“I wish I could save less! ” said no one ever. Everyone wants to save more, but when it comes right down to it? We’re pretty terrible at it. In fact, most people can’t come up with $400 to pay for an emergency, according to a Federal Reserve report on the economic well-being of U.S. households. With so many savings apps, budgeting tools and more, why is this area of our lives such an epic fail?
Here’s one answer: Your money mindset might be setting you up to fail at saving now and in the future. That’s right. If your money mindset isn’t healthy, you’ll likely struggle to save. I know, sounds like some pretty deep stuff here. But, you can change this with some super simple mindset shifts to help you save more money. Take a look:
Mindset hack #1: “A penny saved is a penny earned”
Saving money is the opposite of spending money. Instead of putting it toward something external, you’re keeping it in your hot little hands. While saving money can feel good — especially as you see your balances grow — it can also seem frustrating when you aren’t getting the momentum you want.
But, what if you invested a good portion of the money you saved? I’m currently reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and he mentions that one dollar today could be five dollars in the future. How? Through the power of investing. The premise: One dollar is not simply a dollar. It could be much more in the future if you invest wisely. And if you don’t, well, that dollar could be worthless.
Mindset hack #2: How many hours of my life is this costing me?
When you spend money on something, you’re probably looking at the price. If something costs $10 or $20, you probably think it’s not that bad. Maybe, it’s cheap!
But, what if you reframed all of your purchases and thought about them as hours worked. When I read Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, I learned this tip and it revolutionized the way I think about spending money.
Thinking of purchases as hours worked can be just the mindset shift you need to curb your spending. The results can be astonishing. For example, suddenly my lunches out weren’t cheap. They were the equivalent of 30 to 60 minutes of work. Also, when you realize you’d have to work a whole day or more to make a certain purchase, you start second-guessing if it’s really worth it. And, unless it will change your life and you’ll remember the purchase in six months, it’s probably not.
Time is your most valuable asset because you can’t make more of it. So, understanding how purchases can affect your time can be life-changing.
Mindset hack #3: Voting with your money
Money is a form of power and currency. Many of us spend freely without thinking of how our spending might affect others or how it might align with our values.
In reality, every time you spend money you are voting with your dollars. You may not realize it, but you are voting for or against something when you spend your money. For example, I used to always try to find the most affordable items wherever I went, especially when I was paying off debt. But now that I’m debt-free, I’m more conscious of my spending choices. As a small business owner, I’m aware that my money can help support a local economy or other small businesses. I’m also aware that I can support products, services, and businesses that align with my personal and political beliefs.
For example, I’d rather cut out unnecessary purchases so I can donate to women’s rights causes that are important to me. And, if I have to buy something, I go out of my way to shop local rather than at a chain store. In these ways, I “vote” with my dollars and am mindful of my purchases.
When you start thinking of money as a form of power to change your reality, you’ll think twice about spending it on just anything. Plus, when you spend consciously, you tend to save money too – a win-win in my book.
Mindset hack #4: Know your motivation
Let me tell you a secret: Money is pretty meaningless unless you know your motivation for wanting it. Sure, we all have to pay bills and we need to eat. But, really inspires and motivates you to save money? What’s your big “Why”?
To figure out your motivation, it’s first necessary to understand whether you are fear-based or rewards-based. In other words, are you motivated by fear of something bad happening if you spend too much or can’t manage to save? Or, are you excited about the rewards that might come if you save money?
For example, I’m 100 percent fear-based. I wish I wasn’t, but I use it to my advantage. I’m fearful of getting sick, or being unable to work, or not having enough to retire. This fear is what motivates me to save my money.
If you’re rewards-based, you can think of the security and opportunities that money can afford you. Want to go on that dream trip? Buy your first home? Or start your own business? Money can help you get there.
Whatever your motivation is, it’s important to tap into that. Why? Because saving money is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not something you do one day and then it’s done. It’s a habit that needs to be formed (and if you need a little help forming that habit, check out our Automatic Savings program).
Motivation can give you endurance and strength to keep going on your financial journey.
Using these four mindset hacks, you can slowly start to change your relationship with spending and saving. Shifting your mindset will also help shift your behavior and this can mean making better financial decisions.
More money in the bank doesn’t have to mean you’re suffering or scrimping today. It means you’re investing in tomorrow.