How to stay motivated to save?

Updated 16 Oct 2016

Most people find it hard to stay motivated with good financial habits. Be it due to shopaholic syndrome, too much debt burden or they aren't that interested in saving at the first place.

For me, it was the inexistence of financial commitments that makes me splurge and suddenly, I have a credit card debt to clear. Sometimes, I think a little asset is what I can do. It was an easy snap to save 5k, then I saved 10k, then 20k, then 30k, and I realize it's so hard to go on, I can't make another 30k, I just want to quit trying.

But if I quit, I'll go back to where I came from, and where I come from, desperately want to be where I am today.

Financial success is an ongoing mission.

And here are four methods to keep yourself financially disciplined.

1. Set a higher target

If you are looking to save only a few years of your living expenses or clearing off your debt- very soon there will be no more motivation to save. Set a new - higher target as you reach your goals. This is the most important thing that keeps you moving. It took me a while to realize that the reason I don't feel the pinch fork out RM200 after RM200 on a dress after hitting my initial saving plan is because I did not set a new saving goal. Mistake No1. 

Once you reach where you are - aim higher. If you reach 50k, go for the next 50k. Just don't get dishonest money because once you turn, you will not be able to get back. I know that because once a director of a public listed company offers me dishonest money. But you see, it's not like he needs any extra money anymore, it's pure greed.

My daily reminder: When the going gets tough, aim higher.

2. Remind yourself of the end point

Visualize what happens when you save or spend.

You can use a simple reminder like an RM1 saved is worth RM5-10 in ten years time if you invest it.

Or only buy things that cost RM1 or less per usage. So Levi’s jeans that cost RM220 should last you 220 wears. I am a fan for the past 5 years and yes, they do last that long.

You know, it really takes more than $700k to live a good lifestyle after retirement. I know, it sucks and I wish we have a sharing app for old age care one day.

3. Put the money away

Lock the money in income generating assets or at least a higher interest FD. Chances are you will have the money for a longer term if you put the amount into not-so-easily accessible place.

If you like to move your money around, it usually means bank fees and that’s not good. Build the habit of patience by placing an FD for 6 months - taking it out in a month would mean a penalty of the month’s interest and that would set your back to wait patiently. Or buy a share and let a rule not to sell until you get 2 dividend payments.

4. Get encouraged 

Not everyone will agree how you spend - in fact, many people would probably disagree with you being frugal or minimalist. Sometimes people will also disagree with your splurge on things when they also buy other expensive stuff. They might not say it but their body language will tell and you will feel it.

I hired the hourly housekeeper and she can tell me off my face that my house is too simple - aka poor? I mean - I hire her for RM10/hour and she’s telling me I am poor because I don’t have a lot of stuff? Well, at least she was honest.

Thank God, we get to choose our friends these days. So surround yourself with people or web community that supports your financial goals - especially if it’s about spending less or optimize what you have. Having less wants is a good vibe in life.

Do you have the final financial goals for Q4? Tell me about it and let’s end 2016 together with a big bang!