This post is in collaboration with BetterHelp.
It can be hard to save money, especially if the autopilot on your decision-making process is set to ‘spend.’
There are ways you can override that autopilot, though. Here are some practical ways to trick yourself into spending less money and saving more.
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Practice the 72-Hour Rule
Those with a shopping habit may want to practice the 72-hour rule. When you see something you want to buy, you don’t purchase it right away.
Wait at least 72 hours. Most of the time, the urge to purchase will fade. You might even forget you wanted to purchase the item in the first place.
If this rule helps you, you’ll want to stay away from advertisements for flash sales. Don’t open the ‘Promotion’ portion of your email inbox unless you’re intentionally shopping for something you need and want to find a promo code.
If you just can’t stay out of the ‘Promotion’ tab, you may want to unsubscribe from email newsletters altogether.
Simply noticing your thought patterns can stop your spending cold in its tracks.
When you notice the urge to spend, stop yourself and ask yourself why you want to purchase. Be honest in your answer.
If the answer is,
I want to buy this because I need it, have been watching sales, and this is a good price. I can afford it and it would add value to my life.
Then by all means, purchase.
But most of the time, you may find that if you’re honest with yourself, the answer is something more along the lines of:
I want to buy this because I’m sad and the shopping high will help me feel temporarily better.
I want to purchase this because there’s money sitting in my account and I fundamentally feel that when I have money, I need to spend it because the event of having money is so rare and fleeting.
Financial goals feel too overwhelming. Because the future is so overwhelming and I don’t have a long-term plan, I look for every last immediate ‘win’ I can get in the present moment. Including the temporary shopping high I know this purchase will give me.
If you’ve got a lot of unpacking to do with your thought programming around money, it can be helpful for some to seek assistance from a therapist.
Some therapists may come from an orientation that believes plasticity and the ability to interrupt your own thoughts indicates that the mind is a separate entity from the body. This is called dualism.
Other therapists believe the mind and brain are one entity. This is called monism. Your therapist’s view on monism vs dualism may affect the therapy you receive, though Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common treatment in these situations.
Earmark Income Streams for Savings
Waiting on your stimulus check?
If you’re one of the lucky who doesn’t need the small boost to catch up on day-to-day needs, consider earmarking this extra money for your savings goals.
You can do this with all surprise ‘extra’ money.
If you have multiple income streams, you can use this same principle. Maybe all your day-to-day needs are covered by your nine-to-five job, while the money from your side hustle goes into your emergency fund or gets set aside for a ‘want’ like a vacation.
A great way to trick yourself into saving more cash is to not even give yourself the option. Let’s say you get paid on the 1st and 15th of every month. You could set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings on the 1st and 15th of every month.
By removing the mental labor of making a decision on payday, you’re giving yourself less opportunities to fall through on yourself.