Making money is similar to getting into shape or making any big life change in that it must start with your psychology. Many people trying to build muscle and get into shape will presume that the most important considerations are their training programs, and perhaps their genetic tendency to build muscle. In reality though this isn’t the case – much more important is their attitude to working out and if they aren’t able to commit to a new program then they’re not going to be likely to get into shape. The same goes for saving money or living a more wealthy lifestyle – it’s less about the money you make or the money you spend, and more about your ability to save and budget and your commitment to that cause.
Unfortunately there are a lot of things working against us here and for many of us our brain just isn’t ‘wired’ for saving money. At the same time what also doesn’t help is the fact that so many marketing techniques are so astute at convincing us to buy things we don’t need – everything from the colour of the décor to the shape and size of the products and the precise price points are designed specifically to make us want to buy when we really shouldn’t. Combine this with habit and you have a deadly combination – it’s no wonder that we often find ourselves struggling financially.
Here then we will look at a few different techniques you can use in order to get your spending and your saving back under your control. Using these methods you can start to save cash instead of spending it and you can get things like impulsive buying under control. Read on to ‘think yourself richer’.
Buying on Impulse
One of the biggest problems that many of us have is buying on impulse. Here we will find ourselves overcome by an urge to buy some specific item and will then go ahead and buy it right there and then. Often this means buying things that we would perhaps have opted against given more time and thought.
Obviously part of the reason this happens is again that the set-up has been devised specifically to create this kind of result, so the trick is to use mental techniques to win back control. One such technique is to simply bide your time and to avoid making snap decisions. If you find something you get a sudden urge to purchase then, try walking around a bit first and coming back to it or alternatively coming back the next day and then deciding. This works well because you’ll find it gives you extra time to muse on the subject and to think about whether you really need whatever it is you are thinking about buying. If you find that you still want it an hour or two later then you can go ahead, but otherwise you know that it was just an impulse thing.
Often you will find that the reason you want to buy on impulse is that you want to use whatever the item is – and you’ll probably have images flash through your mind of playing that new game or reading that new book. To counter this, try thinking of all the things you currently own that you could use and look forward to that instead. Most of us have countless books we have yet to read, films we haven’t watched and games we haven’t finished. Likewise why not start a new project? Do some drawing or learn a new skill? There’s plenty to do!
Finally, another reason I find I often end up buying things I don’t need is that I’m worried they’ll be gone otherwise or that I’ll forget. Note though that temporary discounts are used for precisely that purpose – meaning that a new deal will be on in no time if you miss this one. Likewise though you may even find that just writing down the things you want into a notebook can give you peace of mind by reminding you to look for it later. This can almost release that psychic ‘tension’ in the same way that actually making the purchase can.
The Value of Money
Recognizing the value of money is something that can help you greatly to save. Many of us don’t mind losing small bits of cash because we think of it as irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. When you’ve got thousands in the bank, who cares if you lose a few dollars or pay a little more for a bottle of water?
In reality though this way of thinking is what will end up in your wasting much more money over time. Pay an extra dollar a day for the sake of convenience when buying your coffee before work and you’ve just lost $5 a week – or the price of a magazine. Take this $5 and times it by the number of weeks you work in a year – let’s say 40 – and you’ve just lost $200 a year or the price of a weekend break. If you then think about all the small bits of money you waste by not switching to the best electricity provider, by not topping up at the cheapest fuel station, or by eating out instead of eating in and it becomes apparent that we are wasting thousands a year on junk.
One way to get around this is to always ask yourself what else you could buy with the money. When looking to snack on an unnecessary chocolate bar ask yourself instead whether you’d rather skip a couple more and then buy yourself a good book.
One of the very best ways to ram home this value of money is to budget. By setting out a strict budget you can show yourself exactly how much money you need to save to be where you want to be financially and to afford the things you want to afford. Sticking to this becomes a whole new problem in itself, so to eliminate human weakness and error you can remove yourself entirely from the equation by setting up direct bank transfers to move the money from your current account to your savings account as soon as you get paid and to set a little more aside for ‘treats’. If you only buy games and drinks on nights out from this separate ‘personal reserve’ then you’ll find you’re much less likely to spend more that you permitted yourself to when you wrote the budget. This way it’s much more difficult to come up with any kind of excuse to overspend or to do it due to negligence or forgetfulness.
Materialism is responsible for many of us spending more than we can afford or making purchases and financial commitments that we shouldn’t. Many people find that they get a sense of worth or purpose from their belongings, or that it’s a way for them to measure their success. Others simply get happiness from filling their homes with large collections that will impress guests.
One way to overcome a materialistic nature is to try thinking of all the ways you can enjoy yourself without needing to spend any money and all the things you can enjoy doing for free. This might mean visiting museums, it might mean building things, it might mean hiking, it might mean trying attending a free class in something or it might mean learning a new art or craft on your own. Either way, having a lot to do and look forward too will leave you with less need to enjoy yourself by buying gadgets and things.
Another way to solve the problem is to train yourself to recognize that a few nice things can have a bigger impact than a room crammed with too many different items. If you have a huge collection of ornaments then they will fight for attention, be hard to clean, look cluttered and not really reflect anything about you. Reduce that clutter by 80% and suddenly you’ll have increased the average value on show making your decorating look much more premium, you’ll have picked things that better reflect sides of your personality, and each item will look more impressive for the space around it. Once you realise that small, well-chosen collections are preferable to large collections of everything you can get your hands on, it becomes much easier to turn down the option of buying something new for your home.
Finally you should consider using CBT or ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ to change the way you think about money and budgeting. Most of us fall into habits when it comes to the way we think and this results in faulty behaviour. For instance you might find yourself thinking things like ‘if I’m going to buy it at some point in the future I may as well just buy it now’ or ‘just another go on this slot machine and I’ll be sure to win big’. These kinds of negative ruminations then should be replaced with more positive statements that will result in better behaviour so try repeating phrases like ‘if I don’t save the money now, I never will’ or ‘I don’t really need more ‘stuff’ or ‘it will be just as useful in a month as it is now’. If you repeat these positive affirmations enough then they will become habitual and as a result you’ll find it more natural to save money rather than spending it.