Here's One Good Financial Reason Why You Shouldn't Live in the Present

When I look around, when I think through all the people I know it seems like there are two kinds of people in this world: people made to save, and people made to spend.

The savers seem to accumulate money like it really does grow on trees. They can make a dollar last longer than I would have ever thought possible, and they can cover any number of financial emergencies because they're always prepared.

The spenders, on the other hand, seem to never have any money, even if they have a significant income. They often own a ton of stuff, but they don't have a solid idea of where it came from or why they bought it. And they're often afraid for their future and frustrated that they don't have anything set aside for a rainy day.

Whether you're a spender or a saver, I have good news for you: There's a pretty easy way to improve your ability to save. If you're a saver, this will make you even more efficient. And if you're a spender, it might help you turn some things around.

Focus on the Future

Researchers have found that focusing on the future helps people save more money, by curbing impulse purchases and limiting the effects of materialism. This doesn't mean just thinking about the future once in awhile, but developing a vivid, detailed picture of what you'd like your future to look like. Then reminding yourself of that picture often, and allowing that picture to influence how you live. This works because saved money is money for the future. Unless you have a very real idea of what you want your future to look like, saving can feel meaningless. After all, why put money aside for some vague reason when you could spend it now and enjoy what you buy?

When you focus on the future, you know exactly why you are setting money aside. You know what you want, and so you have some specific motivations to go after it. This helps your brain understand exactly why you are saving and keeps you motivated towards your goals.

Not sure how to develop this technique for use in everyday life? Here are some ideas.

Find Your Goal

What would you like to be saving towards right now? A house? A car? Retirement? Whatever your goals are, narrow them down. If you need to put money into an emergency fund, think about what you might use that for (medical emergencies, vehicle repairs, sudden job loss, etc.). Be as specific as you can be in naming your goals.

Write or Draw

After you know what you're going after, make that image as concrete as possible by writing about it or even drawing a picture of yourself enjoying it. Think about the details you'd like to have in your house — crown molding, barn doors, a large patio, whatever. Or consider where you'd like to retire and actually picture yourself there, enjoying it. You can even imagine yourself walking away from an emergency just grateful that it's over, rather than worrying about the financial ramifications.

The important part is that you get your goal down on paper in whatever way works for you. Spend some time on this, adding details that make it feel real and enticing.

Carry a Reminder

If you struggle with compulsive spending, carry some sort of reminder with you. If you're saving for a tropical vacation, maybe hold onto a picture of palm trees. Whatever you keep with you, make sure that it holds that vivid image that you came up with, above. Then, when you want to spend, take out your picture/item/whatever and look at it. Take a few seconds to focus on your image before you decide whether or not to make an unplanned purchase.

Revisit Your Goal

While making the goal in the first place is important, revisiting it will help it stick in your mind and feel more real. And, the more attainable that future becomes to you, the more likely you will be to save money in order to reach it.

Go back often and look at your picture or read what you wrote. Spend some time journaling about it, writing down more details, and dwelling on your feelings. Think about how good it would feel to be you, living that life. Let the relief, joy, excitement, confidence, or whatever wash over you again and again and again.

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Here's One Good Financial Reason Why You Shouldn't Live in the Present

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