Some people find it easiest to boost their savings rate by “saving their raises.” Every time their income goes up, they simply keep spending the same way they did on a lower income. This technique, however, does not work as well for most emergency physicians, who generally reach peak earnings relatively early in their career.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 34 – No 12 – December 2015
Studies have shown that spending cash is psychologically more painful than using a debit card, which, in turn, is more painful than using a credit card. This behavioral tendency, combined with the convenience of cards, means that we generally spend more when using credit cards. So if you aren’t saving as much as you would like, consider going to a cash-spending plan. Psychological studies also show that our willpower is limited. We are only able to deny ourselves so many times before giving in. However, it turns out it takes the same amount of willpower to decide not to buy a BMW as to avoid buying a latte. Use your limited willpower where you can get the most bang for your buck—on the big-ticket items.
Recognizing the behavioral pitfalls that lead to out-of-control spending can help keep you off the hedonic treadmill. Practicing emergency medicine is far more enjoyable when you do not have to do it for financial reasons.