Until nav.it, I was in the Bermuda Triangle of money management – caught in between the islands of “YOLO” and “I need to Save More”.
The funny thing about “you only live once” is that you still have to be able to afford it. In order to treat myself, travel more, and live my best life, I had to come to terms with saving more.
Here’s some of my best tips for retraining the way your brain thinks, so you can manage money better, save more, and stress a little less.
Answering Your “Why”
Your “why” is your motivation – the reason you’ve started saving in the first place. It impacts your persistence and intensity while you’re stackin’ paper and it’s the reminder you need to recover if $hit happens.
Whether it’s a future, richer you, a short-term savings goal like a vacation, defining your “why” keeps you motivated. Figure it out.
Write it Down
According to Forbes, “People who vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t.”
This might feel woo-woo, but you’re doing more than manifesting a positive financial outcome. You’re setting a savings goal with intention.
Track What You’re Spending (and Not Saving)
According to a poll from Gallup, two-thirds of Americans don’t track their monthly spending.
Pulling off the Band-Aid: How are you gonna save anything if you don’t know what you’re spending?
Tracking your spending gives insights into your spending habits which directly impact your saving.
That sense of satisfaction from a color coded closet? Don’t limit it to your wardrobe. As one theory by Professor Richard Thaler reveals, you’ll reap emotional and financial rewards from categorizing your spending.
These categories help you increase mental accounting of money and reduce the spend-ability of the total you have.
Track your money better.
Some people use cash envelopes and spend only the money they have allocated to each category. Others track their spending with budgeting apps.
Budgeting has a polarizing reputation. It’s either the source of your wealth or the bane of your money woes – the reason you can’t buy the latest PS4 and the source of guilt and resentment if you cave and do buy it.
Instead of focusing on the sacrifices in your budget, like how hurtful it is you can’t get the latest Urban Decay palette, reframe it.
Reframing is a technique used to help create a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing its meaning
Because you’re not buying the latest trend, you’ll pay off your student loans faster or get to Fiji sooner. Reframing is all about shifting the way you think about your spending and saving.
Buddy Up with an Accountability Partner
From your personal trainer to organizations like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous, behavioral change is empowered by accountability and community.
So if you’re trying to save more, find an accountability partner, hire a coach, or join a community. It’s well-known the power of community will keep you motivated and improve your sense of wellbeing. But it can also improve your financial wellness and your savings rate.
Want to lean on someone with a little more expertise? Send a message to a money coach in the nav.it money app.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind.
Put your savings in a separate bank account.
Why put it aside? Putting the funds in a different account than your daily spending serves as a mental nudge to not use them. It ensures that you’re actively working toward your savings goals and prevents overspending. Best of all, you’ll know exactly how much you have saved at a glance.
Break a Big Goal Down
Big challenges can easily become overwhelming. Break down your savings goal into smaller, more tolerable steps.
Maxing out a 401k ($19,500!) annually is huge. Break it down into bi-weekly paychecks and you’re looking at $750 every two weeks.
Still a big sum to swallow? Yeah, for me too.
Think of it this way:
$5 a week = $260 a year
$10 a week = $520 a year
$50 a week = $2,600 a year
$100 a week = $5,200 a year
Squirreling away smaller amounts at shorter and regular intervals is a lot easier than randomly stashing cash. Consistency is key to growing your savings.
Make Saving Part of Your Routine
Speaking of your paycheck, have money transferred to your savings account every time you get paid. It doesn’t matter if it is $5 or $750—simply making this routine will ensure you are saving more.
Evidence from multiple studies suggests you will actually save greater amounts over the long term by automating it. Automation is autopilot for saving, reducing the risk posed by willpower fatigue.
Willpower fatigue – there is a finite store of mental energy for exerting self-control. When people fended off the temptation to scarf down M&M’s or freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, they were then less able to resist other temptations.
Pro Tip: Create an Auto-Save inside the nav.it app. Your savings is available for withdrawal at any time and you can save for as many goals as you want!
Pause Before Purchasing
While shopping, we go through a quick cycle of need recognition, research, and swiping. Instead of rushing to check-out, give yourself three days to think about a specific purchase decision.
During the 72-hour period, ask yourself if you really need the item. Is it worth how many hours it will take for you to earn it? By waiting, you improve your objectivity about the purchase and the spending temptations. (Damn you, sales emails!)
List it out.
The mother of all productivity hacks: lists. Lists organize needs, increase focus, and force us to reflect on our purchases in advance. Ultimately, they help us reduce spending. It might just be the cure for buyer’s remorse and produce gone bad.
And can also serve as the reminder for why you’re saving.
The number of ways to train your brain to spend less and save more is probably as countless as the neurons firing reading this. Improve your money habits with these quick tips to start saving more.