In some of the earlier posts I have mentioned how my job allows me the luxury of consumer research. Some times that research gleans an insight into some key human behaviors and traits. Yesterday was one such day for me
In the research for a new product/service that I would work on the marketing for, we were asking people about how they save. What does money mean to them? Another key question was the role of multiple bank accounts in their lives.
One reaction and one section of the study that really stuck out for me in the entre interaction was when the group resonated one thought – we need help with saving for our goals. Every time we think – we will take a holiday, we will buy that but in the end when that doesn’t happen. We feel disappointed and also hate giving that feeling to our family to whom we are responsible.
These sentiments were echoed across the group. Goal based planning and investing is a key component of financial planning. I began to wonder why is it that we are unable to save for our goals, for the reason that we work so hard to earn money. It is a cycle where we think of some goals, do not achieve them and feel disappointed. If repeated enough times, we often end up not setting any goals at all.
Why is it that despite admitting to just how important financial goals are in our life, we are still unable to achieve them?
In my view some of the reasons and remedies for that are:
- We are habituated to a tunnel vision
As humans we have a tendency to think, want or plan for the short-term. We mull over small things that in hindsight might be pretty petty. Hell, even after almost 4 months of blogging I still scramble at the last minute thrice a week before each blog post.
Every reader who has hated the typical job question – “where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?” give me an aye! But now I understand it shows character and vision.
So, if you are serious about your money, ask yourself what is your ideal life? Is it about living paycheck to paychek with most of it pouring into EMIs or do you want to be free from money worries? That freedom requires long-term planning and does not come easy. But, is it worth it? You bet it is.
- Headless chicken syndrome
We all know the basic rule of personal finance – save atleast x% of your income. x? x because different experts put the number for x between 5 and 50.
However, why save? What are you saving for is much more important than how much you are saving. Your what defines your how and also the probability of success.
Think ahead about the life you want, make concrete goals and use your money to create it.
- We get overwhelmed by the big picture
Looking at the big pictures is important. In fact it’s an art to look at it when things go wrong to realize just how little of your life is being impacted by it.
However, the big picture is a double-edged sword. How many times have the numbers behind our dreams scared us into inaction? What we fail to realize is that the 8th wonder of compounding can help us chop our dream numbers into smaller palatable chunks.
The other day a friend was talking to me about how life in Mumbai is a struggle and they (she and her husband) barely end up saving. She talked about how she wanted to buy a house but the down payment was a worry. I told her to look at it as a long term plan and start putting aside some money and it could grow to the figure in her mind. It sure looked like a eureka moment for her.
- We succumb to temptation
Spending money is usually to buy things or delightful experiences. It is bound to provide us with instant gratification. On the other hand we rarely see the benefits of saving during the process. While we start with the best of intentions, beyond a point we decide to give in just once to a guilty spending pleasure which is the start of saving doom. It is really a basic human tendency.
So, what can we do to save us from ourselves?
Enough research studies have proved that automation of savings have proven to be highly successful. Invest in a SIP or if you are still scared of the markets at least in a RD, to begin with. Fund these accounts through monthly debits from your salary account. It might pinch initially but your savings will be locked safely.
- We forget why we started
For a lot of long-term goals, sustaining the enthusiasm and the will to forego the pleasures of instant gratification in favor of preparation for the future is not easy. However a constant visual reminder of the goal can help the brain to imagine the pleasure that achievement will provide.
So, if you are saving for a world tour, take time out to make a collage of some of your favorite destinations, print it out and pin it to your workstation. If you are saving for your child’s graduate course, put a photo of your child and photoshop the graduation hat. Use this photo as a fridge magnet.
Surround yourself with enough visual reminders of why you are saving and your chances of staying the course are bound to be that much higher.
We all want to be the best versions of ourselves. We’re also hindered from realizing this version by ourselves. Just a few small smart acts and we can go ahead and create the life we want.
Are you ready to envision, plan and create your dream life? Do let me know your opinion in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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