In this case, knowledge is definitely power. "The road to health is almost always paved with mindfulness and awareness," says Silvestri. "Once we recognize what is driving our spending choices, we can begin to change our habits."
But the next crucial step is to make saving money feel really appealing, even if that means allowing yourself small indulgences here and there. Resisting our hardwired urge for instant gratification is only going to make this new habit feel that much less motivating, so its best to strategically lean into it, says Silvestri—kind of like leaving room for cheat meals after adopting a healthier diet.
"Too much deprivation leads to overconsumption, which corrects to more deprivation, and so a self-perpetuating loop of suffering begins," she says. "In a way, the secret sauce of financial health mirrors any other kind: Attaining a good enough mix of immediate reward and future-oriented, longer-term decision-making."
Figuring out what that mix looks like to you may take some time, and certainly a little trial and error. I learned, for example, that I really don't miss my gym membership, but that eating out a couple times per week is a ritual I'd like to maintain. It also helps to see this as an opportunity to declutter your life of any habits and expenses that aren't serving you. In other words, you're Marie Kondo–ing your bank account.
"I am always a big advocate of keeping things gratifying enough in the here and now as the key to being purposeful about your future," says Silvestri. But don't ignore the long-term rewards either. "Because there is great incentive to push off until tomorrow what you would rather not do today, it’s easy to keep forestalling saving," she adds. "Once you've consciously recognized your interest in saving now, not tomorrow, you can keep that link going by peppering your world with concrete cues and reminders."
That might mean filling your Pinterest boards with images of a vacation spot or your dream house. But don't discount the motivational appeal of seeing your funds swell, either: These days, my savings account is sparking all kinds of joy.