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Get Motivated—Reach Your Money Goals

In our new series with psychologist Heidi Beckman, we'll explore ways to save more and spend less by using willpower, persistence and impulse control. In part two, we'll highlight two ways to boost your savings motivation into high gear.

1. Align Your Goals & Values – Your values represent the principles and beliefs that are most important to you. If your money goals and values are in alignment, you'll have more energy and enthusiasm to pursue your goals. If they're inconsistent, it will be harder to manage the competing priorities that arise. For example, if you decide that stability and peace of mind are core values, you'll be more determined to work on the goal of building a solid emergency fund.

Getting to the Heart of Your Values – So how do you know what you really value most? One way is to ask the people who know you best how they would describe you in three words. You can also take a moment to quietly reflect. In addition, think about major life events and how you would react to them. For example, what would ultimately be most important to you if you changed jobs? Words that might come to mind are "security" and "flexibility."

Dealing with Inconsistency – If you discover that your goals are out of line with your values, you can do two things. You could adjust your goal. For example, what if your goal is to accumulate wealth, but you place a high value on entertainment? You could aim to seek out free, local events that your family would enjoy. A second option is to look at your values differently. A value like "status" could conflict with a savings goal. However, you can rethink status in a non-monetary way, taking pride in your accomplishments rather than a status symbol like a luxury car.

2. See Yourself as a Saver – If you think of yourself as a runner, you'll go for a run even when there is stormy weather. Running becomes part of your identity. In the same way, if you think of yourself as a saver, you'll be more likely to stick with your goals even when obstacles emerge. To achieve a saver's identity, write yourself notes that say "I am a saver" and post them where you can see them: on your refrigerator, computer monitor and steering wheel. Each time you see them, read the statement and absorb its meaning. Challenge yourself to work your new identity statement into conversations. It will feel foreign at first, but it will become more meaningful as time passes.

Two of a Kind – We tend to befriend people who are similar to us and have the same values. This can be a problem when you're trying to save, but the friend you typically shop with is a spender. To avoid being tempted, shop without your credit cards, set a spending limit or have an open conversation with your friend about your savings goals. In addition, spend time with friends who are savers so you can be inspired by their habits and see what works for them.

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Heidi Beckman Heidi Beckman, Ph.D., is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and author of Pocket Change, Using the Science of Personal Change to Improve Financial Habits (to be released early 2013). Beckman is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in helping people with chronic illness make changes in their lives to support their overall health and well-being.

 

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