There's no two ways about it – saving money takes discipline. Sometimes, when you're out with your friends and having a good time, it can take all the will power you can muster not to pull out a wad of cash or start throwing around your credit card like there's no tomorrow.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can use to improve your self-control and stop yourself from overspending – be it at the bar, the mall, or on your favourite online shopping website.
Saving up for a new car or a big holiday overseas? Then you might want to pull out those yoga balls, light a few scented candles and find your Zen, because meditation can actually help improve your will power and sense of self-control!
According to Kelly McGonigal – author of The Willpower Instinct – meditation can help improve blood flow to your prefrontal cortex and boost your ability to concentrate and focus. No wonder those Tibetan monks are so disciplined.
If you have a pet running around the home, you probably know a little bit about conditioning. Basically, this psychology concept involves encouraging or discouraging certain habits by ensuring they are rewarded or punished accordingly.
With animals, we can use conditioning to relate a particular stimulus with a certain event. For example, by ringing a bell every time you feed your cat, you can begin to associate the sound of a bell with dinner time. Soon enough, your cat will come running every time you ring.
The next time you go out with friends, ask one of them to give you a gentle flick on the ear every time you reach for your wallet. Soon enough, you'll be more than happy to leave that credit card in your pocket!
Get more sleep
Usually sleeping in would be considered the opposite of self-control, but guess what? Scientists say hitting the snooze button every now and then might actually help improve your will power.
Remember how we were talking about the prefrontal cortex before? Well, depriving yourself of enough sleep can actually impair blood flow to this part of the brain and reduce your ability to focus properly. So there you have it – finally, a good excuse to sleep in on a Sunday!
Have a snack
Our last tip for improving your will power and taking control of your spending habits is probably the easiest one to follow – have a light snack or two.
As silly as it sounds, the mental strain of self-control actually draws on your glucose reserves. That's why you can sometimes feel exhausted after resisting the urge to eat that extra slice of birthday cake or holding in an angry outburst when your temper is flaring.
Healthy, low-sugar, high glucose snacks such as fruits and grains can restore your energy and make it easier to resist temptations. Cool, right?
Do you have any other tips for boosting your will power?