An old poster for V energy drink carried the headline: Advertising = Hey You + Buy This. It’s not a bad summary of a lot of advertising, really. We are constantly presented with messages encouraging us to spend money, and it’s remarkable how often they work. It’s not that spending money is inherently bad, of course. It’s just that we often spend it in ways we don’t intend to.
In order to reach our financial goals, we need to start saying no to unplanned spending more often… and doing this effectively means saying a much bigger yes to something else. That’s exactly what we do when we get married, for instance: choose to say yes to someone so much that we determine to say no to others thereafter. The more powerful our yes, the more easy our no becomes. (Incidentally, when people cheat, it’s often because they stopped saying yes to their partner, rather than stopped saying no to alternatives).
Know what your yes looks like
In financial terms, clearly defined savings goals remind you what you’re saying a big yes to. Save a picture which represents your goal, and put it somewhere prominent like your desktop, or save it as your mobile wallpaper. It’s far more effective to spend your time focused on what you do want than what you don’t want, because being focused on your no means you run the risk of ‘target fixation’ – the phenomena where drivers (and toddlers on motorbikes) often get so focused on what they’re trying to avoid that they end up hitting it instead.
Better for you, better for the world
Can you imagine what the world would look like if we said yes to spending on the things that really mattered to us, and by default saying no to spending on unnecessary and unimportant things? We’d still keep the economy moving, and people productively employed, because we wouldn’t be reducing spending – just shifting it. Doing so would not only help us, but the environment too, because it would invariably mean less wasteful consumption – we’d end up with less throwaway things and instead have more things which last, the things we’d decided we really wanted and were willing to save for (including memories of experiences, which are some of the best ‘things’).
So this weekend, when the world around you is saying ‘spend now’, don’t focus on your no – just start saying a bigger yes to your goals instead. Then, hang tight… because very soon, we’ll be launching a tool which makes that process a whole lot easier for everyone. Sign up now via the form below to stay in the loop!