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Savings Trial Results and Hedonic Adaptation

Posted by Fred Tracy January 23rd, 2012 25 Comments

Woo hoo! I’m finally done with my 14-day savings trial. If you’ve read that article, then you know the purpose was to limit my spending as much as possible (as in, no spending except on absolutely necessary items). And while I’ve done just that, what surprised me was how easy it was to limit that spending. I didn’t expect it to take a Herculean effort or anything, but I didn’t expect it to be so easy either. Sure, the first few days were a little rough, but my body and mind quickly adjusted, and I’m stronger and healthier for it.

Coincidentally enough, after I started the trial, I came across a fascinating article with an even more fascinating title,  ”What is Hedonic Adaptation and How Can it Turn You Into a Sukka?

After discovering this article, I realized why it was so easy to be just as happy as I was before even while severely limiting my “fun” activities.

What is Hedonic Adaptation?

I won’t go into a lot of detail because the article I linked to does that anyway, but I’ll give you a quick summary. Although many agree that money can’t buy happiness, few people understand exactly why. That’s what hedonic adaptation is all about.

Let’s say you suddenly when the lottery. Chances are, your happiness levels are going to skyrocket. They’ll increase even more as you buy your first McMansion and settle into a nice Mercedes or other luxury car of choice. But what happens a month later? And a year later? As it turns out, you will be the same exact person you were before, with all your problems, solutions, worries, and joys – just in fancier surroundings.

Money doesn’t buy us happiness because we quickly become accustomed to our surroundings, no matter what they are. We take them for granted. For a while there I was used to wasting lots of money on fast food and some unnecessary purchases. Then, a few days into the trial, I found that I adapted. I created different ways of having fun that didn’t cost any money. I was soon just as happy or even happier than my former self, plus I was able to save lots of money.

If you really understand this principle then you have gained some powerful insight into what does and does not create human happiness.

Improve Your Life

There are lots of ways to add this concept into your life. Chances are that you enjoy a lot of things you don’t really need. If the cost of keeping those things could better be spent elsewhere, like if you have debt or want to be financially free, consider cutting those expenses and letting yourself adapt to a new lifestyle.

It helps if you do this by committing to a 14 day trial, or better yet a month-long trial. This will ensure that you don’t wuss out during the initial adjustment phase, which can be rough depending on what you’re cutting out. If you make it the entire length of your trial without cheating even once, you’ll soon realize that you didn’t need any of that junk after all. Your wallet and your health will think you.

As a side note, you may have noticed that I haven’t written a post in a pretty long time (2 weeks). The reason for that is I started feeling like I was obligated to post regularly to keep traffic levels up. I started feeling like a sort of slave to the blog, where my emotional ups and downs would mirror the wildly fluctuating, often unreliable traffic graph in my WordPress stats. If I wanted to keep doing a “good job” I had to keep writing content, even when I had nothing to say.

If you’re a blogger, I’m sure you can relate to this. One of the most difficult things to do as a blogger is to keep coming up with fresh content. While I could definitely write tons of quality articles if I really forced myself, in truth, a lot of times there isn’t any need for that. While I’m sure my traffic will somewhat suffer as a result, I’ve already written about most of the things that are really important on here here.

When I come up with something new and fresh I’ll definitely let you know (I’m fascinated with self-sufficiency skills like carpentry and sewing currently), but in the meantime, you already know what to do – chill out, meditate every once in a while, and enjoy yourselves. That’s what I’ll be doing too. :)

Also, don’t forget to connect with me so you can keep updated with all my super awesome content. Bonus points if you click the StumbleUpon button below.

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25 Responses so far.

  1. David says:

    I definitely need to do something like this. Part of me wants to be free and easy when it comes to spending money, but another part of me knows that it stupid if I am spending it on stuff that will just clutter up my life.

    In regards to forcing posts, I know what you mean. I forced posts for the first year of my blog. The result was me getting burnt out every 2-3 months and wanting to shut the blog down completely. I think I’ve finally gotten to a point where I will post only if I want to write about something. Ironically this has resulted in 3 posts in just this past week, but I’m not forcing it so I’m okay with that.

    Holler Fred.
    David recently posted..Wow, Can’t Believe We Used to Do ThatMy Profile

    • Fred Tracy says:

      !!! I didn’t know that let go and flow was back up and operational. Awesome!

      Yeah, forcing posts isn’tfun. Plus, we create the illusion of value. I mean, I could come up with something that is helpful or whatever everyday if I had to, but it would be something that is available anywhere. I’m looking to only share stuff that I feel is truly unique and great. That takes a lot more time, but it will make my site a lot more valuable in the long term.

      I know what you mean about wanting to write a lot when we let go of those blocks. I wanted to write more than I have in a long time when I decided to only post that I really want to. How funny.

      • David says:

        Haha yes its back up and running. We’ll see how long it lasts. I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of stuff so I’m kinda filled up with ideas for the moment.

        But like you said, I need to be careful that I’m not just regurgitating information that is already out there. I mean, its not a bad thing to spread ideas we believe in, but if we aren’t creating unique things, then we are limiting the amount of value we are bringing to the table.
        David recently posted..The Source of America’s Biggest ProblemsMy Profile

  2. To Fred:

    Adapting to a change that saves you money is always a good thing. But, this is not why I’m leaving a comment.

    I’m leaving a comment because I want to discuss blogging. As a blogger myself, I find it very difficult to come up with fresh-’new’-content. However, though it maybe hard, there is always something to talk about.

    Especially, due to the fact that your blog url address is “fredtracy” and not something that is geared towards a specific niche – you can talk about ANYTHING!

    I think bloggers get stuck on this one-mind synopsis where you have to focus on one particular niche. Don’t. Adapt. Change. Stop being accustomed to what you do. (;
    Jonathan Gaurano recently posted..Is Your Relationship Stunting Your Personal Growth?My Profile

    • Fred Tracy says:

      Hah, I really like that. That’s a great point. I’ve also changed my header thanks to graphic design friend I have, and I’ve added some little bonus words like simplicity and wisdom in there. That should serve to allow me to expand upon topics that aren’t necessarily just growth, growth, growth.

      Thanks. :-)

  3. Congrats on finishing the trial Fred! Although in some ways I’m kind of high maintenance, I actually simplified my life a great deal years ago. I live in a small apartment, so having or hanging on to stuff I don’t need is out. I live in the city, so don’t have or need a car (it’s actually ridiculous to have one if you live in the city). I can and love to walk most places. I shop at a little corner grocery store. A only buy clothes when I need them (the definition of “need” may be different for different people, but I don’t own a crap load of clothes. For one, I don’t have the closet space). Certainly, I have much fewer monthly expenses than I did when I lived in the US, but I feel that my quality of life has gone up. Go figure. :)

    Thanks for sharing your insights!

    Melody | Deliberate Receiving recently posted..How To Inspire SomeoneMy Profile

    • Fred Tracy says:

      You? High maintenance? I never would’ve suspected. :P

      Yeah, I kind of live in the country halftime and the city halftime. To that end, I’ve purchased a nice U-lock for my bicycle, and I’m just going to leave it locked up at my friend’s apartment for when I need it. I suspect I’ll rarely if ever have to actually drive my car around in the city. Well, except to deliver mail on occasion, but that’s it! Then, I’m going to get a really efficient car, and maybe even a motorcycle or scooter – but that’s farther off.

      Today, it’s bike time. :-)

      Thanks Melody!

  4. Fred,
    I’ve been trying to save money too. It’s easier than I thought as well. You just don’t go out! And, if you do go out don’t spend money, right?
    Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition recently posted..Going Without Goals. An Update in the Year of the DragonMy Profile

  5. Steve Rice says:

    This is a powerful realization, Fred. Thanks for sharing it.

    I have noticed this adaptability before when moving from lesser to greater (and back to lesser) levels of financial and material success. But I had never thought of it in this way.

    This is why, in my estimation, it is so important to live congruently and create a well-lived life no matter one’s external circumstances.
    Steve Rice recently posted..Let’s Play Big, You and I. (Gain Clarity. Find Purpose. Pursue Passion)My Profile

    • Fred Tracy says:

      Absolutely! “Stuff” really isn’t important. To quote an overused cliché, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”.

      Corny, but true!

  6. Hey Fred,

    Great post you shared here. Money is a a foundational struggle for many families. So it was refreshing to hear about your exercise and the success that came from it.

    I also wanted to get bonus points by clicking StumbleUpon, but you hadn’t submitted it yet. That’s something you’ll want to do first since it establishes your StumbleUpon SEO.

    Glad to see another StumbleUpon fan, would love to help you promote your site there.

    Bryce Christiansen recently posted..How To Blow Your Interview: Just 6 Little LettersMy Profile

    • Fred Tracy says:

      ! Thanks for that advice, I had no idea I needed to submit it first. I mean, I feel like I knew, but it didn’t cross my mind. You rock.

      Yeah, I think we have way more money than we think we do, which is hidden by unnecessary spending. I actually went out to eat after I finished this experiment, and I just felt terrible. It was really cheap, like six bucks, but there was no reason for that expenditure. I made myself put it in my Open Office spreadsheet (also free lol) and I haven’t been out to eat since, nor do I intend to.

      Saving money feels good!

  7. Hey Fred,

    I know what you mean about feeling the need to write regularly. However, I figured it would be best for my sanity if I posted when something I thought my readers would be interested in reading came to mind. I know that sporadic posting isn’t good for generating lots of traffic but in my mind I’m giving of my time and energy for my blog and getting no financial gain in return. Hopefully people who don’t blog will understand what it takes to run a blog.
    Todd | Channelingmyself recently posted..Lions and Tigers and 2012, OH MY!My Profile

  8. pea says:

    Ah, Fred, I was only just saying to myself today, that whatever I do with blogging I have to enjoy myself doing it. Whatever one’s goals are, (because often you end up forcing posts to meet a set goal), it should still be fun, otherwise what is the point?

    I have known bloggers with hundreds of comments regularly just give up the ghost and shut down. If they were enjoying what they were doing and equally doing it at an enjoyable pace they would not have burnt out and ultimately rejected their blog. The blog was not really the problem. Their choices were.
    pea recently posted..You’re BeautifulMy Profile

  9. EleonoraEOF says:

    Hello there,
    thanks for such a useful info. Yes, money is something with what a lot of people struggle. Mostly in these days of crisis, and a lot of people still think that they have more money than they think they do, which is hidden by unnecessary spending.
    EleonoraEOF recently posted..Now Eat This! Diet Review by Rocco DiSpiritoMy Profile

  10. Alice says:

    I lived on very little money for a few years. The great thing about this limit is that you learn what you actually “need” and what you don’t need. So now that I have more money I still don’t spend it on “unnecessary” stuff. Also I can appreciate it a lot more now when I afford “luxury” (=unnecessary) items.
    Alice recently posted..Managing Different InterestsMy Profile

    • Fred Tracy says:

      True that. I’m in a similar situation where I’m making more now, due to more work being available. I honestly only spend like maybe 1/5th of my coming paycheck, per month, which is a really good place to be, savings-wise. I’m planning to buy a house soon so that figure will get a little less awesome, but I’ll still save much more than I make!

    • Morgan says:

      Hey, Alice, was it the same as ascetism?

  11. That’s a very good job that you are doing with saving and cutting back doing a budget, which a lot of us spend on unecesary things! Like me, I tend to focus on investing my money as well, and trying to focus from cutting back!Continue what you’re doing, and I know it’s will majority pay off in the future!
    Tyler J.Logan recently posted..If you don’t like someone or something ( stop fooling with that individual or thing)My Profile

  12. Derek says:

    Hi Fred,
    It’s great that you’ve noticed that we get used to our circumstances. We adopt. That can be a good or a bad thing. Good because we can be happy with what we have. Bad because we might become complacent.
    Derek recently posted..35% down to buy an investment property?!My Profile

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