There are times when you have to spend money. Most of the time you really cannot get around it; you have to pay the rent, pay for utilities, food, transportation, and the list goes on. What many people try to do when they want to save money is sacrifice conveniences and put a few extra dollars in their pockets along the way. But there are times when spending money on something that is not entirely necessary is actually a good thing.
Take the gym membership for instance. Millions of people across the country have gym memberships. The fitness industry is booming, and gyms are constantly packed with people. Many of whom are simply running in place on a treadmill or riding in place on a stationary bicycle. I have always been fascinated with the fact that people will spend money to do something they could go outside and do for free. The concept used to baffle me until I finally realized what they are paying for. They do not want to run in place, or sit in a room with sweaty grunting men, they need motivation. They will pay the money for the gym membership, because it motivates them.
Nearly everyone will say “oh yeah, but to save money I will just buy a machine and workout at home.” What generally happens is the machine will get a lot of use in the first two weeks, then sit and collect dust for 6 months to a year, when the motivation will return (oddly enough right around the time we make New Year’s Resolutions), only to see two more weeks of use. But when there is a constant outflow of money, in the form of a gym membership, people are more apt to stick with their commitment to get in shape. That expenditure provides just the right amount of motivation.While the focus of this article is on gym memberships that is not really the point. The point is that human psychology shows we are not very good at motivating ourselves. When it comes to working out we know we should, but we will not do it unless we have motivation ($50 per month in membership dues is a good motivator to most people). But what about investing for retirement? We all know that we should set aside more money, but most of us make excuses and do not do it. The best motivator there is to simply make it automatic. Use the little spurts of motivation to set it up, and then you can relax and forget about it. The next month, when the motivation is nowhere to be seen, it is already taken care of.
The psychology of motivation is seen everywhere in our lives. That is why we pay for services we do not really need. What are some other areas where we are not motivated enough and need extra help?
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