money health weekly


Save Your Willpower


"Willpower is humans' greatest strength. Save it for emergencies."

-Roy Baumeister


I'm sitting at my desk drawing toilet stalls. This is my job - my internship, really. I work for a company that supplies construction sites with all the stuff they need to install. Part of that is toilet partitions, and I'm the person who demonstrates how the partitions will fit in the bathrooms.

It's payday and I have to save some of this money. It's not because I want to (or need to) save for the future. That doesn't even occur to me. I live in Minnesota and the company is a small firm in North Dakota. For reasons I don't understand, I don't have taxes withheld from my paychecks. No federal income taxes, no state income taxes, no Social Security taxes, and no Medicare taxes.

I fancy myself a personal finance guy. I read personal finance magazines in my spare time. I believe I've hit the jackpot! I'm not going to lend my money for free to governments. No. I'm going to save money myself, earn interest, and then pay my bills when it comes time.

But alas, tax day comes the next year and I don't have any money. It's difficult to have to make that savings decision 26 times in a year. If I would have asked to have taxes withheld from my check - or any other automated system - I wouldn't have had to make any decisions and I wouldn't be in this position.

Making financial decisions is hard in the face of temptation. There are ways to win that battle, though.

spend time to save time

Making Decisions Isn't Free

It's funny to think about, but making decisions isn't free. It's easy to think that it costs nothing to make a choice. But, it's' a little known fact that decisions take mental effort. The more decisions we have to make the more mental effort we have to exert. We lose physical stamina. We can feel fatigued and distracted after making too many decisions. It takes a lot of work. That's why you sometimes feel drained after a busy day of work. Each time we make a decision we lose some of our mental capacity.