Throw ‘money saving tips’ into Google and you’ll be up to your eyeballs in search results. But chances are, you’ve already implemented some controls on yourself already – possibly without even knowing you’re doing it.
This is ‘self-moneying’, a concept developed by Kris White, the chief behavioural officer at superannuation fund Zuper, whereby an individual has come up with “their own unique tools and tricks to help them manage personal financial challenges”.
There are two key aspects of self-moneying: the first is that the tools are often custom-developed by the person, rather than using an existing financial or budgeting tool such as an app.
The second is that it specifically addresses an idiosyncratic “weakness or vulnerability” of the individual, whether it be overspending on food or impulse shopping.
“We intuitively know we have challenges to address,” White told Yahoo Finance. “Most of the time we’ve developed our self-moneying through intuition and self-reflection and some painful trial and error.
“But I’ve seen that when you scratch the surface and discuss and share the behavioural psychology behind it, people [say], ‘of course, that explains why I’ve been doing all these self-money hacks’.”
What does ‘self-moneying’ behaviour look like?
Writing a shopping list in your Notes app. If the item you want is still available a week later, buy it; if not, delete it off your list.
“This is a response to the psychology of hot states: we are tempted to buy here and now in a hot state, but if we can delay the impulse the desire passes,” White said.
Saving for something specific rather than just for a rainy day. You’ll save more and feel better for it, too: the “salient savings goal” feels more achievable. “Progress over time breeds progress.”
Keeping a record of expenses, designed and categorised in a way that makes sense to you. While there are apps out there that offer to take the hard work out of it, White says he’s encountered people who say creating their own record-keeping system made them more mindful about their spending.
“When apps automatically do this, you see a summary figure but don’t learn your own psychology of money as well and don’t get [to] find ways to make more personalised hacks,” White noted.
Locking in a time to sit down with your partner to sort out the finances (such as Sunday morning with a cup of coffee). People who do this are “admirable,” White said.
“It means having some self-knowledge that you have vulnerabilities, but [also] finding a solution rather than putting your head in the sand (Ostrich effect).”
Getting your friends to lock you out of apps you can’t resist using. White said he encountered an instance where an individual had placed a parental access restriction on a shopping app.
“They had a friend use a secret pin to unlock the restriction. Rather than willpower, it was impossible to shop unless they got the pin from their friend,” White said. “Imagine if this was a fingerprint security code.”
How can we do this more consciously?
Know thyself. “Track your spending, think about your savings plan. Write this down and keep it visible on your phone or the fridge. Create a vision mood board.”
Hit pause before spending or making money decisions. Find a money buddy whom you call before spending, or experiment with a few apps and see if they help you track your budget more effectively.
Learn from others, the chief behavioural officer advises. Money is still a social taboo, which ends up having an adverse effect on our confidence and our finances.
“Our money problems are largely a product of not sharing our fears and hopes and solutions,” White said. Talking about it with your friends and/or family will see tips and ideas shared, and then adopted.
Personalise. “The key is finding what works for you.”
“The generic solutions provided by apps and services are useful, but when you make them personal, they are more sustainable.”
Pointing to the ‘IKEA effect’ and the ‘endowment effect’, White continued: “I think the fact we create them for ourselves means we value them more and we make them practical.”