If saving money were easy we’d all be doing it. And frankly, about 50% of the Boomer population hasn’t saved much at all. If you wish you were saving more, you belong to a VERY BIG club of like-minded people. That doesn’t mean we should let ourselves off the hook – we do need to plan for the future. But here’s why it’s so very hard.
The Best Laid Plans….
Think of how often we visit our banker, talk to our investment advisor, or just sit down and assess our finances. Once a year? Once a month? Once a week if we’re really good? We touch our money every day through cash, credit, debit and phones, but we plan for our money much less.
When we speak with our banker or advisor, we rationally talk about our emergency cash, retirement, college savings, the business we want to build, and all that wonderful stuff. The plan sounds great on paper and we all nod together. Then we walk out into the real world.
In the real world, we are subjected to a barrage of advertising, 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Because we are human, we have insecurities, wants, desires, hopes, and dreams. And there is something out there to satisfy every single one of them! It’s unrealistic to assume we can constantly say no to temptation when we are tempted on TV, Internet, emails sales, billboards, transportation…. you name it. It’s everywhere!! And willpower doesn’t always work.
Do You Ever Feel Like the Rope in a Tug of War?
So here we are. The left hand of financial industry is telling us what we “should” do. The right hand of the financial
industry is telling us we can get more credit cards, or increase our limit, and get rewards for spending. Then the retail industry is tempting us to part with our money, and playing on every insecurity we might have. Our wallet is the prize between the tug of war. It feels like saving takes super human powers.
Saving money buys us freedom, independence, and choices. But don’t let anyone suggest that it’s simple or logical. So where do we start? Get rid of some basic temptations.
- Cancel a catalog once a day. I use the phrase “Please take my name off the catalog mailing list and do not share my name with any sister catalog in your company”.
- Unsubscribe to retail emails. Once you order something, you will likely have to unsubscribe again. It really helps simplify your email box too. The unsubscribe is usually at the very top or near the bottom under “Unsubscribe” or “Preferences”.
- When you fill your online shopping cart, walk away and leave it for 2 days. When you return, ask yourself if you still “need” these purchases. You’ll be amazed at what you do.
- Walk/drive home a different way. Do not go past your favorite stores.
- Do not go shopping when you’re feeling run down, or depleted. Have you ever noticed that you buy more food when you’re hungry while shopping? The same rule applies when spending on anything– willpower is at a low point and you’ll buy something you regret.
It’s amazing how uncluttered life becomes with fewer catalogs and emails. It’s almost Zen. And reducing temptation can give you a peaceful mind as well.
Related Article: Not Saving? Blame Retail Psychology
Does this mean you should never go shopping for fun again just to save money? Absolutely not. We all like to feel beautiful or special. To identify how mindful you are when you shop, ask yourself this: “How many pairs of shoes (or jeans, purses, cosmetics) did I buy last year, for what purpose, and did they change my life?”. If you’re like many people, you won’t even remember.
Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Behavioral Cents, LLC and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.
Carrie Rattle is Founder of Behavioral Cents and a 30-year veteran executive of financial services. Behavioral Cents helps women build money confidence, gain control of their finances, and feel comfortable making their money decisions. We work one on one in a private, non-judgmental atmosphere with a program tailored to the individual. We help women assess their financial situation and change their money behaviors for the better – without deprivation. Thoughts always welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.