Everything Your New Year’s Resolutions Will Do to Your Brain and Body: Spending Less and Saving More
By Adam Elder
How long does it take before it starts to feel like a success story, rather than a punishment?
You probably heard this stat from earlier this year: 40 percent of adults don’t even have 400 bucks to cover an emergency if they needed to. No surprise, then, that spending less money and saving more of it is a super popular New Year’s resolution.
Last year, we interviewed several people who explained how to do it, but this year, we’re examining the toll that it actually takes on you. What is it like to save money? Does it mean denying yourself the pleasures and charms of modern living? Basically, aside from time spent looking at your bank account, how much does it suck? We asked super saver Benjamin Van Loon, who worked his way out of significant debt, as well as Dr. John Karaffa, a certified financial planner and personal finance specialist for professional athletes, who just wrote the book Touchdown Finance, to show us the way.
What It Does to You After a Week
When you first dedicate yourself to saving money and not spending it in the same profligate ways as always, you’ll feel an immediate thrill knowing you’ve got a plan and are not just spending money in the same ways, hoping for a different result when the bills come.
“Even though I was already living frugally, I felt like I definitely gained some psychic confidence,” says Van Loon. “There was a calming sense of assurance in knowing that I’d reached a more economically stable place. I was actually able to start thinking more about the future beyond simply surviving the present.”
Your diet, meanwhile, will probably have altered considerably, and not necessarily for the better (unless you somehow consider switching from restaurant ramen to packaged ramen an improvement). If you’re the type who always ate out and have now decided to cook at home to save money, have some kind of rough idea of what kinds of foods you want to eat — i.e., make sure they’re actually things you’ll look forward to eating, says Wahida Karmally, a nutrition expert at Columbia University. Otherwise, you’ll be a little lost in the kitchen and frustrated every time you feel hungry, which could make you resentful about this new saving-money thing you’re on. And that’s about the worst possible start you could have.