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April 05, 2017

Saving money for a dream vacation is hard.

For those who resolved on January 1 to make 2017 the year they save up enough to go on that bucket list trip just to watch their energy fizzle away and their savings stagnate, psychologists may have an explanation.

According to researchers from the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba, our goals actually change as we make progress towards them.

Basically, when we first set a goal, we are in a “promotion motivation” mindset. This means that we’re motivated by positive things when we first set a goal. For example, those saving up for a trip may choose to do so by taking on another job or investing money. This is the easy part.

But then, as we make progress towards our goals, focus should switch to “prevention motivation,” which means that goal-setters become motivated by “the desire to avoid something negative,” according to researchers. In terms of saving money, this could mean going out to dinner less or skipping an expensive purchase.

Related: How to Save Money While Traveling Solo

“Generally speaking, people in North America are predominantly promotion-focused, so they are good at starting goals, but not as good at accomplishing them,” Olya Bullard, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The researchers suggest that those aiming to save money should actually start their goals with a “prevention motivation” mindset. That means wannabe travelers may find it easier to achieve their budgeting goals with “avoidance strategies,” like forgoing meals out and putting that money directly into a travel savings budget.

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