There are many things in life that we avoid, and in some ways procrastination is understandable when the task at hand is either not pleasurable or unrewarding.
Why is it, however, that there are many things that we know are good for us, but we avoid them as well? A perfect example is saving. We know we should do it, the benefits are obvious yet we often convince ourselves it’s not the right time, make excuses why change is not possible or simply give in to consumer temptation. On top of this, we can feel trapped by our own resistance to change and find ourselves worrying about our financial situation. The psychology behind a person’s reluctance to change can give us some clues about not only why we do this but more importantly how to start saving and stop worrying.
Make your goals and circumstances clear
The first step to making change is having an honest look at the situation and determining where improvements are required. Ask yourself what’s really worrying you. Are you stressed about an uncertain future? Are you using spending as a way of easing other troubles? Pinpoint your own personal battle and recognise the behaviours and thinking patterns that are holding you back. Do you doubt your ability to change? Are you in denial?
The worst enemy of change is habit. As they say, old habits die hard, so planning ahead is a must when trying to avoid situations where it is simply easier to fall back into old behaviours. Identify your spending triggers and set measures in place to ease their influence. Leaving change to good intention is a recipe for failure, so plan for the times when you may not be so motivated.
Give it time
All new behaviours take time to develop into habits. One factor that people are not fully prepared for when making changes is how unnatural it can feel in the early stages. Whenever you make a conscious change, it has to be just that – conscious. Make saving a priority in your thinking. Be aware of your behaviour and mentally acknowledge your successes, as well as the struggles. Over time, the new behaviours will become more natural, and before long you will wonder why we did things any other way.
A great way of becoming accountable to yourself is by becoming accountable to someone else. Having a friend or family member join you on your savings journey can not only be a great motivator, but also a good way of remaining honest with yourself about your progress. Having someone along for the ride can also mean a friendly shoulder to lean on when things get tough as well as a great source of advice. Remember, however, that only you are responsible for your saving – support is great, but the goals remain your own.
When we become engaged with financial matters, we can sometimes forget the value of other rewards. A great way of maintaining motivation is to reward yourself with non-monetary rewards when goals are reached. This not only makes you feel good about what you have achieved, it also reminds you that you don’t always have to spend in order to be satisfied.
For every struggle you think you can’t overcome or achievement you think you can’t reach, there are many people who have managed to do both. Find out what has worked for those around you – a fresh perspective can often mean a wealth of inspiration on how to start saving.