If we truly be either saver or spender, what makes us one or the other?
Are we predestined from birth to be one or the other as at least one study proposes?
Or is it our earliest environments that mold us to be one or the other?
What is it that makes a person a saver?
The act of saving.
In its simplest form, the thing that makes a person a saver is the act of saving.
For some, having an unmet need is enough to make a saver.
If you don’t have enough money to put food on the table, you are going to do something about it. One of those something’s is probably going to be finding a way to never be in that situation again – which means you will learn to start saving, some how, some time.
Many believe that early childhood examples and upbringing contribute greatly to the saver’s predisposition to save. In the book, “Young Bucks – How to raise a future millionaire” author Troy Dunn claims that the greatest gift you can ever give your child is the ‘gift of want’.
Unless a child wants something badly enough, they won’t spend the time and energy to try to figure out a way to go get it. They won’t save up for it.
Each of us, even identical twins raised in the same household, are exposed to different environments. We learn from our environment. The things we observe and experience shape us in many ways.
As author BJ Neblett so aptly says:
“We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.”
A smile or a word from a parent or teacher, seeing someone enjoying their savings, a chance combination of a happy conversation, a sun shiny day and an increased amount in the piggy bank – all may result in one child’s brain being wired towards the pleasure of saving.
In addition to our immediate environment, the culture of our times, places and peoples affect our inclination towards saving.
Members of the ‘Greatest Generation’ suffered through the Great Depression and came out savers. Those affected by our recent Great Recession have had the benefits of saving reinforced as well.
Included here is peer pressure. In order to fit in, you might want to dress the same way your co workers dress or drive a similar quality car or send the kids to that upscale private school.
While I do not believe that our genes determine whether we will be savers or not, I do recognize that personality can play a part in our inclinations to save or to spend. The things that give us pleasure vary by temperament.
Time of life.
As teenagers, we may be madly saving up for a car. Once baby comes, we might become major spenders on toys, a new home, a bigger car and more. As baby grows, we might turn back into fiendish savers – trying to get that retirement fund or college fund built up. Once we hit retirement, assuming your saving efforts have been successful, we might once again become spenders – pursuing delayed goals and dreams.
Over my life, I have been primarily a saver. But, in college, I spent my summer earnings – on clothes, on a used car and on school activities. As a young mom, I saved like mad – going to garage sales, thrift stores and accepting hand me downs on toys and clothing. As a well salaried professional, I started spending again – on home remodeling, on college expenses for the kids and on travel. I also saved – maxing out 401K contributions to build up the retirement funds.
As a retiree, I started out as a saver, unsure how the finances were all going to work out (especially since I retired during the last recession). After a few years, though, as the bodily aches and ills began to take their toll, and after seeing that our finances would continue to allow us independence for many years, I once again started to spend – on myself – before it is too late to enjoy!
Have you been both a spender and a saver?