Many people tend to find themselves tighter on funds than they ever hoped and planned to be. Whether it’s due to business being slower than normal or simply unfortunate and costly events like car issues or medical emergencies, it can be really easy to see what little you have in savings slip away in the blink of an eye and even send you into debt.
This is frustrating and discouraging, especially when you have other important or fun things you want to do with your money. So how do you get ahead of the curve? How do you get yourself to save more when it seems like you can’t get ahead? The answer is more simple than you might think. Find what motivates you to save more!
Away With the Negative Motivators
For some, this may be over-simplified but when people have a hard time saving, it’s usually due to how they motivate themselves to save. A lot of the motivation people use tends to be negative.
Sure, saving for a “rainy day,” simply “just having more money,” or having an emergency fund for “anything unexpected that comes up” are motivating but they are too often- not motivating enough. There are 2 main issues with using these types of things as your only savings motivators:
- You are planning for something that will eventually happen but there’s no specific timeline holding you to a savings goal. This often makes it seem like less of a priority and will not inspire you to keep adding to the fund.
- They are negative reasons. Seriously think about it. It is more motivating to sacrifice more at the moment to put money away for something you’re looking forward to (vacation, new car etc..) rather than something you’re dreading (sickness, car problems etc..).
Forbes shows that money in itself is not the best motivator and instead, an article states that “Most successful entrepreneurs say that their primary motivation has been to build something lasting, not to make a lot of money.”
Emotional and positive motivation goes a long way. In order to motivate yourself to start saving more while going about it in a positive and more effective way, you will need to find out what really motivates you.
If you’re unsure how to find those things that really get you to sacrifice and save more, you can follow a few general steps that will help you figure out what is really going to motivate you.
- Identify Your Passions
The first thing you’ll want to do is identify what you’re passionate about. Passion has the power to drive you and push you to reach your potential. It’s a powerful thing that you can tune into and use to motivate your savings practices. Are you passionate about traveling? your kids’ hobbies? your car?
Take some time to sit down with a pen and paper and write down the things you think you’re passionate about. Don’t over-think it at this stage. Just write things that spark joy in you, get you excited to think about and make you feel alive.
- Decide on Your Priorities
After you have identified your passions, you may realize that you have a LOT of them to choose from (if not, this step will be easier).
Either way, whether you have 3 main passions or 30, you will need to prioritize them. A few ways to prioritize your passions would be to rank them 1-10 or 1-30 (however many you have) by importance. Some will be easier to rank than others but you can use relevance to help narrow them down.
You will probably want to rank the highly relevant ones closer to the top or biggest and hardest near the top since they may need more of your time. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, you simply have to figure out which of these passions and motivators are the most important so you have somewhere to start. You can always go back and adjust your ranking or lists later.
Don’t get stuck on this step! Just keep moving.
- Set a Goal to Save More
By now you have at least a rough estimate of what your top 1-5 passions and priorities are. These things may be big, expensive and overwhelming but as long as you allow yourself to tackle one (or just a few) at a time, they will seem more doable.
With a definite date and/or amount attached to your most important passions, you will have a well-defined goal that is not only more attainable, but also something that is really important to you and motivating.
- Reward Yourself
Different people have their preferred ways to reward themselves so get creative with this step! It is SO important to reward yourself because that is a positive motivator that keeps your eyes on the prize and will ultimately keep you feeling like your sacrifices and hard work are paying off.
These things take time so you need to find ways to keep your spirits up and reward yourself a little along the way and big time when you reach your goal.
An Example of How to Save More
For example, your top passions and motivators at the moment are traveling, fitness and owning your dream car. These are all positive, rewarding and fun things that will motivate you to sacrifice in the present to save more for the future.
If you ranked them in the order:
3. Own dream car,
then you will have an idea where you will put the most money and which ones to focus on first.
Set your goals to save $2000 in 1 year to take your next dream trip, save $100 each month to cover your favorite fitness class or gym membership, save $6000 each year for 4-6 years to pay for your dream car.
The Versatility of a Positive Goal
Everyone’s goals will look different and you will have to look at your budget and make sure it is doable. You would be surprised at how you can make room in a budget when you’re able to set really motivating goals that have an end in sight.
It will be easier to cut things out of your budget in favor of reaching your goals sooner. Reward yourself with something that is worth it to you and that you’re passionate about. Plus, if you still want to have a rainy day fund on hand (which is wise and highly recommended) and have the budget to feed into that as well, you can do that! However, if you want to focus on your priorities and “fun” goals, you also have the freedom to save more for emergencies.
Those kinds of savings are more versatile since you will feel guilty taking from a rainy day fund to take a vacation or buy a car but it isn’t as nearly guilt-inducing if you must bite into your travel fund to fix your car or pay a medical bill.
Once you find the things that make you want to save and show yourself that there’s a payoff in sight, you will find yourself getting more creative in order to save more and save it faster than ever before. Saving can actually become an exciting and fun process when you have a positive payout in your reach.