Have you ever thought about where your spending habits come from? We all know that some of us have a hard time saving money, while others find it difficult or painful to spend their hard-earned cash.
Some of your money management style comes from your upbringing — the lessons your parents taught (or didn’t teach) you either by example or instruction.
What’s interesting, though, is that children often grow up with very different habits for handling money than their parents or siblings. Why is this? Well, essentially it’s because of the psychology of spending vs. saving.
Researchers have spent decades performing studies on various groups to unlock the mystery of spending habits. What they’ve found is that there’s an area of the brain associated with unpleasant experiences that is more or less active when test subjects went through the motions of spending money.
Subjects who experience more activity in this area of the brain are those who are more hesitant to spend money, and experience heightened pleasure when they’re able to save money.
While this offers an explanation why some people are just naturally spenders and others are savers, it isn’t an excuse for poor money management (“I can’t help it; I’m just wired that way”). But neither does it offer a solution for making the most of what’ve we’ve been dealt.
If you’re a natural spender, and find it difficult to save money, you’re not alone. While your habits might not reach the extremes of compulsory spending, not feeling in control of your spending is frustrating, and dangerous to your financial stability.
The first step to dealing with a problem is acknowledging you it. Consider these ideas:
- Seek help from a ‘saver’ friend
- Ask for advice and strategies from a financial counselor or adviser
- Put up safeguards to raise your own awareness for falling into old habits (eliminating credit cards, withdrawing money physically, etc.)
The harder it is for you to spend irresponsibility, the more intentional you’ll be about either spending anyway or stopping yourself in your tracks. so having these failproof tactics in place will help you stay on track.
If you’re a natural saver, you might think you’re getting off the hook. Not so fast!
Those who find it easy to save may look like they have it all together — a healthy savings account, a good budget, financial goals — but under the surface, they may find it difficult to spend money (even when it’s necessary or helpful) without guilt.
Not being able to spend money on things you’ve saved for, need or want, can hinder your quality of life (think of Scrooge). If you’re responsible with your finances, there’s no reason to feel guilty about spending money.
To help yourself get over this problem, consider the following:
- Build up your excitement about purchases you’ve saved for (to push away the guilt). Associate more pleasure than pain with the act of spending
- Remind yourself how good you are with your money and that you deserve to enjoy it
- Consult with others when you’re feeling guilty
Just because you’re naturally more prone to spending or saving doesn’t mean you’re doomed to live with either disastrous or hindered finances. Are you a natural saver or spender?
Take a personal inventory of what’s been outlined here, and find out the psychology of your spending or saving habits. Then take the necessary steps to embrace this characteristic and make the most of it.
Are you a spender or saver? What’s one thing you can do today to balance out your natural spender or saver mentality?