My wife has a weakness. That weakness is called Lindt Chocolate Truffles. They are so enjoyable she has been known to camouflage her consumption. “Oh, I bought these for our guests. I will put them in the guest room.” Yet, somehow, the bowl in the guest room goes empty, and no one has stayed with us in FOUR MONTHS. Now, I promise sharing this example is not me giving my wife a hard time; in fact, we laugh about it now and openly share this story.
Laura repeatedly told me that she wanted to implement healthier habits and was frustrated with how all of her clothing, “mysteriously shrank.” Since the same thing happened to all of my clothing in my 30’s, I could totally sympathize. However, at the same time, she was also enjoying the “guests” chocolatey treats because they were easily accessible.
One day, after I found a pile of truffle wrappers, I took matters into my own hands. I grabbed the surplus of chocolates and hid them. Yup…insert gasp here. I wasn’t sure what the repercussions of my actions would be, but it was with good intentions. What I had done was create an Artificial Scarcity of chocolates. They were not gone forever; instead, they were simply out of sight not to be consumed just because they were available.
Less chocolate Available = Less Chocolate Consumed
Artificial Scarcity is the situation in which you reduce the amount of something in one place by sheltering the surplus somewhere else. The idea is that you now pretend, hence the artificial part, that the sheltered amount is not available to you.
When it comes to money, something many people struggle with is to save enough. That is because the majority of our income arrives directly into our primary checking account. It’s like a bowl full of chocolate. When your daily and monthly spending decisions occur with all of your income, you are likely to spend more. Artificial Scarcity involves setting up recurring and automatic money transfers away from your primary spending account. The result:
Less money Available = Less Money Spent
Another benefit of Artificial Scarcity is that it forces you to prioritize spending decisions. Since less money is available, you will be more selective with where it goes, and this will allow you to be more purposeful with your decisions.
OK, so I know you want to know what the outcome was of hiding those chocolates?! After the initial shock of my bold move, Laura appreciated that I hid the chocolates because, ultimately, they did not align with her health goals. She definitely had a lot of fun trying to find them, and eventually did. And it serves us as a fun reminder that we can absolutely have chocolate anytime we want; we just make sure it’s because we actually want it, not because it’s readily available to us. The same goes for our spending and savings habits. We use automation to fuel our priorities first, so we are not tempted to over-consume on things that don’t align with our financial goals.