The word “discipline” conjures up many visuals for me. I recall being dragged by my ear to the principal’s office in third grade but can’t remember what I was doing exactly to cause my teacher to have a temporary break with sanity (but I bet it was good). According to dictionary.com discipline is defined as “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” Now, if that doesn’t take us all back to grade school nothing will?! Yet, despite all of this, we seem to show wonderful abilities to be disciplined in our daily lives. We have jobs, take care of our families, follow most all driving rules, visit our doctors pretty regularly, and even get to the gym on occasion.
So, if you resonate with that list, how does the idea of financial discipline sit with you?
When you consider financial discipline, you likely think of depriving yourself of those great shoes or that new electronic gadget you have been considering. It is much easier to buy that new suit or an awesome painting that moves us than it is to save money. Why? Well, the material things we can see and enjoy with our friends, family, and neighbors. The area of savings, only you can see and if you mention it then you are just a heel and bragging. What a conundrum!
We live in such a materialistic world. In the United States, we like showing off our success, or even creating it when we can get the credit to buy those symbols with which we wish to associate. Whether that is the tag on our purse, our shoes, the symbol on our car….these are visible signs of success. Even when you slim down or build muscle in the gym, there is an outward, visible sign of your discipline. But this does not hold true with savings.
Here is the question I would love your feedback around: How can we as a society make disciplined savings cool?
As a mother, I want to instill in my daughter the feeling that saving money is much cooler than having the iTouch she begged for and “had to have” for months. There must be a way. I’d like reader’s ideas on how to make disciplined savings tangible and cool. Could we create an index of retirement or savings readiness so we can take the conversation away from how much someone is worth to how “prepared” they are for their next big goal on a scale of 1-10?
How can the U.S. tackle this issue of moving from a materialistic, consumption society to one of disciplined savers? All ideas are welcome!