It can be difficult to find the motivation to save more money. My husband, who has a Ph.D. in Psychology, says that most humans have a hard time accurately gauging the long-term impacts of their actions. When it comes to socking money away, this is an issue because the rewards are a long way off. In the case of retirement, the rewards can be 30 or 40 years down the road, and it’s hard to be motivated by something that is decades into the future.
The dream of a secure retirement, or of having a big down payment for a home in five years, is enough for many people. Many of us, though, need a little more motivation to save up. If you are looking to motivate yourself to save more money, you need to consider adding an element of short-term rewards in order to increase the chances of success.
One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to recognize significant milestones. Mark when you have put away $1,000, $5000, or $10,000. That’s a goal you can work toward right now, and see the results. Celebrate your results by going out to dinner, or by buying an affordable treat. The further away your goal, the more important milestones are.
If you are saving up for a family vacation in six months, marking milestones isn’t as important because the reward is much more immediate: in six months, you’re going on vacation! However, if your goal is a long way into the future, you can benefit from setting benchmarks, and then celebrating when you reach them. This will keep you motivated along the way.
We hear about visualization a lot in the sports world, but the same technique works in other areas too. The idea is to visualize the desired outcome so the reward feels more real to you. If you are having trouble finding the motivation to save for retirement, you can visualize your desired outcome. Picture what you will do with your free time and money. Then, think about what your retirement will look like if you don’t save enough right now. You can use calculators to help you see the difference between investing $150 a month for retirement and investing $500 a month for retirement. Consider the difference, and use that as a motivator.
You can also provide visual cues to remind you of your goals. Put up picture of things you want to do in retirement to help you stay on track. A constant visual reminder can provide you with motivation, and help you remember why you are setting money aside.
Make it a Game/Point of Honor
It’s also possible to motivate yourself by making it a game or a point of honor. If you want to increase the amount of money you set aside each month, consider treating it like a game. You “win” each month you increase your retirement account contribution, or you save a certain amount. If you have a partner, you can compete to see who can save the most each month, or find the most wasted money to convert into savings.
What are some of the ways you motivate yourself to save money?
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