No, this isn’t a dieting post, I’m not going to tell you that Keto is better than ANY OTHER DIET EVER or that you should become a vegan because #animallivesmatter. But, it’s going to sound quite similar to a post on diet and lifestyle because Self Control and Willpower, especially if you have very little or none when it comes to your finances, is going to feel like a diet.
And like all dietitian gurus, I’m going to say it’s all about moderation. And with finances, it’s all about what you value the most.
What is Self Control with Respect to Your Finances
Can there be a plate of cookies or a box of donuts in the break room at work and you don’t have any? Can you have $200 in your bank account that you don’t feel the need to spend? While one is about food and the other is about money, they are the exact same concept. Self control and willpower over your finances is just like maintaining a healthy diet. You need to plan and use information to live your best financial life. Many of these skills are taught on this blog and in my Femillionaire series on my Youtube Channel.
The Science of Willpower
Let’s chat about willpower for a second. Willpower is like a muscle, it can become fatigued, but it can also be super buff and hawt. As you use your Willpower, you’re exerting that muscle and making it tired. When you have to exert your financial willpower often whether it’s feeling too restricted, having financial issues, or other reasons, you’re more likely to make purchases you wouldn’t otherwise make.
The best way to overcome fatigue in Willpower is having a set game plan. When a situation comes up, or thoughts or feelings occur that make you want to spend, a game plan can assist in taking steps to not spend. Having rules set in stone make is so you don’t have to use any Willpower when debating an unplanned purchase. You simply won’t.
Building Financial Self Control: A Tips and Tricks
Track Your Spending: Track every single penny that comes into or out of all of your accounts and where it goes. Are you spending ungodly amounts on eating out? On Makeup? On that car? Tracking your spending is the first step in any financial journey. This also helps create Awareness on your way to becoming a Femillionaire.
There are great tools to help you track your spending, like Mint and YNAB (You Need a Budget). A simple Excel sheet also works great.
Make One Financial Decision at a Time: Science backs that decisions are exhausting. This is why people like Mark Zuckerberg wear the exact same thing every day. (And your blogger might follow a similar principle!). Decision fatigue is a thing, and so is Willpower fatigue, especially if you’re making too many financial decisions at a time. Make one decision, let it sink in and blend in with your finances, and then make you’re next decision. Decision 1 could cost a lot more, or a lot less, than you initially intended.
A prime example of this is having your first baby. While you’re preparing (and spending!) for baby incoming AND you need a new car, it’s really easy to go from affordable sedan to expensive SUV because you’re already spending so much on baby, you should get the more expensive car (plus you deserve it!). But that’s wrong, wrong, wrong. If your old car is fine, keep it, but if you need a new car, focus on that purchase first, remove baby from the equation.
Save Automatically: Your bank can do automatic transactions, did you know that? Set up automatic transactions so that every pay period your money is sent to savings, debts, and investments. Many times when money is out of sight, it’s out of mind. Also, having money specifically assigned to a labeled account can do wonders for one’s psychology.
Personally, every pay check I have money that goes my investments, a savings account at a different bank, savings accounts for travel, a treat yo self fund, my kitty, and my car. Whatever is left in my checking account is for bills, then fun.
Avoid Temptation: Remember those donuts in the break room? Guess where I’m not eating my lunch today. This rule applies for savings. Avoid places where you spend money or make you want to spend money. This includes shopping malls, certain Youtubers, and social media. You can also manage your spending by only carrying cash.
Find Support: Surround yourself who have your best financial welfare in mind, or with friends who understand if you cannot attend an event because you’re trying to save money. You know your friend who is always broke? Have them read this post, they need some Financial Willpower in their life.
If you struggle with managing your finances, seek help. Many psychologists have tools to help people better manage their money.
The Bottom Line
Just like with eating healthy, in today’s consumerist world, Willpower takes energy. But, it can take less energy if you build strong habits in decision making, and by resetting your primary reaction to not buying anything that hasn’t been well researched, much needed, and long awaited.