Tip #14: Use self-persuasion to share how much you’ve saved so far

Ramit Sethi

This is Tip #14 of of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge.

Today’s tip is to write down how much you’ve saved so far, AND how you would motivate others to save money. (Skip to the survey here.) If this doesn’t seem like an obvious savings tip, let me share an experiment that social psychologist Kurt Lewin did to change behavior.

In World War II, the United States was facing a serious shortage of meat. The Committee on Food Habits was charged with figuring out how to keep Americans healthy without the same meat they’d been accustomed to — and instead eating intestine and kidneys — so they asked Lewin to help.

Lewin’s approach was brilliant. As Eliot Aronson writes in Age of Propaganda, Lewin convened groups of housewives, who at that time were the chief decisionmakers about food. He then split them into two groups:

Group 1 received a 45-minute lecture, which “emphasized the importance of eating these meats for the war effort; it stressed the meats’ health and economic advantages…the lecture concluded with a testimonial from the speaker about her success in serving intestinal meats to her own family.” 3% of the attendees ended up serving intestinal meats to their families.

Group 2, by contrast, spent the same amount of time discussing the problem of a meat shortage, but in this experimental condition, Lewin did something extraordinarily clever: He asked them, “Do you think that housewives like yourselves could be persuaded to participate in the intestinal meat program?” The women then discussed how that might happen. In this group, “32% of the housewives who had engaged in self-persuasion served their families intestinal meats.”

That’s an astonishing difference, and I want to apply it here. Tell me how much you’ve saved, and how, together, we can persuade other people to save money. Please fill out the 3-minute survey here:

Click here: How much have you saved so far in the 30 Day Challenge?

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  1. Jennifer

    I estimate that I’ve saved about $800 or so using these tips, although some of them I was already aware of.

    I’ll admit, that when I first heard of this challenge, I wasn’t sure if Ramit’s advice would be interesting or lame. So far, I think it’s been about 50/50 for me, but I’m a hyper frugalist… So this is kind of like asking basic trivia of a superfan…

    However, it’s good to get people motivated to save money and be a responsible consumer and American.

    Becoming The Marshmallow

  2. Steven

    So far this month I’ve saved $760 in mostly cutbacks and basic frugality. I’m going to wait until the end of the month to show everything I did. One cool thing I found is that I had over 13000 points on my mastercard. That equals $125 in free gas cards!!!

  3. Ramit Sethi

    Please respond in the survey, not on this comment!

  4. Green Panda

    I met my goal and with planning our vacation, we saved $852.25! Monthly savings look to be around $192.95.

    I enjoyed the survey Ramit and will keep on the challenge and see if we can save any more.

  5. Mike

    I saved about $500 a month so far. Mostly from brown bagging my lunches instead of eating out. Just being more aware of my purchasing choices is leading to additional savings. Awareness is the key.

    I am going to try and sell something this week on Ebay. Wish me luck.

    Thanks Ramit!

  6. Nikki

    Wow. Reading all of these tips makes me think the average American pretty much makes a big pile of money and then sets FIRE to it.

    People are embarrassed to shop at TJ Maxx? You’ve got to be kidding me! That’s where I go when I want to splurge.

    I’m also gobsmacked that people go out to lunch every day of the week. It has to be a VERY special occasion at work for me to go out to lunch. When I forget lunch, I go to the grocery store and buy a can of soup. Problem solved.

    And I’m shocked that going one day without spending money is a big deal for most people.

    No, I’m not some wacky freegan or anything. I just spent several years living in Los Angeles on $20K/year. You’ll learn a LOT of ways to save money on that salary.

    Reading these tips makes me feel like I come from another planet. People really do these things? I don’t think of myself as a very frugal person (I’m certainly no Freegan!), and yet all of the tips I’ve seen so far would involve changing my habits to become MORE consumerist and spendy.

    Here’s my tips for you:
    1. Freecycle. Don’t want something? Offer it on Freecycle for others to take. Other people offer things as well. We got hundreds of dollars of audio equipment and plenty of other things from the list. It’s all high-quality. None of it is dirty or contaminated – just gently used.
    2. Clothing swaps. Bring all the clothes you don’t want. Your friends bring the clothes that they’re insane to give up. You get new-to-you-clothes, and so do they, and all the clothes no one wants goes to Goodwill.
    3. – discount tickets to lots of events, if you want to go out on the town without breaking the bank.
    4. get credits for filling out surveys. You can cash them in for magazine subscriptions, Borders Rewards credits, movie tickets, and a whole bunch of other things. I have more magazine subscriptions than I can read in a month, and I haven’t paid cash for a single one.

    Perhaps this will be helpful to someone out there.

  7. Grad Student - Vanderbilt, Nashville-TN

    I agree 100% with Nikki!

  8. Benita

    So, I checked out e-rewards…Nikki if you come back here can you tell me how to get invited to be a member?

  9. Denise Hart

    Hi there!
    I love your topic and how you approach it. Right now I’m saving $800 each month. I haven’t had credit cards in 15 years. One of my issues is that I sometimes feel stress about spending money for vacations or other niceties. I’d like to have more peace about spending beyond necessities. I live a pretty much debt free life. Beyond cable, phone, car insurance, rent and internet I have one student loan payment of $100. Thanks for creating this blog. I’ll be back for valuable insights on what I might do for my own life and finances.

    The Motivation Mama!
    & founder, Words to Live By Tees

  10. Studenomics

    I purchased all of my christmas gifts ahead of time and paid for my December vacation back in the summer. I have made November pretty much my party free/luxury free month. I haven’t done anything special this month, just school, work and hang out with my girlfriend. I have saved enough money to the point that I may go on a second vacation in March. Nothing beats escaping the Canadian winter.

  11. Suicide

    wow…Nikki you are right and props for surviving on that income. I do agree that a lot of Americans don’t save much, but let me ask you this: you did all that on a $20k salary because you had to. If you lived on $60k/year in LA, would you have employed all your saving tactics. It’s great that you can get free audio equip. gently used…but if you can afford it and feel funny about owning something used (may be not audio equip. but perhaps a couch or clothes), why would you not go for it. That does not mean you are not being frugal, since I believe the true definition of frugal is living within your means…and as long as you can accomplish that, you are good. Ramit’s advice is directed more to people who live beyond their means or are not saving enough. If you have already mastered these savings tactics, then I doubt you can save $1k in a month (that’s 60% of $20k/yr on a monthly basis).

    That said, your tips are much appreciated, but please take into account the applicability of these tips. I may be wrong, but I doubt many people on this forum would actually swap clothes with friends that they hang out with (unless they had to do it out of necessity).

    Now, I’m Indian…so saving is in our blood (we call it “being smart”….Russell Peters anyone?). However, it always involves giving something up…which is why I like articles on increasing income rather than saving. The limiting quantity is not money, it’s time. You can spend it saving or spend it earning….the trick is to walk that fine line between the two to let you get the most bang for the “hour.”

  12. David

    I’ve saved a little over 1000 so far… 😀

    I’ve canceled all the monthly subscriptions i don’t need. I’ve used and got a dinning table for free. I take sack lunches to work which saves me about 50 a week. I just need to modify my system a little more and i’ll be able to save more. 😀

  13. Nikki

    @Benita: I guess e-Rewards is invite-only now. You have to be invited via one of the sponsors; the list of sponsors is here. Borders seems to be the easiest place to get an invite from.

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  18. Martina-Bierig

    Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

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  21. pcarbon

    I would also motivate just about every person to save this web page for any favorite assistance to assist posted the appearance.