How to spend less money without relying on willpower
Uppdaterat: 29 juni 2020
There are so many ways to spend less by being frugal and using willpower. Most posts will write about how you can save on food, housing, transportation and so on. The problem with just talking about the technical side of money is that the mental side need to work before you can do any of those frugal hacks. The psychological side of money is where you can create lasting change. I can highly recommend to read this post with pen and paper and write out ideas that come into your head. Let's get right into it.
1. Find your weakness
We all have a weak spot for some kind of stuff that costs money. It can be makeup, shoes, clothes, decoration, second hand shops, sports equipment, training courses etc. Which one is yours? Mine is spending on my business which is the reason I have a cash envelope for that spending. Just finding the clarity here is a huge step in the right direction.
2. Find out your excuses
The second step is to figure out your excuses. What do you tell yourself that justifies the purchase? Here we need to listen in on our own thought process whenever the shopping urge comes. Examples can be: "because it's health-related", "it's important", "because I work so hard", "I deserve to have a break with a little something" etc. Write yours down and find an opposite thought that doesn't involve spending money.
3. Plan ahead
A lot of purchases are made because we are hungry, tired, unmotivated etc. This is normal because we all have limited time and energy in each day. Take a moment when you have energy and time and analyze where and when you spend on things that you don't like. Is it at 3pm when the afternoon dip comes? or late at night after a big day and you don't want to do any cooking so you buy take-home pizza? on the weekend sometime? whatever it is. Plan for these moments and implement the plan. Buy healthy snacks and stock up at work. Or prepare meals on the weekend not only for lunch but also for the evenings and so on. You can decide what works best for you.
4. Remove temptations
One of the best ways to avoid having to rely on willpower is to remove temptations. Its almost impossible to resist a temptation when exposed to them for more than 10 minutes. Examples can be: blocking certain websites that tempt you to buy things, avoiding shops and malls, taking a different way to work to avoid walking by shops and advertisement, hanging out less with friends who spend money like crazy.
5. Identify situations and emotions behind
Unplanned spending often comes from trigger emotions like boredom, frustration and anxiety. Can you link your spending to any emotions like these? maybe at a certain time of the day or situation? on the subway with your phone? after talking to your family? after a fight with your partner? when alone on the weekend? etc.
If you do some journaling and try to answer these questions you can then come up with a strategy for how to cope with these emotions and situations. Examples can be to take up knitting (great substitute for scrolling on the phone, keeping hands busy), crafts, yoga, painting, journaling, walking in nature, producing something for your business, learning a language or skill, staying in contact with friends and family and so on.
6. Find your why
If you have your own, personal "why" to take control of your money, it makes you unstoppable. Something personal that resonates on a deep, emotional level. Take this and make it your mantra, write it down where you can look at it often. Examples can be: "I am creating a different life for my child", "I'm working towards financial independence so I can leave my partner", "I'm buying a ticket out of this toxic work environment", "I'm saving up to go to X school to become a X", "I want to travel the world" or "I'm building a strong money foundation to be able to help my mom".
One of the most important ingredients in creating lasting behavioural change is to make a commitment. Committing to a process (e.g. track spending) is essential to do before making any changes. The process needs to be simple and require very little effort but on an every-day basis (like adding expenses into your budget each night). You can say your commitment out loud to yourself or write it down somehow. No worries if you don't think you can do it. Do it anyway and if your why is strong enough, this will be easy.
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