Do you find you’re often spending money on pick me ups and treats after a busy day or tiring week, but you know you should be saving more? Here’s a way you can save money and treat yourself. Also known as having your cake and eating it too!
Picture this: You got up late and missed your bus, leaving you to get caught in a torrential down pour that leaves you chairing your first meeting with soaking wet trousers clinging to your legs. You work over to make up the time you missed, so you get home late, tired, hungry, fed up and in need of a treat. A lovely meal out would be just the ticket. After all, you deserve it, right?
We’ve all been there. You should absolutely treat yourself. But don’t do it yet. The day is a write off, how much could you possibly enjoy dining out? For now, whip yourself up something quick and put the money you would have spent to one side. If you’ve got a high paying savings account, perfect! If not, put it in any savings account, or failing that, a money jar will do.
That money is for treating yourself. But as I said you’re not going to do it yet. This is for a treat in 4 months’ time (which, if you’re reading this in October, will be in January, just after the expense of Christmas). How exciting! Have a think about where you want to go, and when. Will this be a midweek event or the highlight of a weekend? Is there somewhere new you want to try or are you going to go for an old favourite?
I know what you’re thinking. This helps me save now, but what’s the point if I’m going to spend it anyway?
Allow me to blind you with science… A few years ago, some researchers found that some nations (such as Germany and Israel) tend to have strong savings habits, and some nations (such as USA and UK) tend to have weak savings habits. (Apologies for the vagueness, I have searched in vain on the BBC’s website but can’t for the life of me find the article I read on this).
Anyway, the research found that nations with a better savings habit had a stronger sense of their future self. Nations that didn’t have strong savings habits had a weaker sense of their future self. The conclusion was that having a strong sense of your future self means that you are better at saving for that version of yourself, rather than spending money on your present self.
Sacrificing treats in the present in favour of treats in the future will help you to develop a stronger sense of your future self, and as a consequence the way you spend and save money.
Over the next 4 months, each time you feel like you need a pick me up, put the money to one side. Instead of spending money here and now on something you fancy, make some time for yourself just to relax, whether it’s having a nice hot soak in the bath, taking time to paint your nails, investing in your health by making time to go for a run, picking up a book meditating- whatever floats your boat.
Do something for you, that you enjoy and will help you feel relaxed, knowing you have that treat to look forward to and can still unwind in the present. Make a note of the things you put money in the pot for.
This will prove you are able to save money. It will help you say no to your present self and yes to your future self, moving your focus and hopefully your spending habits.
Once the 4 months have passed, you should take a moment just to think how it feels having sacrificed those treats over the last 4 months and how it feels to have options to do them now. Are you glad that you saved for your future self or do you wish that you’d already had your treats?
If you’re glad you saved, do you want to spend all the money right now, or is there something more important your future self would want? Rather than spending all the money on the treats you’ve saved for, you might find yourself saving 10%, 25%, or even 100% of what you’d put aside. If you do choose NOT to spend some of the money you’ve saved, that’s brilliant because it’s money you wouldn’t have saved before and is a huge step in the right direction.
You have nothing to lose by doing this. Even if you spend all the money you saved for treats (or still sometimes treat yourself in the present), you’ve made a step forward where money saving is concerned.
My future self, and fear of missing out on something better, is a huge driving force behind how I spend my money and my time and is something that developed as a child.
If I’m finding it difficult to make a decision, I flip it on its head. What would I regret more, spending money on a series of meals out or paying my mortgage off early? Framing questions like this is another way to think about your future self.
So that’s how you can save money and treat yourself. Hopefully, it’s the first step to having a stronger sense of your future self.
Do you have any ways that you save money and still treat yourself? How do you motivate yourself to put money aside for your future, rather than spending for today?