Whether you are good with money isn’t about IQ, it’s about behavior. Your behavior is influenced by how and what you think. Here are 11 ways you can use psychology to adjust your behavior and change your life.
Look at Your Bank Balance Every Day
A simple way to do better with money is to look at your bank balances every day. When we were a cash-based society you literally had to give something to someone else to make a purchase. Now, all we have to do is swipe and, somewhere in the digital world, money moves somewhere else. It’s not as visual and it’s not as tangible.
A study found that participants using a mobile app to track spending reduced their spending by nearly 16 percent.
Look at your bank account balances every single day. This will make your swipes more tangible.
It will also allow you to look at your savings account, take pride in its balance, and entice you to save more.
If You Decide to Forego a Purchase, Immediately Move That Money into Your Savings Account.
Foregoing a purchase can be hard. It can feel like you are being deprived of something.
You can turn that negative feeling into a positive one if, immediately after you decide to forego a purchase, you move that money into your savings account.
Check Your Bank Balance Before Making a Large Purchase
Again, swiping your card isn’t as tangible as purchasing with cash.
A Federal Reserve study also found that people who check their bank balances before making a big purchase were half as likely to make the purchase.
Recognize Your Influences
Your subconscious makes 90% of your decisions without you even realizing it. The single largest influencer on how we view and use money is our upbringing.
Even if you don’t remember your parents sitting you down and teaching you formal lessons about personal finance, you still learned from them… simply through experience and observation.
They taught you what was “normal”. If they were living paycheck to paycheck, it might feel normal for you to live paycheck to paycheck. If they were frugal and didn’t spend money on things they enjoyed, you might feel guilty splurging.
Whatever the case, it’s important to think about your money influences and reflect on how they might impact your own perspective. Take some time to write down the answer to the following questions so you can examine whether the answers are having an impact on your success with money.
Question 1– What was considered “normal” in your family in terms of spending, saving, and using money?
Question 2– Were your parents open about money or was it a taboo subject?
Question 3– Did you always live paycheck to paycheck, or always have enough?
Question 4– Did your parents show that they were planning for the long term or only living for the short?
Once you answer these questions:
- Challenge whether these passed down influences are being demonstrated in how you handle money.
- Decide where, or if, you should break from your parents’ example.
Eliminate the Excuses and Crutches
When things don’t go our way, we have ways of protecting ourselves emotionally. One way is to use excuses.
My boss doesn’t pay me enough to make ends meat.
I’ll start saving money when….
I don’t want to deprive my kids.
I work hard for my money and want to enjoy it.
My spouse isn’t on board.
To eliminate excuses, you must first recognize them.
Then, eliminate them.
Start saving now.
Stop blaming your boss.
Your kids will be better off if you get financially healthy.
Saving isn’t depriving yourself, it’s paying your future self.
Set One Small Goal, Rather Than a Lot of Big Ones
Have you ever seen the movie What About Bob?
In it, the main character Bob (played by Bill Murray) is given a book by his psychiatrist Dr. Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss) called “Baby Steps.” Dr. Marvin explains that Bob shouldn’t worry about all the big things he needs to do, just set small, reasonable goals, one step at a time. This is great advice for making financial progress.
Instead of saying, “I’m going to pay off all my credit card debit, save for a car, and stop couch shopping on Amazon.” You might say, “I’m going to pay an extra $100 beyond the minimum payment this month toward my credit card balance.”
Once you accomplish the first goal, set another.
Set a One Month Goal, Rather Than a One Year
According to research by Roy Baumeister and his colleagues at Case Western Reserve University showed that our willpower muscles can get tired. A year is a long time.
Setting a goal for a month, or even a week, instead of a year could help you be more successful in accomplishing it.
Plan a Treat if You Achieve Success
It’s easier to do something hard if you have something to look forward to. Big goals should have big rewards. Small goals, small rewards.
Obsess Over Your Goals, Or Your Reward
Goals can wither away in our minds. We can get distracted.
To remain focused on your goal, obsess over it.
For instance, if your goal is to save enough money to buy a house, download the Zillow or Redfin app, watch House Hunters on HGTV, or even attend open houses.
It has been said, “until your dreams become emotional, they won’t be powerful enough.” Find the deep-down emotional reason why it matters that you accomplish your goal and cling to that. Others have suggested journaling about your goals every day as another way to stay focused.
Set up funds to automatically be withdrawn from your paycheck and put into your savings account. This will prevent you from devoting limited willpower resources to deciding whether to spend or save money.
Share Your Goals with Someone
Research shows that having a support system can help you reach your goals. Surround yourself with people you trust who will be supportive of your financial goals and willing to help you succeed.