Remember a few months ago how I was O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with habit formation books? Yep, that obsession hasn't gone away yet. I remembered another fact/tip from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg that I wanted to share with you!
In the book, the author describes an experiment that tested people's willpower.
Test subjects were brought into a room where there was one bowl of warm chocolate chip cookies and one bowl of radishes. One test group was told to ignore the cookies and eat the radishes; the other group was told to ignore the radishes and eat the cookies.
(how hard would that be-- being told to eat RADISHES when there's warm chocolate chip cookies right in front of you?!!)
After that, the subjects were asked to complete a puzzle. The puzzle was actually impossible to solve, but the researches implied that it was easy and wouldn't take long to complete.
Researchers found that the people who's willpower had already been tested-- the ones who were told NOT to eat the warm chocolate chip cookies-- gave up on the puzzle much faster than the group who's willpower was NOT already tested (the ones who were allowed to eat the chocolate chip cookies).
From the book:
"Willpower isn't just a skill. It's a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there's less power left over for other things... If you want to do something that requires willpower-- like going for a run after work-- you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day."
Okay- so what does this have to do with saving money?
If you know you have a problem with willpower/self-discipline (at, say, a store like TARGET... ahem, talking to myself) then don't make it worse for yourself. Don't go shopping after a long day at work or when your willpower muscle has already been tested. If you've already used up all your willpower for the day, it's going to be wayyyyy harder to stop yourself from spending hundreds at Target.
I know this is definitely the case for me. I remember going to Target after a stressful day at work or when I wanted to escape my roommates (not you Katie and Marg ;) ) and I would spend SO MUCH MONEY because my willpower had already been tested that day. On the other hand, when I go early in the morning, I think it's much easier to hold myself to my list and not get any extra stuff!