How do you build the habit of saving money if you are a reluctant saver? Does that mean you are shit out of luck?
No, not at all!
For most of my life, I have never been good with money. People wouldn’t exactly label me as a spendthrift, but anyone who knows me in real life knows that the habit of saving money has not been my strong suit.
Life will not let you get away with poor money management. Not saving money will catch up with you and catch up with you fast. It will bite you in the ass when you least expect it.
Forcing yourself to become a frugal person is not going to work. You can draw from the habits of minimalism and frugalism (the ones that work for you), but the key is to build systems that force and trick you into saving.
Imagine yourself being two people—the child and the parent. Do you know when a child is crying for something they want, and you quickly divert their attention to something else, and they’re happy again? Saving money is similar to that.
So now you know that saving money is more like a game, then let the games begin, shall we.
1. Automate your Savings to Build the Habit of Saving Money
Most financial experts agree that automating your money is the only way to go. They tell you to automate everything from your savings to investments to your credit cards.
David Bach, the author of The Automatic Millionaire, believes that automating your finances is the most critical step in managing your finances. Ramit Sethi, the author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich (audible), says if you are spending more than an hour on your finances each week, you are spending way too much time on your money.
The idea is if you automate, you will automatically pay yourself first. Doing this will give you peace of mind that you’ve already put away for savings, instead of scouring for money last minute only to realize you’ve spent everything. You’ll eventually forget about the money that is going to your retirement account and savings account.
2. Do Saving Challenges and No Spend Days
My favorite strategy to build or break a habit is by doing challenges. If you are a reluctant saver, then turning the habit of saving into a game will get you excited, motivate you, and bring out your competitive side.
Doing challenges or no-spend days can help people who have commitment phobia.
Let me explain.
Setting out a 30-day challenge or doing no-spend days is less intimidating than thinking about not spending or saving forever. This is what it feels like for people when they initially think about changing a habit. Doing challenges has helped me with stubborn habits, from quitting cigarettes, drinking less alcohol, spending less money, eating healthier, and more.
I can’t recommend this strategy enough. I love challenges and highly recommend this to people who currently have low willpower. When you finish a challenge, you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that nourishes and strengthens your willpower muscle.
3. Hire a Money Coach to Build the Habit of Saving Money
I know what you are thinking. Gosh, I don’t even have any money; how can I afford to pay for a coach? I can understand why you would think this.
Most people think of hiring experts, such as personal trainers, psychotherapists, or life coaches, as a luxury. But I think this is the wrong mindset, especially regarding finances. Money plays a huge role in your life, and how you manage it significantly affects your well-being.
Chances are you’ve spent money on frivolous stuff before. I’m not judging; I’ve done it too. We all have. I’m trying to illustrate that you can’t put a dollar on a person who can help transform your life. You might have to spend a little money now, but the life-long change is invaluable. You have to eat the short-term loss to reap the long-term gain.
A personal finance coach will likely go over your spending habits and history, help you with a wealth mindset, and put you on a plan for a better future. They will keep you accountable, and since you are paying someone to help you, you won’t want to sabotage your efforts.
4. Implement a Savings Plan and Reward System
Sometimes people realize that they’ve struggled with money, not because they suck, but simply because they didn’t have a plan. Once they create a plan for themselves, they manage their money better.
YNAB (You Need a Budget) is a great resource and has a fantastic savings budgeting system. They believe that you need to assign every dollar a job. They have software for this, too but take a peek at how they allocate money.
Once you’ve implemented a plan, don’t forget to reward yourself at milestones. For instance, reward yourself after a month, each quarter, or a year. Whatever works for you. On a side note, don’t forget to pre-budget for your rewards as well! We all love positive reinforcements. It helps you feel a sense of accomplishment and boosts your morale.
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5. Separate Your Savings and Your Checking Account
Learning this was a game-changer for me. I’m am that kid when an adult tells you not to touch a stove because it’s hot. Guess what? I touch it. It’s just a part of my nature. So I understand the temptation to spend the money if you see it.
I added this one because I know some people, like me, don’t even realize this—open a savings account or money market account at a different bank. It works, out of sight, out of mind.
Now you know the key to saving money is to trick yourself into saving and setting up boundaries to force you to save.
Let’s recap on the five ways a reluctant saver like you can save money.
- Automate your savings
- Do saving money challenges or no spend days
- Hire a money coach
- Implement a savings plan and reward system
- Separate your savings and checking account
Choose one idea and act on it today or implement all five ways and see how your money grows. I hope you enjoyed the post and found it helpful. Good luck and have fun!
Books Recommended in This Article
I will Teach to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi