Remember that time I was obsessed with the idea of habit formation, Gretchen Rubin, and saving money? Yeah. Obsession is still going strong. #sorrynotsorry #dopeoplestillsaythat?  

 

Another thing Gretchen (I like how I pretend we're on a first name basis.. NBD) talks about is that if you want to break a habit, you might fall into one of two personality types: the abstainer and the moderator.

 

As an example, let's use eating junk food as a habit we want to break.

 

Abstainers

Abstainers find it easier to break the habit of eating junk food by just completely not allowing themselves to eat the junk food. Abstainers find moderation hard- if they have 1 cookie, they'll want to have another, and then will cave and finish the whole package. So instead, abstainers find it easier to just completely ban junk food from their lives-- keep it out of the house, don't allow themselves to buy it, etc.

 

Moderators

On the other hand, moderators find it easier to only allow themselves to eat 1 cookie at a time, or one serving of chips at a time. They tell themselves they'll have one cookie, and they're able to stick with it. If they were to completely abstain from the junk food, they'd feel deprived and probably wouldn't be able to stick with their habit.

 

 

So how does this fit into Money Saving?

I think that I work best as an abstainer in my financial life.

 

Let's take Target as an example. Honestly, it's way easier for me to tell myself that I'm not allowed to go in Target, rather than allowing myself to go in to just pick up a few things. (which we all know turns into $100+ in purchases, ugh)

 

Another thing I am an abstainer for? Groupon/Living Social/other sale websites. I fall way too easily for a "good" sale so I don't let myself sign up for any of those websites. 

 

Before realizing this, I would sometimes feel guilty for having to be an abstainer around certain things, like Target. Like, shouldn't I have enough willpower to NOT purchase everything in the store? Come on, just get more willpower, Ashley!

 

But that's not right!! Just because your brain doesn't function well on moderation doesn't mean you're a failure at willpower! It just means that your brain is wired to work best as an abstainer-- and that's totally okay. Embrace your habit formation personality.

 

Side note: when I first started writing this post, I was convinced that I'm more of a moderator. But then I erased it all and realized I'm definitely an abstainer! It's easier for my brain to know "I can't do this" rather than "I can occasionally do this". I am a very by-the-rules person so the uncertainty of "how often can I do it?" confuses me. I like knowing YES I can have this or NO I cannot have this. Interesting! (I feel like this blog post was a mini-therapy session for me, hahaha )

 

 

Where in life are you an abstainer, and where are you a moderator?