For the most part, growing toward your financial goals is a lot like watching grass grow: It moves slowly—so slowly, that it can sometimes feel like it’s not moving at all. So slowly, that it’s easy to get distracted, and move onto other things.
But when it comes to your money, slow and steady wins the race. Consistent, smart money moves will add up to a healthy financial life over time. Once you develop a system that works, your job is simply to keep the course, adjusting as needed without losing focus on your big-picture goals.
If you’re feeling frustrated by the lack of noticeable progress in your financial life, and are feeling tempted to splurge, start by asking yourself why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling. All too often, we let our short-term emotions dictate our long-term financial decisions: letting a temporary lack of purpose, inspiration, or a feeling of impulsivity or stress, take you way off course from achieving your goals.
Here are four reasons you might be struggling with the motivation to save money, and how to overcome them.
Lacking purpose? Get clear about your priorities
Let’s be honest: Saving for the sake of saving isn’t very fun. If you’re saving money without specific goals in mind, you probably aren’t getting a lot of joy out of saving. So many of us begin our financial lives saving simply because we know we should, and then lose motivation quickly as soon as life and the temptation of fun purchases start to get in the way.
But once you clarify why you’re saving, you can put every financial decision into context: “Would I rather have this (insert thing you want right now), or this (insert thing you’ve been dreaming about for years)?”
When you have a reason to save, you start saving with purpose. You start to look for opportunities to save more money. You might even see it as a game, the objective of which is to afford the things you really want in life.
The first step is to really think through what it is that you want. If you’re intimidated by the idea of planning five or ten years into the future (who isn’t?), then start smaller: What would make your life more fulfilling, meaningful, or exciting in the next year?
For instance, do you want to quit your current happiness-draining job, but need to save up a few months of living expenses to feel comfortable taking the plunge? Or do you want to have the resources to run a successful side business? Or maybe you just want to have more time to spend with your friends and family. Getting clear about your financial priorities will help you feel a sense of purpose that can motivate you to keep saving.
Lacking inspiration? Dream a bigger dream
If you’ve been crushing this personal finance thing for a while, you might be struggling with motivation because you don’t feel as much pressure to save money as you once did. Maybe you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck anymore, or you don’t need to be as aggressive with paying off debt as you once were. Without the pressure of struggling to make ends meet, you might not be as motivated to save as much as possible.
If this sounds familiar, then it might be time to dream a bigger dream. Now that you’ve gotten yourself to this place, what’s next? Maybe you’re so used to thinking about your finances in terms of what you have to do, that you haven’t ever really given much thought to what you want to do with your money.
Do you want to start saving for that epic road trip? Or maybe you’d like to save for a new bike project. Maybe that distant dream of buying a home all by yourself can actually become a reality—or you can finally commit to becoming a parent to the puppy of your dreams.
Then, create a Goal in your Simple Account to start saving for it. Add an inspiring photo to be reminded of your vision every time you look at your Goals, so you stay inspired to save wherever you can.
Feeling impulsive? Stay the course
Whenever you experience a change in your financial life, like getting a raise or finally making the last payment on your credit card (congrats, by the way), it can be tempting to do something ‘fun’ (aka impulsive) with your money. It’s totally healthy to treat yourself, but first, make sure to think about the long game.
If you’ve spent time building a current system and it works, changing it up might derail you from saving. For instance, if you had been focused on paying off your credit card and just finished making your last payment (again, congratulations), don’t stop automating payments or delete your existing savings account. Instead, you can put the system and habits you’ve already developed to good use by saving for another goal.
If you have an account with us, you can easily rename an existing Goal in your account and make tweaks to the amount and time frame for your new Goal.
Feeling restricted? Budget for a splurge
Does your budget have any wiggle room? If not, you might be struggling with motivation to save money because you feel restricted or limited by your budget—especially if you know that you don’t have to be pinching pennies to the extent that you are.
If your current budget feels unnecessarily restrictive, look for ways to loosen the reigns a bit without letting your spending run wild.
One way to do this is to give yourself a spending allowance—an amount of money that keeps you within your budget, but that you can spend however your heart desires. If you’re the planning type, you might choose to save up a few months’ worth and treat yourself to that big-ticket item you’ve had your eye on. Or maybe you’ll spend it all on new plants or craft beers or accessories for your home. The point is, the money is yours to spend guilt-free, no questions asked. Planning ahead for this type of spontaneity can help you stay motivated to keep the course—so you don’t derail your best laid financial plans.
If you don’t currently have any extra cash to devote to a spending allowance, see if there are expenses you can reduce so that you can afford to treat yourself. Maybe you can cut ties with a few streaming services, or take control of your variable expenses, so that you can have $50 or $100 just for you each month.
If you’re sharing money with a partner, try setting aside money for each of you in separate Goals that you contribute to each month. Remember not to pass judgment on how your partner chooses to spend their money: the whole point is to be able to have a sense of freedom. Restricting that freedom can lead one or both of you to rebel against the budget.
You didn’t come this far to only come this far!
Maintaining the motivation to save money can be tough, especially when you start to feel a lack of purpose, inspiration, or freedom in your budget. Be honest with how you’re feeling, so that you can understand how to move forward in a way that will work for you.
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