It’s the classic war between the “rational” (boring) part of your brain telling you what you should do and the primitive (fun) part of your brain telling you want you already know you want to do. That part of your brain is hardwired for immediate gratification — because, hey, why save when you could be dead tomorrow?
So, forget about “making” yourself save — that won’t work anymore than when you’re on a diet and ”making” yourself ignore the cookies in your cupboard and go for the carrots instead . No, you have to distract and trick the “immediate gratification” part of yourself so you can actually get something set aside for a rainy day.
Here’s 4 little sure-fire tricks, which I’m sure you’ve heard before but — they bear repeating because they work
Don’t Think About It. Put your savings on autopilot. If you have automatic deposit set up, set up an automatic withdrawal of, say, 10%, into a savings account. This will work even if you don’t have automatic deposit: just set up an automatic withdrawal from your bank into a special savings account on a certain day each month. Check out MoneyRates.com or BankRate.com to see which banks have the best savings accounts for interest and fees. You can further motivate yourself to save by seeing how much your savings will grow over time if you keep at it.
Bribe Yourself (also called the “dangle a carrot” tactic). Here you set a savings goal, say $1000, and then pick a reward (one that doesn’t cost $1000) to give yourself when you reach your goal.
Raise The Stakes. Impose a penalty on yourself if you don’t meet a certain savings goal. Try creating a “commitment contract” on Stickk.com. You can even make the commitment to a friend or family member. If you don’t meet your goal, you give something up, e.g., time or money, to the other person. This is effective because you have embarrassment, punishment and social pressure all working in your favor!
Downgrade Yourself. If it’s good enough for the good old U.S. of A, it’s good enough for you. For example, what ever you want to buy right now, note its price, find a cheaper alternative, buy the cheaper alternative, and then pocket the difference. I know, it sounds like it sucks, but — it works. Again, use a savings growth calculator to motivate yourself.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out sites like mint.com and billshrink.com to look for other ways to downgrade yourself. Face it — it is expensive being you, but in this day and age, you probably just can’t afford it. But cheer up — bad times never last and someday, with a little luck, we’ll all be able to eat like Henry the VIII again.