When it comes to goals, there are two types of people out there: Abstainers and Moderators
Many personal finance bloggers try out “no-spend” or “no-shop” challenges where they abstain from certain purchases for a set period of time. I’ve never had much success with these types of challenges (in fact, I rarely go 2 months without buying something, even if it’s just something small like a belt or clutch). Originally, I thought I just lacked the sheer willpower (and, ahem, awesomeness) of other bloggers, but apparently the reason is that I’m a Moderator, not an Abstainer.
According to The Happiness Project:
You’re a moderator if you…
— find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure – and strengthens your resolve
— get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something
You’re an abstainer if you…
— have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
— aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits
Abstainers and Moderators need different types of financial goals
Figuring out if you are an abstainer or a moderator will help you set financial goals in a way that encourages your success (instead of secretly undermining you).
An abstainer would find “No” goals – NO Starbucks, NO shopping, NO going out to lunch at work, etc. – a way to motivate herself into saving more money. A moderator, however, would chafe at such absolutes, and would find MORE/LESS goals easier to stick to. A moderator should instead aim to drink LESS Starbucks, buy FEWER clothes, bring lunch MORE often.
I am definitely a Moderator. The thought of “never” getting to do something – buy something, eat something, try something, etc., makes me break out in a cold sweat. It’s akin to a giant case of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. For example, I’ve dramatically cut back on clothing/accessories purchases and Starbucks consumption compared to years past. But if you tell me I can’t buy anything or drink a latte for a year (or more), the FIRST thing I’d do is rush to the mall and clean out the entire Sales section of Banana Republic while chugging a Venti vanilla soy latte.
Hat tip to Blonde on a Budget