5 Ways to Train Your Brain to Think Long-Term with Money

Everyone has a different money personality. Some people hoard their money and avoid spending it at all costs. On the other end of the spectrum, some people can’t let much time pass before spending the money they have. While neither scenario is great, the goal should be to maintain control of your money. A part of that includes preparing for your future and thinking long-term with money.

Instead of letting YOLO (“you only live once”) be your driving mantra behind spending, learn to accommodate your future self as well. It won’t happen overnight, but you can train your brain to think long-term with money. I’m sharing 5 ways you can start the training process today.

5 Ways to Train Your Brain to Think Long-Term with Money

#1 Visualize Your Future

If you want to train your brain to think long-term with money, you actually have to imagine yourself in the future. This can be hard for some, but you need to give it an honest shot. What do you want your life to look like 5, 10, or 20 years from now? What do you want your life to look like in retirement? When you imagine what you want your life to look like in the future, ask yourself if your current money behaviors are helping or hurting your chances of getting there.

Realizing that your present actions could be negatively impacting your future desires is a big wake-up call. While it may not completely change your behavior, it will help you start considering the choices you make. When you start making better choices with your money, you give your future self a chance to have everything it desires. Check out CGS Podcast Episode 11The Power of Visualization to Reach Your Goals

#2 Compare Your Present to Your Future

Now that you know what you want life to look like in the next 5, 10, or 20 years, compare your current situation to what you want your future situation to look like. Does it look like you’re renting an apartment now, but you’ll be owning a home then? Does it look like you’re making $60,000 now but will be making $120,000 then?

I’m not saying you have to make all the changes right now to your current situation. I’m simply encouraging you to think about what will need to change financially to get you where you want to be in the future.

Similar to visualizing your future, this may be a tough concept to think about initially. However, it will be a game changer. You’ll identify what needs to change to get you from here to there. Once you know those things, you can start implementing the changes. Slowly, but surely.

#3 Practice Delayed Gratification

One action that will help you train your brain to think long-term with money is practicing delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is your ability to say “no” to your present wants, so you can say “yes” to your future desires. Basically, not spending your time or money on things that won’t help your future self.

Since you know what your future self looks like, practicing delayed gratification becomes easier. It’s much easier to say no to buying a new pair of shoes you don’t need when you know your future self will have $100,000 in investments.

Delayed gratification doesn’t mean avoiding spending your money on the things you love. It means avoiding spending money on things that are not in budget or things that don’t help you reach your future goals. When you’re first starting out with intentional spending, give yourself grace. It doesn’t always come easy but being conscious of every decision is important – whether you spend or not.

#4 Find Alternatives to Impulses or Spending Triggers

Being proactive is better than being reactive. If you know certain people, places or things trigger you to spend money, proactively avoid or find alternatives. Having your backup plan handy before the impulse strikes can help you avoid overspending. Since thinking long-term with money means you’re not indulging in present spending distractions, you’ll need to avoid those distractions.

Most times, we know what triggers our impulses or reckless spending behavior. It could be stress, excitement, anxiety, or any other emotion. Seek out ways to handle those emotions that don’t require you to spend money. You’ll keep more money in your bank account and avoid the guilt that comes from spending money you shouldn’t.

#5 Remember Your Why

The final way to train your brain to think long-term with money is by always remembering your why. Why is it important that your present actions help your future self? Why do you want to live the kind of life you visualize for your future? Keeping your “why” in mind will help you avoid bad spending decisions. It may not be a 100% fool-proof strategy (we’re human, after all), but it can keep your spending within limits.

To keep your “why” front and center, write your goals down, put reminders on your phone, share your future vision with those closest to you, or journal regularly. These actions will help your “why” stay top of mind on a day-to-day basis.

Related: How Financially Successful People Think About Money

Like any habit or skill, thinking long-term with your money can be learned by anyone. The sooner you start practicing, the sooner the habit will stick. There are so many benefits to thinking long-term with your money. The most important one being that your future self is taken care of. It may seem like decades away, but the actions you do now with your money will have a tremendous impact on where you stand in the future.

Would you consider yourself someone who plans and saves for the future? Do you struggle with thinking long-term with your money? I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and questions, so drop a comment below to share!

The CGS Team
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