Stephan Siegel at the University of Washington and Henrik Cronqvist of Claremont McKenna College seem to think so.
According to their study of the money habits of 15,000 Swedish twins – some of whom had lost touch with each other – genetics seem to play a role in whether we’re savers or spenders.
Siegel notes that “There is overwhelming evidence across the board that the genes matter and that between one-third and 50% of our behavior is determined by our genes”. He continues, “As such, it seems that it would be counterintuitive to try to change a spending or saving behavior, since it’s determined to such a great extent by genetics.”
So then, the researchers seem to be saying if you’re naturally prone to “shop til you drop” you should forget trying to fight against nature and just spend, spend, spend?
There are plenty of born spenders who have “changed their stripes”, so put that credit card down and find out how you can change too.
Shift your mindset
While it’s important to be a smart shopper, there’s a difference in how savers and spenders approach a buying decision.
The frugal spender will have in her mind “I want to get the best deal.”
In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with getting a great deal, but consider that a frugal saver will ask herself, “Do I really need to buy this?”
See the difference?
The spender has already made up her mind that she’s going to buy, but is simply concerned with getting the most for her money, whereas the saver is looking for a reason to buy the item at all.
Practice asking yourself these questions the next time you decide you really need or want something:
- *Do I really need this?
- *Can I make it myself?
- *Can I find one for free on Craigslist or through Freecycle?
- *Is there something I already have that will work?
- *Is there a way to stretch what I already have to make it last longer?
A written plan for how you’ll spend your money. That’s all a budget is…nothing more, nothing less.
You don’t have to get fancy…a simple pen and paper will do the trick…but if you don’t take the time to set out what is coming into your home and the bills need to be paid you won’t have a barometer of how well you’re doing and/or where you need to make changes.
Use technology to your benefit.
Have money automatically taken out of your pay and deposited into the highest interest paying savings and investment accounts that you can find.
While auto-paying your bills can be helpful, it’s not advisable until you’ve gotten a handle on your spending habits.
Plastic money tends to separate us emotionally from real money. We don’t see the physical cash, so it’s easier to part with our money by simply handing over a credit or debit card.
Use cash to pay for every purchase and leave your cards at home.
Be honest with yourself
If you’re a closet spender, come clean with both yourself and anyone in your life who may have been negatively impacted by your spending.
This can be difficult, but on the other hand it’s also easier to keep up the changes when you’ve come clean and know that others are watching. Ask a trusted friend or family member to help keep you accountable to your goals.
Allow for some spending money
Just because you’re trying to save more that doesn’t mean you can never “splurge” again. Budget some “fun money” and spend it however you want, putting any excess at the end of the month towards your savings or paying down your debt.
Are you a spender or a saver?
Will we always have a natural bent towards one extreme or the other?
But even though science may suggest that your genes dictate whether or not you’ll ever be able to save for your house, your retirement, or whatever else you want to do in life, that doesn’t mean you’re fated to die a pauper…in reality we’re much more than our genetics.