More often than not, it’s always the disciplined people who achieve a lot of things.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, always announces his annual New Year’s Resolutions publicly and guess what? He manages to keep his resolutions, every single year.
Sylvia Plath, the award-winning author of the book The Bell Jar, made sure to wake up early every morning before her kids can wake up. She managed to finish all the poems of Ariel just a few months later, by solely writing in the morning.
Another famous author, Haruki Murakami, who wrote Norwegian Wood, would get up at 4AM and write for five to six hours every single day.
Even Benjamin Franklin, widely considered to be the founding factor of America, had a fairly well-known routine: three hours of meditative work, in which he also plans the rest of his day for maximum productivity.
What do we learn from this? That successful people, in one way or another, have always achieved more by being disciplined.
Here are five ways how discipline can help you save money.
Make saving a habit
Just like all the people mentioned above, if we want to achieve our maximum productivity, it’s very important to foster habits that will support our goals.
One thing I learned from Charles Duhigg, author of one of my favorite self-help books, The Power of Habit, is that habits are powerful little things that can make or break us, depending on whether they’re positive or negative. Habits consist of three little things: a cue, a routine, and a reward. The cue signals the time to do the routine, and the reward– at least for positive habits– is the feeling of satisfaction we get after doing it.
When it comes to saving (especially when you’re living paycheck to paycheck!), it’s also very beneficial to make it ‘automatic’. Basically, by making saving a habit, we’re ingraining into our minds that it’s something that should be doing naturally, essentially automating the act in our daily lives.
Here’s one small experiment: try saving a small amount of money every day to build up a habit. It could be just $1 a day– it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you keep doing this for the next… say, 28 days. After 28 days, assess yourself. Does that -$1 still feel like a ‘minus’ to your daily budget? Or does it feel so normal now that it’s starting to feel weird already if you skip a day?
With enough discipline and proper reinforcement, making saving a habit makes it a lot easier for us to avoid pulling out cash from our wallets or withdrawing from our bank accounts for a silly impulse purchase.
Save before you spend
If you still don’t trust yourself to be disciplined enough not to give in to temptation, then perhaps you should consider exercising your discipline right when it hurts the least: when you’re not yet in front of a new pair of jeans, or a newly-opened restaurant in the area, or a newly launched gaming console.
Practice treating your saving as an expense from now on. In fact, treat it like a monthly bill, just like how you’d treat your credit card bills or your electricity bill. Of course, like your other bills, you have to make sure that it gets paid regularly, right? Unless you’re willing to create more income streams (but to be honest, you should), then you should start considering your saving as a monthly expense from now on.
Do the envelope method
I talked about the envelope method in this past and how it can help with budgeting, but did you know that it can help with saving too?
To say it simply, if the envelope can help with budgeting money, it can also help you allocate some of that money for saving.
Be disciplined enough not to touch the money inside the savings envelope, except for emergencies.
Prioritize your spending
It’s practically impossible to not spend anything. You know those ‘No-Spend November’ challenges? I admire people who actually do them since it’s really hard to stay frugal with all these temptations around us.
Regardless of how frugal you may be, you’re going to have to spend on something, in one way or another. Money is needed in order to warm (or cool) your house, to ensure that your home has lights and water, and to put food on the table. It’s already a given that you’re going to have bills every month.
If you want to save money though, you should try to see where exactly your money is going every month. What percentage of your income goes to your food? What percentage goes to your gas? What about your utilities?
Have enough discipline to start prioritizing your spending so that you can focus more on the important things. That includes your monthly bills, daily expenses, and your savings. The rest can go to whatever you want. Surprised? Yes, the rest can go to whatever you want, because you do deserve to enjoy life too!
Wait before buying
Okay, so now you’ve finally saved enough. You’ve been very diligent in paying all your bills on time, including your credit card bills, and you’ve been regularly adding to your retirement funds.
Before you buy that new shiny thing, wait.
Yes, yes, I know you can afford to buy it. You’ve been very disciplined up until this point, after all. And yes, I know that you deserve it too. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy it.
Well, maybe there is one.
For every purchase above $100, try waiting for a few days first before you make your purchase. For every $100 additional, add 3 more days to that waiting period. Why? Because sometimes, when we see something we want, our brains light up and we just want to get it ASAP. When those moments happen, all thought goes out the window and we immediately turn into a shopping zombie.
That’s where discipline comes in. I’ve told the story of how I once ended up buying over $200 worth of Korean beauty and skincare products in one transaction because of impulse buying. I never want that to happen again.
Wait for a few days before making a big purchase and take your time thinking about it. If after a week or two and you still feel the need to buy it, only then should you do so.
The power of discipline
Discipline is something that needs to be trained. It’s not normal, it’s not inherent in all of us. It’s something that we need to foster until it’s strong enough to work for us, not for the world around.
Do you have any interesting stories regarding discipline? Feel free to share them below!
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