Psychological experiments going back decades have suggested that children who are able to exercise “deferred gratification” are likely to do better in just about every dimension of life, than children who act compulsively and seek immediate gratification.
Most famously, this was demonstrated through experiments where researchers would offer child subjects one tasty treat immediately, or two if they could wait for a period of a few minutes.
The same kind of thing is arguably quite true with adults, but obviously with regards to money, rather than just sugary snacks.
Whatever it is you want out of your life, whatever you hope to achieve, and whatever you’d like to buy, your ability to save effectively will play a major role in your ability to fulfill your ambitions and dreams.
Plenty has been said about the best kinds of tools and systems for budgeting and saving. But how about the mindset of a successful saver? What exactly does that look like?
Well, here are some suggestions.
Pause, be mindful and do your research
One of the major things that stand in the way of people being able to practice a high degree of financial responsibility, and reliably put aside money for a rainy day or a long-term ambition, is straightforward knee-jerk compulsive spending.
These days, there are more luxurious consumer goods available than ever before in human history, and there is an incredibly powerful advertising industry at hand to make sure that we always know about the incredible benefits that we could enjoy by owning these items.
It’s natural, then, that so many of us find ourselves strolling through a shopping centre from time to time with no intention of buying anything other than a book, or some groceries, only to walk away with three shopping bags full of purchases.
A successful saver mindset, on the other hand, is one which places a high emphasis on the value of being mindful in your spending and pausing before committing to purchases. Hopefully, before getting a mortgage, you would do your research and look for the best adjustable rate mortgage deals.
The same should apply generally for any other purchase you might make in your life. Before you buy something, take a deep breath, step back, and create a bit of “mental space.” Often, this will mean walking away and reflecting on the purchase for a day or two first.
Don’t simply ask yourself “is there some benefit to spending on this thing?” Ask yourself “do the pros of spending on this thing outweigh the cons?”
On the back of the broader minimalist movement, the recent book “Digital Minimalism,” has already been gaining significant popularity for some of its insightful suggestions on the best way to manage tech overload in your life.
One principle that the author refers to here is “the Amish principle,” of not just signing up to a new tool or piece of tech because it “has some benefit.” Instead, the suggestion is to ask whether the benefit of the thing outweighs all the potential downsides, before bringing it into your life.
You should have a similar mindset towards your spending habits. Before you buy something, ask yourself not only “is there some benefit to this thing?” But also “does the benefit of me buying this thing outweigh all the potential cons?”
It may be that a new piece of kit or equipment will make you happy for a little while, but that the financial cost would impact you negatively in other areas of your life for some time.
In this case, consider passing up on the purchase – at least for now. After all, your purchases should support your overall quality of life, your life shouldn’t be a support mechanism for your purchases.
Treat saving like a game – take pride in the act of saving itself
Many people who get seriously into saving find that, sooner or later, they actually really enjoy it. Almost invariably, the most successful savers are also those who treat saving like a game and take some pride in the act of saving itself.
Try and develop the sense in yourself that saving up is something uplifting and pleasurable. Make a game of it. Set yourself savings targets, and enjoy seeing your savings account grow to meet those goals.
You could even bring friends, relatives, or members of online savings communities in on it. You could even make competitions out of it.