Financial Resource Center

Saving & Investing

The Secret to Better Saving? Positive Vibes

by Tracy Curtis / February 22nd, 2018

We all know that saving money is good for us. It builds that nest egg that we can rely on to deal with life’s surprises. Unfortunately, saving isn’t easy for many people; it doesn’t give us that instantaneous high like spending does. To make it easier to save, make it a habit. Habits are easier to make when they make you feel good. So how do we get to that good feeling? First, decide why you want to save.  Have a specific goal.  Is it retirement in a warm climate, or something sooner, like a great vacation in Tokyo? Then figure out how much money you need for it.  With an amount in mind and a specific reward on the horizon, you’ll find it easier to take the steps that will enable you to reach your goal.

Another way to make saving easier is to regularly recall some happy memories.  Dr. Brad Klontz and his research team at Creighton University conducted a study that showed people who focused on happy memories saved more than people who were educated about the benefits of saving. The experimental group was asked to bring a sentimental object and given an exercise designed to stir positive memories.  The control group sat through a financial education presentation and learned about saving and saving strategies.  When researchers contacted the participants three weeks later, they learned that the experimental group had saved 67 percent more than they had before the study, while the control group only increased their saving by 22 percent. The researchers hypothesize that positive, emotionally charged memories helped the experimental group develop a deeper emotional incentive to save money.

Budgeting is important tool for financial wellness, but it feels like a chore for some people. To create a budget and maintain it, make your budgeting process enjoyable and adapt it to your strengths and learning styles.  For example, if you know you do better if a task is divided over time, automate saving and preselect dates to adjust your budget. If you learn best with visual cues, use charts or graphs.  If you are highly social, join a saving group or work with an accountability buddy.  There are strategies for auditory or physical learners and ways to gamify budgeting with built-in feedback, periodic rewards, and points.

Saving doesn’t have to feel challenging.  Use these methods to associate it with positive feelings and your savings accounts will grow.

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