Saving Just Isn’t Much Fun

This post is inspired by a comment that Clint from Million Dollar Goal left regarding my post on Cinderella Investing. As he states:

I completely agree with you. The problem with learning to save money is that it usually just isn’t much fun. Not to mention that many attempts to save money really don’t save any money at all, proven by your envelope example and the numerous studies that show the people who clip coupons normally spend more money while shopping.

There you have it. Straight and simple. For most people, saving money “just isn’t much fun.” People don’t like it. When they hear the words, all systems shut down from anxiety overexposure and the only thing that can relax them is spending some money to calm their nerves. Okay, it probably isn’t quite that extreme, but I do think there is a perception that permeates our society that saving money “just isn’t much fun.” So the question becomes, why do people feel this way?

I can come up with a few hypotheses off the top of my head:

** The time that most people save money is when their finances are tight, thus there is a connection between and unpleasant and stressful time and saving money.

** Commercial emphasize that spending money is fun and thus the opposite (saving money) must not be fun.

** Saving money is often associated with having to give something up.

** The saving reward is limited.

** There is immediate pressure for results.

I’m sure I could come up with more, but these flew off the top of my head. What I get from most of these is that due to the circumstances under which most people save money are less than ideal, the process of saving money takes on a feeling of not being fun. It is something that has to be done rather than something that one chooses to do at their own free will, and usually exposes itself during times of high stress and limited flexibility.

It’s an interesting dilemma, especially for someone like me that runs a money saving website that aims to be focused at individuals who are in the mainstream – how do you make such a site popular when the topic for most people just isn’t much fun?

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5 Responses to Saving Just Isn’t Much Fun

  1. Clint says:

    For me, I guess the answer is in the benefits. While finding ways to save money may not be particularly fun, watching my net worth grow IS fun.

    When you realize that the “sacrifice” of saving is usually just giving up something you want in exchange for something better, it’s not such a sacrifice afterall.

  2. Pingback: Scott On Money

  3. Caitlin says:

    Saving has turned out to be more fun than i expected…and I think mainly due to what Clint mentioned…”saving” becomes a means to watching the networth grow and that IS fun. But every time I save money on something or move money into savings it does feel fun. but I do agree with your points about why it may not be so for most people. They haven’t connected with the choice aspect of it.

    BTW I did fix the link to my spending plan!

  4. Ian says:

    Saving is hard to do with all the financial pressure, but the more you can put away the less yiou have to work and the more your money will work for you.

  5. Jessica says:

    I always try to keep careful track of what I’m spending my money on. I had to work quite hard to get it (I’m a university student on a very tight budget) so I want be damn sure that when I hand it over to someone else, I get something good in return.

    If I give someone $10, I expect something worth it- A few days worth of groceries, a new top or pants that I particularly lie, etc.

    It actually quite annoys me when I find myself handing it over in exchange for a not-very-good take out meal, or a cocktail that I’m not going to like enough to justify the price anyhow (considering vodka and some sort of juice will keep me quite happy).

    I generally see saving as holding on to my money to get an exchange that’s really worth something to me- I love to travel, so I’ll give up 15 lousy take away meals in order to spend a weekend somewhere interesting, or spend an extra night or so overseas on my next trip. For me, it’s always a trade, and always a matter of deciding if its worth handing over my hard earned cash.

    I also freak out less when I have an emergency fund going 😛 Peace of mind is worth a lot!

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