Why You Can’t Seem to Save Money (or Lose Weight)

Why You Can’t Seem to Save Money (or Lose Weight)

You see a video on the internet which inspires you to start your own fitness regime. You chalk down a diet chart strategically planning your meals for the day and enthusiastically follow it to the T for the rest of the week. Then comes the weekend and you get invited to a party and all your resolve goes out the window at the sight of pizza.

Now consider this second scenario.

You plan to go on a vacation, so you decide to save money to fund your trip. But after a few months of diligently saving money, you end up splurging your cash on a brand new I-Phone. What do these two scenarios have in common? The answer is Ego-depletion.

What is Ego-depletion?

Ego-depletion is a term coined by psychologists Roy Baumeister and Dianne Tice, a married couple at the Case Western Reserve University. The idea behind this is that our will to do something depletes if we continuously go against our wishes. The experiment conducted by Dr. Baumeister had two groups of people who were deprived of food for a few hours. Later they were introduced to a room which had freshly baked cookies and a bowl of radish on the table. One group of volunteers were allowed to eat from the cookie plate while the other group was restricted only to the bowl of radish.

Later, all the volunteers were given an (unsolvable)puzzle to solve to see how long it took for each individual to give up. The individuals from the group that snacked only on radish gave up much faster than the ones who were allowed to indulge in cookies.

Dr. Baumeister called this effect ego-depletion.

Say you didn’t want to go to the office on a particular day but you went anyway and spent the rest of the day trying to hold yourself from bursting out on your employees. When you return home from your office you find that you just want to skip the gym that day or you end up shouting at your dog when you know you shouldn’t. this is because of the fact that every time you refrain yourself from doing something that you want to do but shouldn’t, your reserve of willpower depletes, which means you have less willpower for other things such as saving money or going to the gym.

The worst part is that our mind does not differentiate between the tasks at hand when it comes to exerting our will. That means, deciding to refrain from smoking the morning cigarette will exert the same amount of willpower as deciding to save 15% of your monthly payment.

This being said, you might still feel that some tasks like saving money or going on a diet seem harder than others. The reason being:

Not Every Task Reward Previous Exertions of Willpower Exerting our willpower on exercising is more effective than dieting or saving money. The following example will better explain the relationship between exercising, dieting and saving money.

Let’s say you start training for a marathon and decide to go running every morning. The moment you exert your will-power to start running, your body will start burning fat, calories and building muscle.

Every time you exert your willpower to resist the temptation to give up, your resolve grows stronger. If after a few weeks, a day comes when you are completely depleted and decide to skip training, you still benefit from all the work that you have done up to that point i.e. you still benefit from all the weight that you lost and the muscle that you built.

The same isn’t the case when it comes to dieting. If you resist your temptation to chow down on pizza for a whole week and then end up eating it anyway thinking it’s the weekend, your whole week’s effort goes down the drain. The same is the case with budgeting. You restrain yourself from spending money for a few months thinking about all the things that you are going to do on your vacation, but the moment you give in and splurge it on an I-Phone, all the money you’ve saved up till that moment is gone.

3 Strategies to Cope with Ego-depletion

Here are a few ways you can deal with ego-depletion:
1. Accessing a larger store of willpower
2. Expending willpower more consciously
3. Removing the need for willpower

1. Accessing a larger store of willpower

Though scientists have been trying their best to pinpoint the exact method by which we can boost our willpower, they still haven’t come up with anything concrete, yet.

Although there’s some evidence which seems to suggest that consuming more glucose in our diet and getting an adequate amount of sleep can help boost our willpower to an extent. The underlying idea is that healthy people have a large store of willpower as they have a higher resistance than normal people.

Another way is to keep higher goals and motivations, as this will help maintain focus on what’s important even during trying times and help dig deeper into your reserve of willpower.

2. Expending willpower more consciously

Simply strategizing where you want to spend your willpower can help you with completing hard to achieve goals. For example, if you have more pressing matters to attend to such as completing a task before the deadline, you can skip trying to restrain yourself from having another cup of coffee as this will help preserve your willpower and help focus on the task at hand.

Similarly, when it comes to saving money, try to cut down on a few areas that you think is manageable such as dining or transport, rather than restricting yourself completely to your budget. This will help as there will be less chance of you spending money impulsively and you will, in turn, save successfully. To sum up, try and reserve your willpower for important situations.

3. Removing The Need For Willpower

If you are running low on willpower, try and find an alternative for the task at hand. For example, if you do not feel like going to the gym then play a sport that you like.

Similarly, when it comes to budgeting, try to find a cheaper alternative to help you save money. If you like eating out on the weekends, try and find a less expensive restaurant than the one that you usually go to. You will realize that switching to a low-cost alternative is much easier than trying to gather your willpower. Adopting practices that help build up a habit is going to help save your willpower as once a habit is in place, it won’t require drawing from your reserve of willpower to maintain the behavior. Eventually, once these habits become a routine, they won’t require you to make decisions at all and gargantuan tasks like trying to lose weight and saving money will become quite easy for you. To find out more on tips visit easycredit.com.sg

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