The Psychology of Saving

Money is still such a big taboo in our culture. Studies have shown that generally people are more comfortable talking about almost any other topic and one survey showed that the majority of people would rather sit in two hours of traffic, rather than have to discuss their finances (WILD)

With nearly half of Australians regularly stressing about money, it’s more important than ever to unpack why we feel this way and figure out how we can make money a comfortable topic to tackle.

The things that are often thought of when it comes to changing habits is that you need practical skills or more information to make that happen, and while knowledge is important, it’s not the only thing that matters.

Instead we really need to take a moment to look introspectively to specifically outline our problems, and what the real solution to that problem might be. We need to understand the context of what’s going on in our big beautiful brains that is creating the feelings and behaviours.

And these things don’t just happen.

Our brains are designed to conserve energy and create routine – they’re designed to go on auto pilot. And our habits can be formed over weeks, years or even decades, but they don’t always serve us. Whether it’s ordering a takeaway when we’re tired, or shopping when we’re sad, these small habits and choices can add up to significant sums of money over the course of a year. They can be the difference between having the cashflow to have a healthy emergency fund and not.

So much of this is happening subconsciously, but if we want to change our habits we have to go through a deliberate behavioural change process, working as a team with our brain to change in a way that works alongside how it was designed to function.

“But how?!”  we hear you yelling through your screen – start by focusing on one habit at a time, rather than trying to shift all the habits that you have.

Practise small changes that will intentionally provide you a dopamine hit – get a kick out of seeing your savings go up? Lets transfer $5 into your savings account every single week. Create a loop of positive reinforcement and trick your brain into falling in love with your new habits because they feel good.

Be gentle with yourself. Change is non linear, and it is totally normal to fall off the wagon. If we punish ourselves for this we create a negative association, which is going to be off putting for our brain when we try to get back on track.

Celebrate the wins. Behaviour change succeeds if you’re feeling good about the process. Allow yourself the time to take things slowly, without slipping into negative self talk. Remember that small progress is still progress and that is something worthy of recognition.

And most importantly, if you need help, get it. Whether that’s organising for your bestie to be your accountability buddy, or reaching out to a professional to help put together an action plan, surrounding yourself with people and resources that support you can make you feel like the new neural pathway you’re trying to build is a little less lonely.

If you’re trying to change your financial habits, the Wisr Today app may be able to help! Designed by psychologists and behavioural science consultants, the app uses psychology for finance, providing bite-sized coaching that dives into the WHY of your spending and uses the science of habit change to improve your financial health. You can download the Wisr Today app on iOS or Android and use the code SOTM22 to get your 3 months membership for *free* to help get you started and see if it’s the right fit for you!

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