Spending money can be a lot of fun. But while splurging may feel good in the short term, it can lead to serious financial problems if you don't have a handle on your expenditures. And if you're a natural spender, there's a serious risk you could find yourself in over your head.
The good news is, even spenders can become savers with a little bit of effort. These five tips can help you to curb your spending impulses and even make saving money seem like as much fun as hitting the mall.
1. Identify financial goals that would motivate you to save
If you're really excited about a goal, it's a lot easier to save for it. Whether you want to retire early, hope to become a homeowner, or desperately want to travel and see the world, look for the goals that are most inspiring to you. Then, figure out how much you'd need to accomplish them and come up with a savings plan that enables you to achieve your dream.
2. Focus on what your savings can do for you
Instead of focusing on the deprivation in the here and now, think about how your efforts will pay off big time later. It sometimes helps to have a visual aid when you do this. If you're sacrificing to save for a dream vacation, for example, put a picture of your ideal destination in your wallet and set it as your desktop background on your computer. Whenever you go to shop online or reach for your credit card, you'll see that picture and remember that saving money now will enable you to do something awesome later.
3. Create a system of built-in rewards
Sometimes, it's really hard to stay motivated if most of your financial goals are long term and it feels like you're forever sacrificing to get to some distant payoff in the future.
To make sure this doesn't happen, set up a system of small rewards whenever you meet mini milestones. For example, for each $1,000 you save, you could treat yourself to a spa day or tickets to a sporting event or to some other luxury you love. You could also set up even smaller rewards, such as picking up your favorite dessert from the bakery for each $100 you manage to save.
Don't make the splurges so big that they undermine your efforts to save, but do make sure the reward is something you're excited about.
4. Make saving into a fun challenge
Saving money can actually be fun if you make a game out of it, and there are lots of ways you can do that.
You could aim to see how long you can go without a grocery store trip by using up items in your pantry, for example, or have a contest with your spouse to see who can go the longest without buying anything nonessential. Or you could see how low you can get your gas costs over the course of the month. By making it fun to cut costs and save more, you can change your mindset so you don't feel deprived when you work hard to spend less.
5. Set aside some cash to spend guilt-free
If you feel like you never get to do anything you want because of your efforts to save, you'll naturally resent it. But you don't have to give up everything fun; by being responsible and saving money, can you hopefully free up some cash in your budget for splurges. Since you'll plan for this spending, you can do it guilt-free, which will make it all the more enjoyable.
Following these five tips can turn anyone into a saver
When you can change your mindset about saving and find things to save for that you're passionate about, putting aside money for goals you've set will feel better than spending your cash on purchases that make you happy in the short term. You'll have the satisfaction of knowing you're working toward something you care about. And if you set aside some cash for guilt-free spending, you can save for your goals without feeling deprived of the chance to enjoy life.