During the holiday season somebody asked me what my new years resolution is. I couldn't come up with an answer so they suggested that I quit smoking. Let me just make one thing clear here. When somebody tells you to quit smoking it only makes you want to continue to smoke. The more people tell you to quit the less likely you are to quit. That's a fact. It's a physcological thing that can't be explained. Quitting has to be your idea, it has to be YOU that tells yourself that it's time to quit. Otherwise it wouldn't feel like a personal achievement. It would just feel like you quit out of peer pressure. When I quit smoking it'll be a time when people have stopped nagging about it. I quit when I want to, not when you tell me to.
Moving on, somebody else suggested that I stop playing video games. I play video games as a hobby. Some people collect stamps, some people make model airplanes, some people assemble train tracks in their attic. Whereas me, I play games. That's all there is to it. It relaxes me, it takes the stress away from everyday life and I genuinely enjoy it. When I get home from work I play a game for a couple hours. Is that really so bad? Yes I'm 30 years old, so what? Hasn't gaming come on enough in recent years that it no longer gets labelled as a 'kiddies' past-time? Are the older generation still pigeon-holeing gaming to be for kids only and do they still think that adults playing games is just wrong? In my case, yes, that's exactly how the adults in my life seem to still think.
So after those 2 suggestions got shot down as soon as they were mentioned I decided I still needed some kind of New Years Resolution. After thinking about it for the past couple weeks I came up with the perfect one. Saving.
I'm dreadful at saving. All my life I just couldn't save a penny and to this day I have no savings. Recent events has made me rethink my finances. I need a nest-egg to fall back on and so far every time I tried to build a nest egg it would fall apart very early on. Why is it that I can't save? What is wrong with my way of thinking that I need to address? So I took a step back and had a look at myself and tried to pinpoint a reason for my problem.
First I thought of the obvious. Perhaps I can't save simply because I don't get enough money to save. I only work 6 hours per day and my wages is nothing special. As soon as my wages are in my account it's gone within a day or 2. But after thinking about it I'm pretty sure that isn't the reason I can't save. I'm a simple bloke with not many needs. I don't drink and I don't go out partying on weekends. Every week I only need 2 things. Cigerettes and petrol to get me to and from work. That's literally all I require to live. Everything else are just extras. When I get paid I go buy my cigerettes for the week and fill up my car. Then I'll have a bunch of cash left over. So I'll pay off a bill or something and if there's anything left I'd spend it. I wouldn't think to myself 'I should put that away', no. Instead I think to myself 'great, I have some left over. Lets rent a DVD and get a McDonalds this weekend.'
So why is it that I think that way? After thinking about it I think I've finally come up with the answer.. and the solution.
When my daughter doesn't eat her dinner we tell her that she won't get a cookie afterwards so of course she then eats her dinner. However, if we told her that if she doesn't eat her dinner we won't bring her to the park next month she wouldn't care. A short term reward is always more appealling than a long-term reward. I believe this is the reason why I can't save. I hate saving because it takes so long to see the benifits. Sure if I put 50 away each week I might be able to go abroad on a nice long vacation... in 2 years time. So I'm always thinking 'but I could use that 50 euros now instead of in 2 years time'. This makes me more hesitant to put money away purely because it's so long-term. The incentive to save just isn't there.
However if there was a short-term reward for saving I'd find it more appealling and easier to save. Which leads me on to my solution. The solution that I've been after for so long. It's so simple yet effective.
Ok here goes, I set myself a milestones amount of euros to save. Once I've reached that milestone I get to treat myself with 10% of what I saved. So for example, when I save up 500 euros I get to treat myself to something worth 50 euros. This means that every 1 or 2 months (saving 500 euros with a wife and child ain't easy), I get to reward myself with something worth 50 euros. This not only gets me saving but it also gives me an incentive to save. I'll know that the more I put away the quicker I can buy something that I want. For example, there might be a game that I really want being released next week yet I know that I only saved 300 so far so suddenly I'll get an urge to put 200 into the savings because I really want that game when it's released. It's pretty much a win/win situation for me. My savings increases yet I still feel the short-term benefits. It's the perfect solution.
So that is my New Years Resolution. Saving. I plan to start saving because I really want to take the family abroad sometime and the way I'm going now that's never gonna happen.