The scientists surmised that the preference for earning money over saving is a learned behavior.
“It’s rational from the brain’s perspective: You must earn before you can save,” said Anderson.
“It could partly be cultural,” he said. “We brag about work ethic and earnings, but we don’t talk about coming up with a cool savings plan.”
In order to change up your behavior, practice being mindful of squirreling away cash.
1. Acknowledge the problem: It’s no secret that a variety of priorities and expenses are competing for your hard-earned dollars, but be aware that merely making more money won’t necessarily solve your problems.
That’s especially the case if you’re blowing your raise instead of pocketing it. “For the majority of people, if you make more money, the savings won’t match it,” said Anderson.
2. Make the choice to save: Having a slice of your paycheck automatically go toward an emergency savings account can help you build your cash reserves without thinking about it.
But if you want to change your mentality on saving versus earning, you should also make the active choice to put away a dollar a day, said Eve De Rosa, associate professor at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, and co-author of the report.
“Saving a dollar a day isn’t going to accumulate into a fantastic abundance of savings, but this daily practice of attending to saving makes you mindful,” said De Rosa.
3. Think ahead: We prioritize the present and attach less importance to the future, which may factor into why people prefer to earn instead of save. “It helps to think about the future us and what we can do for that person,” said Anderson.
“You can imagine that people default to ‘I should earn more,’ but the idea is that you want to save for that person in the future,” he said.