Saving and spending seems to be something that any college student would be willing to do. Make that a college student with a 16-month-old at home (that’s me!) and you will scour the internet for anything on how to spend less and save more. Part of my weekly routine before grocery shopping is looking at grocery store flyers to see which store has the cheapest berries (my daughter’s favorite), where I can buy organic and not the break the bank, and where I can get chicken and ground turkey (a Ware family staple) cheap by the pound. Spending less and saving more seems simple enough; just spend less on what need and you will save more in the long run. However, as “Want to Save more? Try Making It Automatic” tells us, “the field of psychology has shown most of us tend to overvalue the short-term over the much hazier long-term.” As the article states, this explains why we choose to eat the chocolate cake now and not think about improved health, or why we choose to splurge on something now, rather than saving for later. Having to think about willpower can become useless, especially if willpower is what we rely on for long-term decisions. So, does my daughter really need another cute set of pajamas? Does my husband really need more socks (he’s really particular when it comes to socks) even though we just bought some last week? Or do I spend less by not getting useless things so that I can save more for the future? How can I not rely solely on willpower to make this happen?

So, what does this have to do with cognitive psychology? As cognitive researchers and behavioral economists have discovered, “we set ourselves up for more cognitive fatigue if we have to make a choice to, say, spend less and save more—repeatedly.” It is simply taxing for our brain to have to make the conscious effort to make short term decisions repeatedly. Instead, they suggest different long-term techniques we could apply when making the decision to save more. Interestingly, they suggest that one should adopt “a plan that sets you up for repeated saving or spending.” All of these saving techniques deal with boosting contributions to retirement plans and 401(k) plans (something I am not a pro at) and the spending less techniques deals with examining your habits. Think about what you are spending extra money on. First, do not eat out all the time. Cancel the recurring monthly charge of $1.99 for those magazines you don’t even read. You don’t need to buy another pair of headphones because you think you “lost” your other pair. Second, stay away from the word upgrade. This is just a ploy from tech companies to get you to buy even more expensive junk. And most importantly, if you are really thinking of spending, go and shop for something in person. You become more aware of what you’re purchasing and for how much. Shopping on line makes it easier for you to just click it and forget it.



4 thoughts on “SPEND LESS, SAVE MORE

  1. Autumn Trower

    I would somewhat agree with the findings of this article. It reminds me of the saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Similarly, they both speak to the fact that not being prepared for any action puts you in a predicament of potentially not knowing what to do or how to do it. I can definitely attest to cognitive fatigue being much worse during highly stressful situations, which mostly come to myself through lack of planning. It is especially true for me as well, since I have high OCD tendencies. I too think it’s best for things to be prepared prior to.

  2. sdavis4

    I can completely relate to your post. Saving is so hard to do when you have a child especially when they ask for everything and you are a big softy and want to get them what they ask for. When she gives me big googly eyes and tears start to build, I just crack. But yes you are completely right saving is so important and worth traveling to the different stores just to get the good healthy foods and save extra money. Practicing long-term techniques I believe is the key because if you set short-term goals it will be easy for your brain to trigger that hey I met my goal and have some extra money in savings and wanna splurge a little. Another internal battle I have with myself is when I’m having a tough week my way of coping is through a little retail therapy and while I feel good at the moment my bank account suggests not so much.

    1. kware Post author

      I’m glad you can relate! It’s so hard to save with little ones because you want to buy them everything they want and it breaks your heart when you have to say no. Telling myself that if I save up and not buy the little unnecessary things, I can save and splurge on something even bigger for Harper. This really makes me feel good about my decision. I agree when you say that practicing long-term techniques is important because the goal is to make saving a habit. Also, like you said, it’s hard to save up and keep that money saved instead of splurging because we think we have some money saved up. That’s why I think it’s important to make saving not a short-term goal, but a habit.

  3. jesseboles

    I like saving money but I also like the immediate satisfaction of spending. Saying no to a child can be difficult, especially when it is something you want to buy them as well. I think the article you referenced is reliable and explains why we all have a tendency to splurge. I also liked how you said, “It is simply taxing for our brain to have to make the conscious effort to make short term decisions repeatedly,” because it is true. It is imported for us to plan and stick to that plan. We must have long-term goals in order to stay successful. If we give into short-term goals then we get into the habit of not sticking to our long-term goal.

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