They say people can control their emotions, habits and finances. But is it completely true? How much self-control do we really need? And can we fight our own temptations?
One time I was having lunch with my colleague and friend Amanda. She told me she was saving hundreds of dollars every month. I was a bit surprised as I could barely zero out my budget. That wouldn’t be a big surprise if we were not working together in the same company, in the same department, receiving very similar compensation. We both loved shopping and we both bought nice shoes from time to time. So what is it that I didn’t do or that she did differently?
Self-Control Secret of my Friend Amanda
I was so curious that I could barely wait for our next meeting. I had millions of questions in my head spinning around those extra hundred dollars that she was saving.
One week later, we met again, and I asked Amanda about her secret. She shared with me a story from her past including a technique that her Grandma taught her many years ago. I could feel how passionate she was about it, and so was I. I could see where it brought Amanda and I knew it was working. So I couldn’t wait to start.
12 Envelopes to Get Rid of Temptations
The technique turned out to be incredibly simple and involved just a few steps:
- Step 1. Get twelve envelopes and name each by the name of each month.
- Step 2. Save five dollars every day for the first three months (hide five dollars in a respective envelope).
- Step 3. Save ten dollars every day in the next 3 months.
- Step 4. Save fifteen dollars in the last six months. Done.
I was excited not only to start but to finally use the envelopes I had stacked for months. So when I was home, I chose 12 envelopes, named each with a respective month and put them somewhere I could see them. I woke up next morning and took five dollars out of my wallet (my daily budget) and hid them into the first envelope. I did it again the next day. Then again.. And again.
Self-Control... Did It Work?
I was very diligent at first, then skipped a few days. It was a rough ride but I got through the first month. When the first month was over, I counted the envelope money and I had a hundred dollars worth of cash. I saved $130 next month and $150 the month after. I was staggered.
A few months later I was unstoppable. I was curious where Amanda’s Grandma’s technique would take me, and after a whole year of envelopes I saved $3,780! This was the real money I could use, and I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the envelopes. Interestingly, it also gave me financial confidence and confidence in myself – I did it.
Yes, it was hard to start. I had to control myself every single day. But it all has paid off in the end – I save with ease now and I feel good about myself.