be motivated to go for those goals.
When you really love something and want it to happen because it brings you joy, it doesn’t feel hard. Ok, that’s obvious, but how do we take saving money and make it something like that?
Start with what you love
Saving money is hard – but doing things we love is not. So it’s best to start by focusing first, not on what you “should” be saving for, but on saving for something you love.
Look, you need a win. You need to show yourself that you CAN save. So save for something that is freaking fun! I started with saving for vacations. I love taking trips but rarely had the funds until I made saving for them a priority. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just pick one thing that you would love to do and set a plan to save for it – and then savor the moment when you achieve it.
Whatever you choose to focus on first be sure it’s something you truly love – it could be gardening, tea, coffee, outdoor concerts – whatever you would put out some effort to save money for will work.
Saving money is hard – but it can get easier
The above advice is not going to solve all your problems – I know that. It’s just a tiny step but that is how all successful things start – with a tiny step. Saving money is hard but it is even harder to try and conquer all your blocks around it at once – so start small!
You don’t have to fully fund your retirement, emergency fund, and your kids’ college fund all at once. Slow down and start with what you can do successfully. Check out the Savings Success Guide when you’re ready for more – it’ll take you there in a jiffy.