People give many different reasons for not being able to save money, and I’ve heard them all. Some people do have it harder than others, but I’ve also seen enough single moms work three jobs to change their family tree, and enough blue-collar dads retire as millionaires that I’m prone to believe most of us are better off than we think.
That might sound like tough love, and it is. I hate seeing the way this pandemic has affected the livelihoods of people all over this country. The habit of saving isn’t something we can do passively. In fact, you’ve got to be intentional and save like your life depends on it. You need an emergency fund that can cover three to six months’ worth of your basic expenses.
I’m a spender, so I get why saving is hard. On top of that, I have the “status” money tendency—which means I enjoy more expensive things. You can find out what your money tendencies are, and what they mean for your financial habits, in my free quiz. But I’ve found ways to make saving a habit in my life, because I see how crucial it is.
Here are three ways you can turn your urges to spend money into saving money:
1. Focus on your dreams
Dreams are crucial to your financial life, because they motivate you to save for the long haul. If you’re a spender, saving for the sake of saving isn’t meaningful. But when you really, truly want something, no one can stop you from saving for it and working hard to make it happen.
Focusing on something you want to spend money on later will help you say no to the momentary high of a new pair of shoes. The shoes will still be there once your emergency fund is in place.
2. Stop before you buy
There are two things I do before I make a purchase over $10. First, I think about it overnight. If I still genuinely want the item the next day, I’ll move on to my second decision-maker. I ask myself: Would I still want this if no one else ever saw it? For me, using these filters stops impulse purchases dead in their tracks. Plus, it’s a good way to check my heart before I buy more stuff.
3. Give yourself little rewards along the way
You’ll never stick with a new habit if you don’t give yourself little rewards along the way. If you’re working toward a $5,000 emergency fund, treat yourself to a nice dinner after each $1,500. If you value tangible things over a night out, spend a little on something you want once you reach the halfway point.
Rewarding yourself will keep you motivated, and scratch that spending itch. Just don’t go overboard. Keep your long-term dream at the forefront of your mind!