So why is it so hard?
According to Ellen Rogin and Lisa Kueng, authors of “Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality,” it’s because saving money can feel like losing money.
“When you start a savings plan — even if it’s for a very exciting reason, like a Hawaii trip — it can feel like you’re losing money,” Rogin and Kueng write. “And we all hate to lose money.”
But, the authors say, you can turn your thinking around with a simple mental trick.
“Picture Your Prosperity” cites a public opinion survey that asked one group of people if they thought they could save 20% of their income. Only half the group said yes.
The second group of people were asked if they thought they could live on 80% of their income — the same question, just phrased differently. This time, nearly 80% of those surveyed said yes.
The authors don’t explicity recommend saving 20%. They recommend saving in general terms, but the exact amount depends on your personal situation.
Here’s how Rogin and Kueng interpret the study’s results. They write:
These results don’t make any logical sense. But it makes intuitive sense because of the way many of us view money. To redirect 20% of your cash flow into savings somehow feels as though you’re losing it.
Living on 80% of your income may be an initial adjustment, but ultimately doesn’t seem so much like a loss — it’s simply what is available, and focuses on what you do have, not on what you don’t have.
Focusing on the money you have over the money you don’t seems obvious — and easier said than done.
One trick to make this easier is to automate your savings. A quick phone call or visit to your bank’s website can usually arrange a transfer of your chosen amount of money from your checking account to savings the day your paycheck hits.
Out of sight, out of mind.