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Developing a savings mind-set -- Page 2

It's the same thing with saving. Set attainable goals and "have dessert once in a while," Munroe says. For example, if you receive a small inheritance, sock away 80 percent, but spend 20 percent. "It will increase the likelihood that you'll save the remaining 80 percent" instead of putting 100 percent away, feeling deprived, and then spending it all, Munroe says.

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The other way to get and stay motivated about saving is to do the financial equivalent of hiring a personal-fitness trainer by signing on with a financial planner. That doesn't mean you have to meet with a financial planner on a weekly basis, but meet with him or her initially to help draw up your savings program, and then meet every three or six months to go over whether you are keeping to your saving plan. Having an objective third-party involved will help make you accountable and will increase the odds that you will succeed. However, this can be a costly way to save (just as it is costly to lose weight with a personal trainer).

Get support from friends
If someone you know also wants to change from a spending to a saving mentality, join forces. For example, if dining out is one of your vices, maybe you and your friend could cook a gourmet meal together. That way you'll be sated, without wining and dining. At the same time, you may want to spend less time with friends that love to shop, since hanging out with them will only influence you to spend money.

Consider joining a support group. People are more likely to lose and keep weight off or stop drinking if they join Weight Watchers or Alcoholics Anonymous. "It's a tried-and-true way for changing behavior," says Blair. Debtors Anonymous has 500 meetings in 13 countries. Spenders Anonymous members also focus on trying to rein in spending. (You can find local chapters on their Web sites.)

If you have real deep-seated psychological issues involving spending, consider working with a psychologist or a life coach. A psychologist can help those with serious issues, whereas a life coach may be appropriate for those who have some problems, but aren't totally out of control.

Save on a subconscious level
Since spending money without thinking often leads people to become spendthrifts, consider ways you can "subconsciously" save. For example, once you've finished paying off your car, put that same amount of money away each month into a savings account, says psychotherapist Tessina. Automatic deductions from your checking account into a savings account are a wonderful way to save without pain, adds Rhode of

Rhode recommends looking for a high-yielding savings account with a bank on the Internet. You can set up an automatic savings deduction, and because the account is online, it's harder to withdraw money from it than simply marching into a local bank branch with an ATM card.

Similarly, make it hard to spend money. If you really can't resist spending, don't carry a lot of cash on you -- only what you need for your assigned shopping expedition -- and leave the credit cards at home. Tessina suggests wrapping up a credit card in paper, maybe with a message on it saying, "Do I really need to buy this?" -- anything that will cause you to pause and reflect before you spend.

Avoid impulse purchases
Plan your shopping expeditions. Carry a shopping list with you and only buy what's on that list. Keep in mind that retailers purposely lay out their stores to make you spend more time (and money) in their stores.

"Stores are designed to make you stop thinking. If you maintain your awareness all the time when you shop, you'll be less likely to fall for impulse purchases," Tessina says. Avoid sales and bargain hunting. Sure, you may lose out on some good prices, but you'll ultimately spend less when you buy what you need rather than buying on a whim because it's a good deal.

At home, throw out all your mail-order catalogs without looking at them. Request to get your name taken off of catalogers' mailing lists. Only shop from catalogs or online when you truly need an item or it is your planned indulgence of the week. Consider doing more shopping online if stores tend to trigger the shopper in you.

Realize that change doesn't happen overnight and that you're likely to slip every now and again. Just acknowledge the slip and get back to saving. "They don't call it investing for nothing. It takes time and patience," says Barbara Rubin, a psychologist in Atlanta.

Finally, know that change comes from within and not from an article, a book on how to save money, or a late-night television show.

"I like to say that prosperity is an insider job," Rubin says. "It flows within us all the time. It's how we choose to handle our lives."

-- Posted: June 15, 2005




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