The State of Your Brain is Tied to the State of Your Savings
You’ve invested in your personal savings plan, and you’re sticking to it. And it feels good, right? As your savings begin to grow, you are likely finding that other areas of your life are in turn blossoming as well. And it’s no wonder: exercising self discipline and curbing that unnecessary spending is a huge confidence builder. Saying no to the temptations to spend, in whatever form, is empowering, and not just when it comes to your finances. This new sense of self-control will also serve you well in other areas of your life. Let’s take a look at these four unexpected perks of saving.
This one is huge. Financial stress has been scientifically proven to take an enormous toll on the brain. If you are living in financial duress, growing research shows that your pre-frontal cortex will max out with a deluge of stress and fear signals. The deeper you’re in, the more this stress lingers, like an unwanted party guest who doesn’t even bring a side dish. Keep in mind that this is the part of your brain that is dedicated to problem solving, completing tasks, and setting goals. If your pre-frontal cortex is overloaded with stress and anxiety, your bandwidth will no longer have band, nor width. This means, there aren’t enough resources to allow for good decision making. Making poor decisions in turn creates a poor sense of self. You become stuck in the rut of not having money, while always battling the debilitating anxiety that goes along with it. Eldar Shafir of Princeton University, and a Fellow at the Association for Psychological Science, conducted a series of experiments on scarcity and brain bandwidth. He and his team discovered that when a person is wholly preoccupied with financial problems, there is a clear decline in cognitive function, equal to a 13 point drop in IQ. Most of us cannot afford these 13 points. By taking steps to build financial security, you are building up your sense of worth and of self. Job performance, academic achievement, harmonious relationships – these all need your fully functioning brain. Making and sticking to positive decisions give you the confidence to handle other conflicts that may come your way. You know that you can do it, no matter what it is. And suddenly, there’s a lot more room in your brain for the good stuff.
Confidence: You Can Afford to Swagger
When you start saving, and stick to it, your self-esteem is likely to get a hefty boost. No longer will you need to utter the phrase “You got this!” – because you will just instinctually know that you do in fact, have this. You are proving to yourself that if you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything you set out to do. And when something unexpected happens – and it will – instead of feeling like someone’s just dumped ice cold water over your head, you’ll just bust out that confident swagger you’ve got going. The car broke down? Your apartment floor got flooded? You forgot to return that library book five years ago? No sweat. You’ve got savings to cover these things. Isn’t confidence beautiful?
Being straddled in debt takes a toll on your sense of freedom. If your earnings are constantly going toward paying off credit card debt that never seems to diminish in the slightest, your freedom is being quashed on a consistent basis. And boy does that feel crummy. Start saving, and you’ll begin seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, even it it seems dim in the beginning. Conquer your debt, and embrace your freedom.
Pollyana: Not Just a Classic Disney Movie
No, you don’t have to go around playing the “Glad Game.” But it’s likely that your mood, and your perspective on the world around you, will shift dramatically in a positive direction. The future will start to seem less terrifying and more like an adventure waiting to happen. When you start saving money, you’re also building up a buffer of hope for the future. As it grows, so will your optimism. You’re working toward something positive, and you can actually see it and measure it with each passing day.
Living within your means: welcome to your future. Welcome to today.