Can you save money with relative ease? Or does spending it usually win out? How hard is it for you to say no to temptation?
If you’re like most millennials, managing your money is one of the last things on your mind. You have enough going on with trying to establish a career, keeping your social life alive, and traveling to new places. You’re not viewing the world through a lens in which money matters.
That’s why most people find it difficult to save. They lack a reason because there’s no incentive; they don’t have anything to actually work toward.
You Have a Reason to Save, You Just Don’t Know It Yet
Generally speaking, you probably know saving money is important. That isn’t enough of a reason to actually do it, as evidenced by how much people struggle with it. You need a stronger “why” to fight off temptation and maintain focus.
So how do you get past that and create a “why” for yourself? Easy! Take five minutes to think about everything you currently want in life, and write it down.
Include short-term and long-term items. For example, maybe you need a vacation, maybe you want to save up for a wedding or a car, or maybe you’d like money for a new hobby.
Take whatever comes to mind and throw it on the list. Once you’re done, it’s time to prioritize. Review your list and put a mark next to anything for which you find yourself excited to save.
It can be difficult to choose but go with your gut and what’s realistic for your current situation. Take the items you placed a mark next to, and order them from most important to “least” important.
Reinforcing Your Reason to Save Money
You have a list of things you want to save for, but you’re not done yet. Saying you want to save for a trip to Jamaica or for grad school is great, but it might not be enough. You need to reinforce your reasoning so it sticks.
As I’m sure you’ve figured out, financial matters aren’t that simple, especially when you’re working with a long timeline. It’s hard to progress toward something that doesn’t have immediate and tangible rewards.
For that reason, take the final items from your list, and write down why you’re excited to save for them. Why do these goals mean so much to you? Envision what it’ll feel like to accomplish them.
For example, maybe you want to go overseas to experience a different culture, to have an amazing time with friends, to explore ancient cities and visit historical landmarks, and to foster a sense of independence.
Nail down the reason you gravitated toward those items in your list and write it down so you have it for reference later.
Testing the Strength of Your “Why”
Now that you’ve established compelling reasons to save money, it’s time to test their strength. Remember, the main point to finding a “why” for saving is to ward off temptation and to make saving more tangible and realistic.
Next time you’re faced with a decision to spend or save, try going back to your “why.” Do you want to spend $50 on a game, clothing, or night out at the bar? Or do you want to save the $50 for your trip? Which do you want more? Which is going to create lasting memories?
You can take reinforcement a step further and keep reminders of your savings goals around your living and workspace. Set the background of your phone and computer to something that reminds you of your goal. Change your passwords to relate to your goal. Get creative!
Taking action in this way will allow you to maintain focus on your savings, and soon enough, it won’t be a struggle for you. It’s all about your frame of reference, and having a “why” makes that frame much clearer.