Fed up with frugality? Tired of thriftiness? Let’s think of things to help you stick to your savings goal.
This post was inspired by one day when I got extremely fed up – with my savings project, my house and my life.
We’d been knuckling down to save up a deposit on a house. We were doing a pretty good job of being models of contentment, with a few treats here and there, but overall we’d spent comparatively little on fun. We did lots of outdoor activities over the summer months and packed our lunches for these days out.
The problem was, I couldn’t stand the house we were renting. It was damp and stank of mould, and I couldn’t wait to get out and into another house.
I’ve always been cautious with money, thanks to my mum’s reverse-example and high levels of innate guilt, but my self-denial peaked since starting the savings project. How was it, then, that I suddenly found myself actually shopping… and purchasing… in Manchester one weekend?
I went hither, thither and yon that weekend, but all in my head. The bigger items on my to-do list (switching broadband and energy suppliers, tracking the food budget, remembering to fill the slow cooker in the mornings) were all still there, but they were temporarily swept aside. Why? I got discouraged.
Discouragement when saving long-term
I started looking too closely at the end goal and started picking holes in my pathway there.
If we didn’t stand a chance of getting a mortgage after all, I thought, maybe we should just stay put a bit longer and save to buy a house outright! (It should be noted that we live in one of the few parts of the country where this is possible.)
But I hated that house so much… what if we saved and saved only just enough to buy an identical mouldy moneypit? Well then, I thought, I’d rather just pay one or two hundred more a month and live somewhere clean and dry right now – I mean, we can afford it!
And that’s how I got myself into a bad mood.
Escape to retail therapy
I told my husband that we were going ‘somewhere nice’, which could have meant to the corner shop as far as I was concerned, as long as I was no longer in the house. The weather was dull, we were all somewhat rushed, so I suggested one of our carefully rationed treat days.
Both of the guys put up with my dithering in the shops rather admirably, although Little B was losing his cool as well as the will to live after a few hours of compulsive shopping around.
After some time and comparisons I finally crossed off one item off of my ‘needs list’ and made my purchase – a new leather wallet.
Now I could whip out my plastic for my measly purchases without leaving pieces of my £1 charity shop-bought wallet clinging to my fingers as well as the shop counter. The old one had served me well, but it was falling to pieces, and I knew I wouldn’t need to replace my new one for years.
But buying stuff can’t make you happy.
They call it retail therapy for a reason – there is an instant payoff to shopping, which is why so many people find it addictive. However, it doesn’t last. I had a problem with contentment, which needed more than a few hours and a bit of spending to sort out.
My husband, who was actually fairly content with the place we lived in, was rather taken aback by how strongly I felt and suggested that we’d look into all options.
So what about my goal? Actually, I felt much less stressed after talking about it with my other half. In less than a year, we’d bought our house.
Here are 3 things to help you stick to your savings goal.
1 – Schedule in treats
Spending very infrequently has the effect of turning any purchase into an event – it feels like a shopping spree when you finally let rip.
This is natural and you can turn it to your advantage by identifying something you genuinely need in the short term and putting aside some savings for that. (I could have done without my new wallet, but years later it still looks as good as new, so it was a wise purchase.)
Schedule your treats – it’s easier to be tight-fisted for your long-term goals when you know you’ve got something short-term to look forward to as well. This doesn’t have to be something you spend money on, just something to break up the routine and make your long-term journey more enjoyable.Schedule your treats to help you stick to your savings goals! Click To Tweet
2 – Focus on needs, not wants
Writing a ‘need’ list helps, but writing a ‘want’ list might be counter-productive. It might just make you think about all that other stuff that you could have, but that you’d have forgotten about eventually.
It’s hard to balance contentment with striving for a far-off goal. Interestingly, spending a lot of time looking at dream houses on Pinterest only made me feel more discontented with what I already had, because I could see too much of what I wanted and not what I needed… and most importantly, it was something I couldn’t reasonably attain.Click To Tweet
3 – Talk about your goals and problems
Talk about your goals and your feelings of frustration with someone else. If you don’t have a partner or family member to share your journey with, this can be hard to do, but trust me, there are people out there who are doing the same thing: fighting to reach their financial goals. You’re already in the right place on this blog!
Use the comments section below to let me know what your goals are and whether you’re getting fed up or not. We all need some encouragement from time to time.Talk about your savings goals with a friend or online community to help you keep focus! Click To Tweet
Over to you:
I hope my three things to help you stick to your savings goal actually help to motivate you. Feel free to share your own tips for keeping focus in a long-term financial project in the comments below!