I have a confession to make. Despite working full-time for the past decade, by the end of 2018 I had no savings. It’s not that I hadn’t tried saving. I had committed to saving money so many times, only to disappoint myself a few months later. I would find more and more reasons I needed my money right now. Eventually, I would withdraw my minor savings and splash out on a new phone or for a vacation.
The thing is, I would never have admitted this to anyone, and I’m far from alone in this. When I eventually confided to my friends that I had no savings, many of them told me they’d been hiding the truth about their savings as well. It turns out that saving money is incredibly difficult, even though most people act as though they have all their financial ducks in a row.
It is human nature to sabotage our savings, and there are several reasons for this. By understanding this, you can begin to save with greater conviction. Take a look at the best online savings accounts recommendations. Then, once you’ve found the perfect account for your needs, consider the following.
Unlearn your childhood lessons
Very few people grow up in environments which foster a positive relationship with money. I grew up in a home in which we were always living on the financial edge. Money was something to chase frantically and use in a similar way. My parents put their poor financial situation down to bad luck, instead of making an effort to change the way they were using their money. It’s no wonder I took on the belief that I had no real control over my ability to increase my wealth.
It’s not only unstable environments in which children create a negative relationship with money. Friends of mine who grew up with wealth struggle to even think about budgeting, even if they’re trying to make it on their own. In their homes, budgeting and saving was something poor people did.
I do know people who naturally have a positive relationship with money, but they are like unicorns. Most of us have to actively unlearn the lessons we implicitly learned as children. We need to identity how we relate to money and why. Then, when we start sabotaging our savings plans, we can see exactly why we’re doing so and put a stop to it.
These days, when I consider contributing less to my savings account, I recognize that it is because, when money is tight, I feel like I have no control over it. It is easier to put that down to luck than to continue along a path I have no guarantee will pay dividends.
Identify your financially toxic relationships
But it’s not just your relationship with money that has to come under scrutiny. You need to take a good hard look at your relationships with friends and family members. In most relationships, we compare our financial situations. With some friends, we feel the need to keep up a facade of wealth. With others, we feel the need to play down our comparative wealth. With family, we often feel like we have to act like we are in control of our finances no matter what.
This is going to be the case no matter how hard you try. However, some relationships are simply toxic for your financial health. If you’re constantly trying to keep up with a friend who flaunts and boasts about their wealth, you are inevitably going to make some poor choices. If you are constantly concerned about your family seeing you as financially stable, you will never feel comfortable asking for help, even when you need it.
What you do with these relationships is up to you. Some relationships are all about the money, and are not worth it. But with most relationships, you just need to tweak a few things. Start recognizing when you get triggered by things they say or do, and fight the urge to act on the feelings. Acknowledge that you feel uncomfortable, but get on with your life, not sabotaging yourself on account of others.