• Career & Money

How to Save When You Were Born to Spend

4 min

Why is it that some people love saving money while others start planning how they’ll spend their paycheck before it even hits their bank account? According to research, most of us are wired to be savers or spenders.

The Foster School of Business found that genetics is the most significant determinant of our financial habits. 30% of the variation in financial patterns among individuals can be attributed to DNA. Our genes play a bigger role in our finances than our upbringing, age, income, or education.

But just because you may be wired to spend money doesn’t give you free rein to spend every penny you make. With the right changes, you can learn better financial habits and start saving money for your future. 

Savers vs. spenders: Which one are you?

So what is the difference between a saver and a spender? The biggest difference is that savers are emotionally connected to the money in their savings account. Whereas spenders are more emotionally connected to their purchases and what their money can buy them.

Savers enjoy seeing their money grow, and they are always looking for ways to stretch that last dollar. They probably enjoy budgeting and always manage to live within their means.

However, savers also tend to be overly rigid with their money and sometimes come across as cheap to other people. And they may experience anxiety when it comes to spending money. They don’t like to do it even when the purchase is something they need.

In comparison, spenders are more interested in living in the moment and aren't worried about financial problems that could occur in the future. They see money as a means to an end and tend to buy now and ask whether they can afford it later.

Spenders often have a harder time living within their means, and it’s easier for them to go into debt. This can cause anxiety down the road when the other shoe eventually drops.

You may be a saver if…

Here are a few signs you may be a saver:

  • You feel best when you’re saving money and love contributing more funds to your savings and investment accounts.

  • Living within your means isn’t difficult, and you don’t have a problem waiting to purchase something.

  • You have no problem with the thought of downsizing and living with fewer luxuries in your life.

  • You’re organized with your finances and enjoy budgeting.

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about the future and retirement goals.

You may be a spender if…

Here are a few signs you may be a spender:

  • You frequently find yourself dipping into your savings, or you may not have any savings.

  • Impulse buys are commonplace, and you often spend money when you’re feeling down.

  • You immediately plan how you’ll spend bonuses or birthday money, and your lifestyle increases with each pay raise.

  • You don’t have a problem with buying items on credit.

  • You have a hard time setting and reaching financial goals.

7 ways to save when you were born to spend

If you feel like you were born to spend money, I can relate — I am a natural spender. And yes, I’m also a personal finance writer. Over the last decade, I’ve learned how to budget and manage my money but when it comes down to it, I like spending far more than I like to save.

Fortunately, there are ways you can work with your personality and natural tendencies instead of working against them. Here are seven tips to help you get started.

Acknowledge whether you’re a saver or a spender

Deep down, you probably know if you’re a saver or a spender, but it’s important to be honest with yourself about this. You need to know where you naturally fall because this will help you understand what’s driving your financial decisions.

A common misconception is that it’s “better” to be a saver than it is to be a spender. This belief causes many spenders to feel guilt or shame every time they spend money.

There’s no right way to be, and spenders aren’t inferior to people who enjoy saving money. You can find a balance and start developing systems to help you develop better financial habits.

Automate your savings

One of the best ways to ensure you save money each month is by automating your savings. Don’t rely on yourself to transfer the money over to savings each month because, more often than not, it just won’t happen.

And make sure you don’t have easy access to your savings account. Put that money in another account that you won’t see every day. If the money is out of sight, it will be mostly out of mind.

Use an app like Acorns

Using an app like Acorns is hands down one of the easiest ways to start saving money. Acorns is an automated savings tool that invests your spare change.

You’ll link your credit or debit card with Acorns to get started. The app will automatically round up each purchase to the next dollar and save the extra.

The amounts that Acorns withdraws are so small that you probably won’t even notice the money coming out of your account each month. But if you stick with it, your savings will start to add up over time. And as you get used to saving that money, you can slowly start to increase your contributions.

Don’t be afraid to start small

One of the things I’ve realized is that it’s not a bad thing to be a spender. I’m not afraid to spend money on something that will improve my life or provide a better experience for my family.

And I’ve learned that anytime I try to stifle my urge to spend money completely, it never works out well. The key is to learn how to balance the desire to spend with good financial habits.

Start by building a flexible budget that you can stick with. Even a small savings goal is better than nothing — you can gradually increase that number over time.

And don’t stress if you can’t stick with your budget in the beginning. It takes time to learn how to manage your money well, and the important thing is that you’re giving yourself a good foundation to start with.

Review your budget every month

It’s not enough to just come up with a budget at the beginning of the month. You also need to take the time to review it at the end of the month. This can be hard to do if you know you blew and went way over in several budgeting categories.

But reviewing your budget will help you start to see patterns in your spending habits. Many of these patterns happen unconsciously, so once you begin to recognize them, you can take steps to change them.

Make sure you have a few savers in your life

As a spender, one of the best things you can do is surround yourself with a few savers. They’ll keep you grounded and help you see the benefit of saving money. Sometimes, you need that one person who can gently ask, “Do you really need to buy that?”

If you don’t have any friends or family who can hold you accountable, it may be helpful to work with a professional. A financial advisor can help you come up with a realistic savings plan and help you stay on track. 

Be conscious of who you’re listening to

If you’re trying to change your financial habits, you need to be aware of who you’re listening to and whose advice you’re taking. Social media bombards us with marketing messages, which often come from influencers and people we follow online.

The other day, I caught myself contemplating buying a $50 journal because someone I follow on Instagram was promoting it. There’s nothing wrong with buying things, but you don’t want to do it from a reactionary place.

I’ve learned to avoid webinars, podcasts, or other situations where I know I’ll be sold to. And I unfollow people if I notice they frequently promote products or services to buy.   

The bottom line

If you love to spend money, then odds are, you’re naturally wired that way. Genetics is a powerful force, but you can take steps to develop good financial habits and start saving money.

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