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Several years ago, I had the pleasure of presenting a budgeting workshop for a great group of people at my old company. There were lots of good questions. However, one, in particular, kept me thinking after I left. In hindsight, I wished I’d answered it better.
So here goes. The question was: “Spending is really fun. How do you make budgeting fun?”
Of course, the question isn’t really about the act of making a budget, but more about the act of controlling spending, with an eye toward increasing saving. In other words, how do you make saving fun?
The fact that spending is fun is among the reasons, so many American’s save so little.
The Federal Reserve reports the average American is currently saving around 7 percent of their after tax income.
If that were your savings rate, it would take you more than 14 years to save a single year’s worth of your income, making it a challenge to retire with your current lifestyle.
So, how do you make saving fun?
My answer at the time was to use myself as an example. I declared how I loved seeing my savings going up in value, which made me sound like the nerdy bean counter I am.
What I left out was why that made me happy.
It made me happy because, with every rise in the value of our savings, the closer my husband, Jeff, and I came to realize our goal of leaving work in our 50’s. I knew we were getting closer because we had very specific financial goals.
As it turns out, achieving goals is a direct path to happiness.
Psychological research shows “the successful pursuit of meaningful goals plays an important role in the development and maintenance of our psychological well-being.”
In addition, the achievement of goals is a self-reinforcing motivator. The more progress we make on our goals, the more we’re motivated to take more actions that help move us further toward what we desire.