Is your desire to save money in a constant battle with your desire to want quality things and experiences?
A growing body of research shows resisting repeated temptations takes a mental toll on us. Experts liken willpower to a muscle that gets fatigued. The more willpower we use, the harder it becomes to rely on willpower.
This helps explain how we can live frugally 28 days a month. But, there’s a few days when spending gets out of control and we blow the entire month’s budget.
Then, we start all over the next month with the same intention to stop spending so much.
The fact that humans are wired with a limited supply of willpower will not change.
So, step # 1 isn’t relying on willpower.
Instead, we must reframe what saving money makes us feel.
- Saving Money = Deprivation
The ultimate ‘hack” to saving more money would be to feel that:
- Saving Money = Happiness
How To Make Saving Money = Happiness
We do things because we think they’ll make us happy.
When we spend money on anything, we’re doing so because we believe it increases our happiness.
When we get takeout after a long-day of work, and therefore exceed our food budget, the thought is by not having to cook, we’ll be more happy.
So, what we’re buying here is the feeling of happiness. And heck, it does feel great not to have to worry about dinner after a stressful day.
But, we can’t deny one fact.
Someone in the same scenario, can have the complete opposite emotion. For example, someone who saw cooking as a way to destress after a long day.
So, we can conclude that:
- Eating out ≠ Happiness
What Makes Us Happy?
Therein lies another problem. We’re not very good at identifying the expenses, or goals for that matter, which bring us happiness.
The joy of not having to cook a meal quickly fades. An experience psychologists call hedonic adaptation.
The promotion at work feels great but then life quickly fades back to normal, even with the higher income.
We’ve then set our sights on something else in pursuit of happiness. So, no lasting feeling of happiness, which is the goal, is achieved.
Developing A Framework For What Makes Us Happy
With willpower, it’s a fact that we have a limited supply. Trying to fight this is a bad idea.
As for discovering how to manage money for lasting happiness, that’s something that’s natural to us. After all, this is what we’re trying to accomplish as it is. We’re just haven’t given it much thought.
However, we can learn how to optimize our finances for happiness. When we’re successful is doing so, we swim downstream knowing that the more we learn the easier it gets.
Now, managing our money becomes like a game. e.g., how can we produce the most happiness at our current income level?
When you study happiness, what you will find is it becomes only natural to end wasteful spending.
You’ll stop having the desire to spend a lot in the first place.
By studying happiness, you’ll learn of the research that shows a correlation between savings and happiness.
This makes sense because saving money provides a sense of financial security, enabling you to live congruent with your values and beliefs. It’s this control to live on your own terms that’s a significant predictor of happiness.
As long as saving feels like deprivation, our financial situation and satisfaction in life, will not change.
As Shawn Achor pointed out in his Ted Talk, The Happy Secret to Better Work, we have the equation backwards. It’s not that you’ll be happy when you achieved a specific outcome. Instead, happiness allows you to achieve that outcome.
So, in your quest to save more money, start by understanding what makes you truly happy. In other words, study happiness.
Then, get into all the fun tips to lower your expenses