February 2012


Once again, we heard about this month’s book recommendation, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney over at The Simple Dollar. Willpower is an interesting look at psychological and physical aspects of self control, how and why it works the way it does, and what you may be able to do to strengthen it.

 

Willpower, also called self control, is not something that comes from a bottomless reservoir. It’s actual a physical attribute that can be overworked, affected by what you eat, and can be strengthened. These traits lead Baumeister and Tierney to liken willpower to a muscle.

 

According to the authors, willpower can be overworked through too much use, like a muscle. An example in the book is dieting. Those who diet and are consciously trying to avoid certain foods by using their self control can easily overwork their willpower. This may lead to making bad, uncontrolled decisions when put into tempting situations, like binge eating. It also explains why trying to make big, life changing resolutions is often unsuccessful. You are expending all of your willpower trying to change ten things at once, and then you just give up on all of them when your willpower is depleted.

 

Baumeister and Tierney also discuss how what you eat can affect your willpower. People who maintain a healthier diet may be able to maintain more of their willpower. Also, glucose has a big impact on your self control. If your body is glucose deprived, you may be much more like to lose self control than if your glucose level is at a normal range.

 

Also, like a muscle, willpower can be strengthened over time. Baumeister and Tierney discuss how practicing a small change to your habits daily, like repeatedly telling yourself to stand straight every time you notice you are slouching, can strengthen your willpower.

 

Willpower isn’t the most exciting book to read, but it is interesting. It gave us an idea of why a rational and self controlled person may make a terrible, unreasonable decision, especially when it come to their finances.

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We’ve decided to switch our weekly post from Mondays to Fridays. We feel like posting on Friday will work better with our schedules and will allow us to spend more time preparing.

 

Here is February’s review of blog posts.  We hope you find something you enjoy!

 

Get Rich SlowlyHow to Spend a Tax Refund – If you’re getting a tax refund, especially if it’s a sizable one, be smart about what you do with the money.

 

Get Rich SlowlyFive Easiest Ways to Save Money – By just implementing a change to how you save your money, you can make putting that money aside easier.

 

The Simple Dollar The Different Meanings of Savings for Retirement – Everyone’s thoughts of the ideal retirement is different, so everyone plan for retirement should be different as well.

 

Please let us know if you have a favorite financial blog that you think we should be reading.

This is not a book recommendation, although we’re sure the book by one of our favorite blogger’s Trent Hamm, 365 Ways to Live Cheap!, is great (it’s on our to read list). However, over at Trent’s blog, The Simple Dollar, he is doing a series throughout 2012 based on this book.

 

Everyday in 2012, there will be a post about one way to live cheap. We’ve been following the series so far this year, and there are some great ideas. Certainly, the ideas are not for everyone, but if you’re looking for some creative ways to cut your expenses, you can find them here.

 

Please check out his introduction post for the series and the first idea on how to live cheap. And if you haven’t already, take a look around The Simple Dollar. There are some truly inspiring stories and ideas.

This morning, over at Good Financial Cents, Jeff Rose did a post titled “YOUR attitude IS Everything – Don’t Quit on Yourself.” The idea is once you give up hope on being able to accomplish something, then you are going to fail at doing it. If you have no hope, you won’t try, and if you don’t even try, you won’t succeed.

 

This idea that “attitude is everything” is very important when dealing with your finances. Unfortunately, many people who are dealing with financial problems have a hard time staying positive. It can be very difficult to stay hopeful when you are dealing with a job loss or seemingly insurmountable debt. Then, as time passes and you see yourself making little or no progress, you start believing that the situation really is hopeless. That you’ll never be able to move past your financial difficulties, so why bother trying at all?

 

There are so many different aspects to finances that hopelessness can affect. You may think you will never be able to retire comfortably, so why bother saving? Or that you’ll never be able to fix your credit problems, so why does it matter if you stop paying on your debt? Finances are stressful to deal with, and it’s very easy to lose a positive attitude while working through them.

 

As Rose states:

  • Once you have given up hope, you have failed.
  • Once you truly believe that there is not better outcome for your life, things will never improve.
  • Once you make that mental shift into permanent negativity, all is lost.

 

So how can you stay positive? Part of the reason we spend so much time talking about goals is that they can go a long way to helping you stay positive. While one big goal, like paying off all your debt, can seem hopeless, turning that goal into smaller steps you can work your way through, like pay $100 extra towards debt this month, can help keep you positive. You’ll have a feeling of accomplishment at completing the small steps while still working toward your big goal. If you try tackling everything at once, it would be very easy to become overwhelmed.

 

Also, as Rose discusses, even if you think your own situation is hopeless, don’t give up on your kids or grandkids. Do you want them to see you hopeless? Or would you rather use your financial burdens as an example to your family, to help them? Rose states, “What about younger people that you could influence to make sure they aren’t faced with the same dilemma.”

 

We realize that keeping a positive attitude may be very difficult for some, and that it’s easier said than done. However, it can make a big difference on how you deal with your finances, so try to find ways to push out negativity and keep moving forward.

 

 

  • Disclaimer: The information on this blog is not meant for specific financial advice. The ideas/opinions stated are not suited for everyone, and readers should use their own judgment in applying them in their financial lives.