Like many people, my 30s have been a time for some serious growing up. Hoping to mature into a more thoughtful, restrained person (financially and otherwise), I spoke with a therapist who offered this simple advice for any situation: “Before you jump in, ask yourself, ‘How do I want to feel tomorrow?’” Anticipating how a decision might affect me both physically and emotionally the day after gave me a new perspective. Sure, the bar was open, but did I want to live through a day of head pounding regret? Not really. Did I need to load up on cheap Italian food when visiting family in New Jersey? Probably not worth the shame spiral and grumbling stomach.
Fast-forwarding to tomorrow did more than steer me away from hangovers and food comas. Looking toward the future—even if it was only the next day—made minding my money easier too. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when my savings account stood at $0—and it had been that way since I opened it years before. I had “good” excuses for not saving. My Washington, D.C., rent was too damn high. I couldn’t afford groceries for today and saving for tomorrow. I would save more when I made more. (Yet there always seemed to be money for travel, clothes, and happy hours.) But asking myself if that cute new romper was worth sacrificing the self-satisfaction I’d gain tomorrow if I instead put that money in my savings account almost always led me to choose the more prudent option.