Why Is Saving So HARD?

Why is saving so hard? That’s a question so many of us ask. And it gets asked..A LOT!

Most of us make an income that permits us to save…yes, most of us can save without choosing between saving and putting food on the table.

So why don’t we?

Because we don’t care about it enough. 

We don’t see the benefits of saving (until we find ourselves in a bind and chastise ourselves for not having saved…which is wasted energy that point).

Instead, we throw away the opportunity because:

  • We choose stuff and entertainment over offering ourselves financial security. 
  • We choose to shackle ourselves with monthly payments for a home that’s bigger than we need, car(s), credit card payments, student loans, etc., all of which leaves us with little unclaimed disposable income.
  • We choose to party now and pay later…especially on pay day.
  • We think saving is a form of punishment that prevents us from doing and having what we want.

Because spending doesn’t hurt enough.

We think we deserve to have a “little fun”…and then we're left with the spending hangover. We start regretting the stupid spending, though we often don’t admit it. It feels crumby. We feel foolish, out of control. 

Then, the hair of the dog: we spend a little more to distract ourselves and make ourselves feel better. 

Shampoo. Wash. Repeat.

Because it’s what we think we’re supposed to do.

[C]onsumerism as a way of life is so ingrained it’s hard to recognize within us and around us. It is, in the now-famous words of George Orwell, ‘the air we breathe.’
— Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American (1998), p. 24.

It’s a sick cycle. And many of us never learn, which I was reminded of this month as my niece, a loans officer, recounted stories of 55+ people with good salaries and no net worth to speak of coming to see her to get more credit. I just shudder at the thought.

We need to flip the script.

Lack of desire, like desire, is also a social construct.
— Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American (1998), p. 27.

Here’s the deal: saying to ourselves “STOP SPENDING SO MUCH!” is the wrong way to address the issue. We need to stop thinking that saving is hard and spending is easy. It has to be the other way around. 

Saving is easy:

Simple living is not mainly about spending less, but about living differently.
— Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American (1998), p. 142.
Downshifters vs simple livers… the first is about quality of life and the second is about finding the sufficiency level of spending.
— Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American (1998), p. 137.
  • All it requires is putting money aside — A little or a lot, it’s the same decision.
  • It feels good (I’ve never had a saving hangover).
  • We always have something to show for it.
  • It makes us feel bada** to know we could have anything we want, but don't want much because having a nest egg feels so good!

Spending is hard:

[We] live with high levels of denial about their spending patterns.
— Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American (1998), p. 83.
Among those who said they would like to live a simpler life, debt outpaced all other reasons as the main barrier to doing so.
— Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American (1998), p. 74.
  • The more we buy, the more we want.
  • The more we buy, the more likely we are to experience buyer’s remorse.
  • The more we buy, the harder it is to buy less.
  • We lose sleep because we keep running up a total in our minds, not sure we can make it to the end of the month.
  • We juggle balance transfers when our spending gets a little crazier than usual.
  • We jump through the hoops for financing to keep getting bigger, better, badder versions of what we have and what we want. Upgrades anyone?
  • We have to spend hours consuming.
  • We have to spend countless hours managing and maintaining the stuff we buy.
  • We constantly have to mind the bills and the budget.
  • We have to make tradeoff decisions, prioritize our spending because we want so much.
  • We have to work more hours to maintain a certain "lifestyle".

I don't know about you but I’d rather take the easy road. Saving is SOOOOO much easier than the headaches that come with spending. 

Besides, it’s less trouble, and I’m lazy.

Image credit/copyright: hin255/freedigitalphotos.net

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