The other week, I was hanging out with my Mom (hiiiii Mom!) and I mentioned to her that I had given myself another DIY haircut.
She asked me a really interesting question: "How do you reward yourself for cutting your own hair?"
That was a question I hadn't really thought about in terms of my haircuts. And quite frankly, I haven't really thought about it at ALL lately because my money-saving habits are so firmly entrenched in my life than I don't find myself needing to create rewards to stick to the habit or to keep myself happy while spending less. Cutting my own hair is just one more habit that I've cultivated in my life and it's become second nature by now- since I've been doing this for over 3 years!
I know that rewarding yourself for saving money is important because it can help keep you happy and help you stick to your goals, but somewhere along the way it seems I've lost the need for giving myself a reward.
I racked my brain thinking about it. Do I really not have any rewards for DIY haircuts? I mean, I don't buy anything special for myself to celebrate cutting my own hair... does that mean I'm not rewarding myself?
But then the answer came to me: My reward for cutting my own hair-- and many of my other money-saving habits-- is giving myself the gift of more free time.
(Let's pretend I inserted an inspirational quote here about time being the only resource you can't get back, blah blah blah)
But then I took it a step further and started thinking about other rewards I have in my money-saving journey, and came up with 2 more big ones. So here are my top 3 rewards for saving money!
1. Rewarding yourself with more free time
As I said, I think this is the reward that most applies to my DIY haircuts. If I estimate that my previous paid haircuts took about 2 hours (this includes driving back and forth in northern VA traffic.. boo) and my current DIY haircut takes 15-30 minutes, that's an hour and a half that I'm saving every time I DIY it! Personally, I would much rather spend 15-30 minutes cutting my own hair and then have 1.5 hours left to lay on the couch reading.
(speaking of reading: I just finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and it was SO SO SOOOO GOOD! Definitely recommend.)
2. Rewarding yourself by spending money on other - better! - things
The flip side of the rewards coin is looking at how much money you're saving, and knowing that you can now spend that money elsewhere. Again, with the haircut example, I'd estimate that I'm saving around $30 each time I DIY my hair. This means I can spend that $30 on something that I truly want to spend the money on- like going to a new brewery or taking a road trip to the beach!
3. Rewarding yourself with less stress
The third side of the coin (haha, probably shouldn't have used a coin analogy- too late, we're going with it) is the reward of less stress in your life. Each one of my money-saving habits has added together to a point where I am very comfortable in my financial life. (even after quitting my job for 2 years!) WAYYYY too many people live in a constant state of stress over their money-- there are too many bills, too much debt, not enough income to make ends meet. I hate the idea that so many people are so stressed over money!
So every DIY haircut, every meal I make at home, every book I check out at the library rather than purchase, every at-home manicure, every cell phone bill on Ting or Republic Wireless... it all adds up and helps me avoid financial stress in my life.
Moral of the story: rewards are important.
Thanks to my mom, I am now remembering the importance of rewarding yourself for saving money. If you're having trouble sticking to your money-saving habits, maybe it's time to create some rewards in your life! It can really help to keep you on track and help you enjoy the financial journey, until the habits become second nature to you.
And remember: it doesn't necessarily have to be a reward where you buy yourself something (because, obviously, if you're trying to save money but reward yourself by paying money for something else... that's a two steps forward, one step back kinda thing). It can be giving yourself the gift of more free time to read, nap, lay by the pool, go on a walk, take a bubble bath, call a friend, bake cookies, watch a Kardashians marathon (last week I did that and it was glorious)... whatever you want! It'll help keep you happy while you save lots of money.
But that's not to say there's anything wrong with rewarding yourself by buying something, if that's what floats your boat. Just make sure the reward costs less than the amount you saved ;)