Thanksgiving gives us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on all the gifts were blessed with: health, family, food on the table, a career, a home…the list goes on and on. But what you may not realize is that being thankful can actually make a positive impact on your financial situation. When it comes to our finances, many of us have a tendency to compare and despair – meaning we obsess about what we dont have, and beat up on ourselves for not having as much as our family members, neighbors or friends. But a daily practice of being thankful for all you do have has been proven to stave off overspending and help you save. Here are four ways that adopting an attitude of gratitude can help you build wealth.
- Youll stop comparing yourself to the Joneses (or the Kardashians). Its easy to get caught in the trap of thinking we have to buy the latest smartphone, car or must-have designer accessory in order to be happy. When were unaware of all that we already have, we tend to be envious of what those around us have – their clothes, their jobs, their houses – and the status we think these material possessions bring. But when you stop comparing yourself to the Joneses, you allow yourself to be happy with yourself as you are. Your budget and values should dictate your spending, not a desire to fit in. By letting go of the temptation to keep up with other people, youll eliminate unnecessary expenses.
- Your wants will become less important than your needs. We can never get enough of what we dont really need. That’s why its so tempting to blow our budget again and again on frivolous, ephemeral stuff such as expensive meals and luxury hotels. However, gratitude has a great way of shifting our perspective. When you remember to be thankful for what you have, your wants suddenly become less important – which means youll be less likely to spend your money on indulging them. An essential aspect of wealth building is to keep your spending low and focused on your needs – like shelter, food and transportation. The money youll save as a result will improve your sense of security, and make those wants appear even less tempting.
- Youll stop scarcity thinking. Those who find themselves in constant debt tend to practice scarcity thinking, which causes them to focus on what they dont have and suffer a great deal of financial panic as a result. Practicing gratitude shifts your mindset, and helps you find something to be happy about regardless of your situation. Scarcity thinking will give way to a positive attitude, which will enable you to harness your potential and commit to doing things that used to seem impossible – like getting out of debt or landing a better job.
- Youll save more. According to Northeastern University Psychology Professor David DeSteno, gratitude has been scientifically proven to increase your chances of saving money. His article in the June 2014 issue of Psychological Science cites the results of a study wherein thankfulness was proven to trigger patience and a willingness to hold out for greater monetary gain.
In a series of experiments, test subjects were offered $54 on the spot, or $80 if they waited 30 days. Researchers manipulated the test subjects frame of mind by asking them to spend five minutes writing about something that made them feel happy, grateful or neutral prior to being offered the money. On average, participants who reflected on gratitude were 12 percent less likely to take the smaller amount of money on the spot – the implication being that an attitude of gratitude could increase someones savings potential by as much as 12 percent.
So when youre remembering all youre grateful for this Thanksgiving, consider adopting an attitude of gratitude all year long. Writing a daily list of three simple things youre thankful for –e.g., your health, a cup of coffee or a good nights sleep – is an easy way to stay focused on abundance rather than scarcity. It wont cost you anything, and it just might improve your financial situation.