It’s easy to learn about saving money. You can find books, blogs, podcasts, courses, TED talks, and well-intentioned people offering advice at every turn. And yet, despite all of this access to information, it can still be so hard to save money. Why?
Modern Life Makes It Hard to Save Money
Modern life, especially modern American life, makes it hard to save money. It’s important that you understand this. So many people blame themselves for their failure to save. After all, if you know how to budget, invest, and earn money, then you “should” be able to save money right? Yes, in theory. But there are so many bigger forces at play. Here are just two of them:
Consumerism and Advertising Are Challenging to Overcome
Consumerism dominates our society. We may have every intention of the world of not buying things. And yet, we are constantly bombarded with suggestions of things to buy. Advertising isn’t just on commercials and billboards anymore; it’s all over our devices which we use so many minutes of every day. Of course it’s hard not to think we need to buy things!
And it’s often sneaky. Just think about how many articles are out there telling us that we need to worry about self-care or improving our relationships. On the surface, that’s not about buying things at all. And yet, there’s often some angle about the ways in which we need to spend money to do that. Of course it’s hard to save money in the face of all of this.
If you’re not familiar with this term, planned obsolescence simply means that things are designed to break over time. It’s particularly a problem in the tech industry, but it happens elsewhere as well. Just think about it – how long do you realistically expect to be able to continue using your phone, computer, microwave oven, or even your car?
Planned obsolescence is a bit of a sinister thing, suggesting that companies make things purposely so that they break and you have to buy replacements. But even when that’s not the case, most things today aren’t made to last. I know someone who only buys vintage kitchen gadgets (coffee makers, for example) because if you find a good old one then it’s likely to last longer than one that you buy off of the shelf today.
Moreover things that used to be repaired aren’t as easily repaired anymore. For example, if your sewing machine breaks, can you take it to a sewing machine repair person? Usually it’s not even cost effective to do so.
Your Personal Psychology Might Be At Play
So, be gentle with yourself. There are a lot of big forces in the world that make it really hard to save money.
But yes, there might be something going on with you that contributes to the problem. You know what, though? That might also not be something to blame yourself for. You see, it’s probably not that you’re lazy or dumb or “bad with money” or any of the other harsh things that your inner critic tells yourself. Instead, there could be complex money psychology going on that impacts your ability to make good financial decisions.
What Does Money Mean To You?
Money means more than just money to most of us. Due to the messages we received in childhood as well as ongoing messages about society, money (spending, saving, earning, sharing) might mean:
- Love or the withholding of it
- Personal worth or value
- Security or lack thereof
And so many more things. Therefore, if you find it hard to save money, then it might not be about the financial logistics at all. It might be that there are other forces at play underneath. Working through your underlying beliefs about money (perhaps even with a therapist) could eventually make it easier for you to learn how to save money in a way that works for you.
If It’s So Hard, Then Why Learn How to Save Money?
So why bother? If society and psychology both make it so hard to save money then why even try? Because despite how hard it can be, you can do it. The more you learn about these different forces at play, the easier it will become to loosen their grip on you. And when you do that, it can feel so good.
Of course, it’s also important to keep learning the practical things. Learn about budgeting. Learn about ways to reduce bills. Being able to knock some very specific action items off of your list will empower you as you take the longer journey to the depths of truly saving money.
- 5 Ways to Better Understand Your Money Psychology
- 5 Reasons Why Obsession With Money Can Destroy Your Life
- Money Management Strategies That Can Help You Spend Less and Save More
Kathryn Vercillo is a professional writer with more than a decade of experience writing about healthy living and personal finance. She lives in San Francisco, where she has learned to maximize frugal living tips in order to thrive as a freelancer in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring the city on foot with her rescue dog. Learn more about her at www.kathrynvercillo.com. Kathryn also writes about saving money with coupons over at GroceryCouponGuide.com .