UNITED STATES—Have you ever asked yourself the question, why is it so easy to spend, but so hard to save? It is a question that I think about time and time again. I find myself pretty good at placing money into my savings account when possible during the month, but at the same time, I always feel that need to want to purchase something. Not that I have to, but I feel like it is a rite of passage as someone who works not one, but two jobs.

It is not about showing the world that you ‘have something’ it is more about being able to treat yourself once in a while. The pandemic totally changed everything in this world as we know it. How we save money, how we spend money and how we use it. Unlike most Americans who found themselves laid off or without a job in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, I was not one of those people. I was an essential worker, so I worked daily without a breather, so I had a steady paycheck each week in addition to the not 1, not 2, but 3 stimulus checks we received during that time a total of $3200.

Yeah, $3200 is a lot of money people and I let that build up in my savings for a rainy day as I used my checks from my other jobs to pay bills and stay afloat. With that said, the pandemic literally shut everything down for about 3-4 months. You could not spend money and as a result people became antsy. I recall during the height of the pandemic thinking man, if I could just go to Target it was the highlight of the week, just to go anywhere besides my job.

The pandemic ushered on some depression for many people, and at the same time forced many to save. You did have retailers invent the curbside pickup model where you could shop online and arrive to the store and have items dropped off in your vehicle. It was a genius tactic, but a dangerous one at the same time. Why? It still allowed people to spend money, hell it made it even easier. The pandemic showcased a new way to spend money, but also informed us the importance of saving money because you never know when you’ll need a rainy day to survive America.

I remember the first time the local mall in my region opened its doors again, which was late June 2020 after closing in March 2020. People were in a frenzy and it wasn’t because they wanted to shop, it was because it gave them an opportunity to get out of the house. On top of that, the deals that retailers were offering were unlike anything seen before. They had merchandise they had to get rid of, so much to the point that you were seeing items marked 90 to 95 percent off.

That is a rarity and something you rarely if ever see America, and the consumers took advantage of that. We spent far more than we actually saved which was the massive problem. We were not placing the money into our bank accounts and safes and it’s because by nature, humans are going to always want even if we don’t need it. It is engrained in our psychology to want things. With the invention of social media it makes it worse because people see these lavish lifestyles of celebrities and want to be just like them.

Well, with the impending writer and actor’s strike currently unfolding, we are going to see Hollywood tighten its belts real soon and I wonder what the impact of that shutdown is going to do not just for the entertainment industry, but the rest of the world. Saving money requires a lot more discipline than spending money. Why? You have to tell, remind and actively practice saying those four little word, “Do I need it?”

The answer to that question 95 percent of the time should be no. However, you have that other side of the brain that gets pleasure and happiness when you buy certain things, rather its clothing, electronics, gadgets, handbags, wallets, shoes, toys, you name it, it could be the thing that keeps you sane to speak. The thing about that good feeling is that it is short lived; it is not something that lasts forever.

You think about what you want, and then once you have it you feel good, but then a day, maybe a week or maybe a month later you start to think, damn I could have done so much more with that money I spent on that item. That’s why you have receipts people, in case you change your mind. When it comes to saving money you have to have a perspective as to WHY you’re saving it for it to work. You might use the logic to prepare for the future. Might work for plenty of people, others that is something hard to envision.

Instead of just saving to save for something, put a NUMBER on what it is you want to save. I think the impact of that is much more powerful than anything else you can imagine. I want to save $200 this month, $500 this month, $1000 this month, etc. Pick a number and make it a goal. The funny thing about saving money for a particular item is when it comes time to purchase that item a lot of the time you will NOT even do it. Why? You don’t want to let go of that money that you saved.

At least that is the perspective I take. If something I want costs $400, I want to save at least $800, so I can still purchase the item and have some money still left over as a cushion. Please don’t ask me why because I couldn’t give you an answer, even if I wanted to give you an answer. Saving money is a behavior you have to train you mind to do, unlike spending, it is harder to do because you are not getting something in return. With saving money you have delayed gratification.

For many Americans that is something we struggle with because we have become spoiled with getting things right away, thank you Amazon for making this more potent (that is sarcasm) by the way. Like spending which is a part of life because there are things you need to survive, the same applies to saving money. If you don’t save when the unexpected arises you will be placed in a situation, where you might be unsure how to survive, and that is not a good feeling, speaking from personal experience. Learn from your mistakes and aim to do better.

Written By Jason Jones