be the frog

My latest column in the Greenhorn Valley View:

If you were reading along last week, you know we were talking about getting ourselves psyched up to start saving. Finding a good reason to put money in savings is a great start. Once you’ve discovered your motivation, the next question you’ll need to ask is, “How much?”

If you go to a financial planner for advice, you’ll come away thinking, “I have to save that much! There’s no way I can do that!” So save yourself the trouble; don’t go to a financial planner.

Remember the story about boiling a frog? If you want to boil a frog, don’t put it in a pan of boiling water, it will just jump right out. Instead, put it in a pan of room-temperature water, and slowly turn up the heat. The frog won’t be aware of the rising temperature until it’s too late. This story is usually used to make a negative point, as in, “You don’t want to be that frog!” But in the case of learning to save money, you DO want to be that frog!

Start small. Start with whatever you’re saving now, and bump it up a small amount. If you’re not currently saving anything, start with something so small you won’t even notice it, say $10 a week. Is $10 a week ever going to amount to much? Probably not. What it will do, however, is get you into the habit. After you’ve gotten used to the idea of putting away a small amount of money each week, bump it up a little. Maybe save $20 a week for a while. Will you miss $20 a week? Experience tells me, yes, for a couple weeks. After that, it’ll be as easy as the $10 was. In fact, every time you increase the amount you’re saving, you’ll probably feel a little pain for a couple weeks, but the pain gets smaller and of shorter duration each time. And every time you get accustomed to a new saving level, you’ll wonder why on earth you worried so much about the previous level.

Or consider a weight lifting regiment. If you’ve been doing 20 reps a day, and one day you decide to do 30 reps, will you notice it? Yes. Most definitely. For a couple days. Then what happens? You get so used to 30 reps that you blow through the first 20 without even thinking about them, and wonder why 20 ever gave you so much trouble in the first place.

You want your savings to be like that. Do more reps. Be the frog.

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