Feed Your Brain
In the last example ($100 now vs. $150 later), the results were turned around by one small factor: glucose. If subjects who had their willpower depleted were fed (supplying their brains with a new source of glucose). their willpower replenished itself, and they were able to make the better financial decision, choosing the $150 option.
So how do you boost your glucose levels? Eating low-glycemic index foods like vegetables, nuts, cheese, meat, raw fruits and olive oil feeds your brain a steady stream of glucose, while quick sugars found in candy and white bread cause a spike and then a crash. Choosing low-glycemic foods, therefore, will give you more willpower over a longer period of time.
Additionally, try to make important financial decisions—be it choosing an insurance provider, rebalancing your portfolio or house hunting—right after a good meal. This will ensure that your brain’s source of willpower is replenished, and you’ll be able to make the best decision … rather than the best decision for the salesperson at hand.
Self-awareness helps bolster willpower and keep you on the right path to reach your goals. By seeing exactly where your money is going, you’re less likely to make decisions with negative financial consequences. Research showed that using budgeting software (like LearnVest’s My Money Center) helped 80% of subjects control their spending, especially in categories like groceries, restaurants and credit card finance charges.
Making these cuts in your lifestyle choices can help you put more money toward your financial priorities to help you achieve your goals. The obvious answer? Start tracking your spending today using the My Money Center, and start strengthening your willpower to avoid the types of spending that can derail your budget.
Automate Your Finances
If decision-making depletes your willpower to make good decisions, then take decision-making out of the mix altogether. By automating your savings and retirement contributions, you won’t be confronted with the decision to put that $200 toward your 401(k) or a night out on the town. Here’s more info on how to automate your savings.
Plus, that leaves you with more willpower to make decisions in other areas of your life; we bet you’ll never snap at your significant other again.
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