Why Saving Is Natural To Some And Not To Others

I believe this topic will touch the heartstrings of many people, especially those of my age(21). We all have that few friends who never seem to be able to save. This caused me to ponder about why it’s natural for some to save and others find it a challenge.

Reflecting, I realise that this has quite a bit to do with (1)Habit, (2)Lifestyle, and (3)Ability to put off temptation.

Habit

Habit is one of the easiest trick to inculcate, either by self-discipline or under the supervision of others. When it comes to saving money, I realised that my parents have done a great job at inculcating it in me. It’s not a fool-proof plan, but it worked for me. So parents out there, and a reminder to myself when I have children in the future, start early. It’s always been emphasised to start early because that’s when children are most susceptible to learning! Whatever you say, they do. Strike while the iron is hot! Don’t wait till the iron is cooled down already then you try to mould it, it’s just not worth the procrastination. Because their lifestyle would have changed and everything would cost them more.

Personally, my savings habit began only in Secondary school, when I started receiving weekly allowance. I had to learn how to ration my allowance through the week, so this resulted in planning how much I allowed myself to spend each day. Initially I would receive just enough allowance, approximately $25/week? Then my father brought in the lessons on savings and decided to give me $50/week from then on. Having been used to spending $25/week, my lifestyle was fixed at that rate. This meant that I typically had $20-$25 of savings per week since I didn’t know what to spend on. Till now, this habit follows me. First I gauge how much I would spend in a new environment(During internship), then I do a mental calculation of how much I should be saving each week on average. Once you get used to spending a certain amount, just stick to it! That’s when savings can begin!

Lifestyle

Lifestyle is another factor why many will find difficulty in saving. We all have different groups of friends, some who always spends, some who are your chilling buddies, etc. Depending on your lifestyle, the amount you spend and the amount you get to save varies. Eventually, we all have a lifestyle that we are more comfortable with. For me, I like to chill without spending too much rather than spend lavishly. So it’s naturally easier for me. For those who like to party or lead a more expensive lifestyle, it’s not wrong, but if you can’t keep up with the expenses, consider cutting it down. Remember, it’s a habit how much you spend and habits can be changed. It’s always hardest at the beginning.

Ability to put off temptation

I suppose this is one of the hardest skill to acquire. To put off temptation is to deny yourself of a feeling of joy! Why would anyone want to do that! It sounds silly, but without the ability to put off temptation, you also lose the ability to control your finances. You want something, yet you know it’s not good for you. If you don’t take time to think rationally whether you need something or not, chances are, you’re going to spend your money away.

I’m pretty thankful that I never find myself in a need for something too often. I seem to be happy with what I have and usually rationalise my purchases before actually buying it. My large expenses usually only come at the end of the year, as a christmas gift to myself. (It sounds sad, I know haha!) I always take it as a reward for myself and to motivate myself for getting through the year and to look forward to the new year ahead. For example, for my Christmas present in 2014, I got myself a nice watch that I still wear now. Then in 2015, I bought myself a kindle, only after 3 months of thinking if I should get it. I resisted the temptation for 3 months, not that I couldn’t afford then, but I was rationalising my purchase.

I think to improve on the ability to resist temptation has to begin with the small things, where it’s the hardest because everything is still easily affordable. If you can afford it, why resist the temptation right? However, I feel that the more easily affordable the item is, the better the opportunity to resist the temptation, because it’s the hardest. This trained me up slowly and gradually and you can too! Perhaps resist the temptation to buy Koi/Gongcha when you walk pass it, if you drink it way too often. Find an inexpensive yet unhealthy habit you’re engaged in and try out this experiment. See how long you can fight off the temptation, and keep trying! Everytime you fail, try again. (Consider reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg to understand about the habit loop)

Let me know if you try this experiment and how it goes!

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6 thoughts on “Why Saving Is Natural To Some And Not To Others

  1. Hi Aloy! Happened to stumble upon your blog.

    Your post is well thought out. However I’d say that the points you mentioned falls under what I’d call “Mindset” and this can be nurtured by our parents and how we are moulded intrinsically or extrinsically by our interaction with the outside world (aka society). I like ASSI AK‘s blog because he does have quite abit of Philosophy rather than technical/fundamental investing thoughts. Philosophy forms our foundation in life.

    A brief look at your blog and I must say you’re considered a “pro” in my eyes. I’m 26 this year and I have only started to learn how to better manage my money and invest. Although people say “better late than never”, there’re opportunities that were wasted.

    I’m a newbie in the world of finance and investing. I am envious of your age and knowledge haha. I will follow your blog and try to learn more things from you.

    I think your mindset is good and you’ll definitely reach your goals one day 🙂 Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Felix! Thanks for taking time to drop a comment, I really appreciate it! 😊
      Oh yes you’re right, I missed that one out! Our mindset or attitude towards money is definitely one of the factor why saving is hard for some! Oh yes, I enjoy ASSI’s blogposts as well, there’s always something to learn from his blog!
      Haha far from pro, but I do hope to professionally manage a fund one day! Working towards it step by step!
      Yesyes! It’s better late than never! 26 is definitely better than starting at 35 or 45! The next best time to begin is NOW!
      Haha I was lucky to have been able to study financial trading during my polytechnic days thus fueling my interest. If you have any questions feel free to correspond with me via email! I can be reached at Aloysius.LBD@gmail.com

      All the best in this exciting journey you’re embarking on! 🙂

      Like

  2. Hi Aloypro,
    You are right, it’s all mind over matter. Or as I call it manage your biases.
    I believe the ‘skill’ of delayed gratification combined with an ‘automated savings system’ in the broad based stock market is the best path to wealth creation. The automation (= Regular Savings Plan) relieves us from deciding over and over again how much to save right now, which is tough due to our human nature we do suffer from loss aversion and so many other emotional biases trying to trick us into consumption and over-spending.
    You are on the right track.

    Like

    1. Hi Tacomob,
      Yes, delayed gratification is the word I was looking for! Indeed, making savings automated reduces a lot of hassle regarding how much to save, etc. I will look into having sub-accounts from my bank when my income increases! Perhaps when I have multiple goals, I might actually get started on it sooner than I expect!

      Like

    2. Hi Tacomob,

      Yes I’ve seen it getting more popular with people Dollar Cost Averaging into index funds and other exchange traded funds. It seems like Singapore is starting to have more options (or companies find ways to charge fees haha but it still benefits us :P) like POSB, OCBC, POEMS and recently Maybank KE. POSB Invest Saver seems like a safe choice especially because almost every Singaporean has a POSB/DBS savings account and application is fuss free, more so when compared to the other Banks. Do you have a preference on which you use? Or related to your total regular investment amount and use the one with lowest fees?

      I am 26 and have only recently started learning about financial planning. So I decided to use a regular savings plan to have a worry free long term investment plan until I have attained enough knowledge to do stock picking.

      Very nice website you have there! Shall visit and learn from you as well.

      Like

      1. Hi Felix,

        I personally have set-up a Junior Share Builders Plan with POEMS by bundling all the targeted contributions for my three kids in one plan to save a bit on fees. POEMS has a minimum of S$100 per month. I find it more meaningful though to go for amounts above S$300 per month so that the fees (S$6) do not eat up too big a portion of your investment amount. And I chose for dividends to be re-invested to boost the compounding effect.

        Blog moneysmart recently had a good comparison of what banks offer:
        http://blog.moneysmart.sg/invest/posb-ocbc-poems-maybank-kim-eng-which-regular-savings-plan-to-use/

        And thank you, Felix, for your compliments on my website.

        Like

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