You make financial decisions every day. They might be simple, like how much you should spend on a meal, or they might be figuring out how to pay your bills.
Managing your personal finances requires a certain degree of willpower. But how do you know you have enough? And how can you get more?
The Muscle Analogy
Willpower is often compared to a muscle: it can be strong, but it can also get tired. You can only exercise it for so long.
For example, if you walk by a plate of cookies once, you might be able to avoid temptation. But walking by two or three times may cause you to cave and grab one.
If you’re not rich, chances are you’ll need to work your financial willpower muscle regularly… and it probably gets tired. Fortunately, you can build up strength. Here’s how:
8 Tips to Improve Financial Willpower
1. Space out your financial decisions
Making multiple decisions per day means you’ll get weaker and weaker with each decision. Schedule out bills, savings plans and purchases so you tackle them one at a time.
2. Track spending
Seeing both your failures and successes can give you the motivation you need to keep improving.
3. Automate savings
You can set up some of your paycheck to automatically deposit to a savings account. This ensure you don’t have to make this particular financial decision every pay period!
4. Make obtainable goals
Most New Year’s resolutions fail because the goals are too difficult. If you currently aren’t saving any money, start with a goal of $50 per month. Reaching that goal can empower you to increase that slowly throughout the year.
5. Avoid some (not all) temptations
Because willpower is a finite resource, you cannot (and should not) expect to resist all temptations. You’re not going to be able to go from having coffee and donuts every day to not having them at all, so plan for every other day at first.
6. Consider price vs. quality
You probably have your favorite brands and prefer some items with a higher price tag because of the quality. Sometimes that’s important, but sometimes it’s something you can easily overlook.
If the brand you like is 3x more than another brand, seriously ask yourself if it’s also 3x better. This could be an easy way for you to save and make you feel better about choices you’re making.
7. Watch your blood sugar level
Experts have found that having low blood sugar can significantly reduce your willpower. With that in mind, don’t make any important financial decisions on an empty stomach.
8. Improve your posture
Improving other areas of your life can also help your willpower. For example, if you make an effort to sit with better posture every day, that might strengthen your willpower when faced with important decisions.
Building up your willpower is not easy, but working on these tips can help you improve throughout the year.