Students go to school to learn, yes? Why not use what we learn in school to quickly apply it to our own lives as we go? For example, a student takes a freshman-level psychology course and is learning about the concept of impulsivity and methods by which people overcome impulses (whether they're simple day-to-day impulses, or those controlling the lives of individuals with psychological disorders). Memories are formed based on association. The greater the emotional reaction there is to an object or event, the greater the memory storage will be for that event or object. That being said, it would make sense for students to quickly think about sources of impulsivity in their own lives and make a correlation. It would be wise for a student to note their own impulsivity when it comes to spending habits, specifically. Now that the association has been made, it would be a great use of resources to simply apply what the student has just learned about managing impulses, and apply it to their own financial situation.
Personally, I took a few approaches to saving money. First, I would leave credit cards at home, and only carry cash in circumstances I knew there was a high probability of me overspending. When people physically see money disappearing, we tend to spend less. This was absolutely true for me. I would constantly start to ask myself, do I really need this?
I noticed that I frequently wasted money on energy drinks and other items at gas stations nearly every day. I looked at my bank statements and added up these items. It was sickening how much I was spending on these caffeine-filled drinks when really all I needed was to drink more water, eat more fruit, and perhaps get more sleep. Once that spending habit was eliminated, it converted to great savings.
I started investing at the age of 12 under the guidance of my legal guardian. For years to come, I got in the habit of always asking my parents before I made any withdrawals from any of my accounts. They would ask what I needed it for, and I would be forced to justify my spending immediately. Oftentimes, it was irrational, and this helped developed my thinking process in regards to spending, and control my impulsivity.
During college, I would have 30% of each of my checks deposited into accounts only in one of my parent's name. Out of sight, out of mind. The accounts quickly added up, and when it came time to make student loan payments, or an insurance deductible, I was covered.
I have always been a person that likes to physically see the money adding up, so I used an old post office box my aunt gave me to put coins and extra cash into to save. I loved seeing it fill up. Soon, I built myself a much larger one. Now it was like a challenge to see if I could fill it up, and how quickly I could do so. Going without that energy drink at the gas station so I could fill up my money box instead didn't seem bad at all. It was fun. This method of saving actually was one of the most effective for me. Instead of simply not purchasing the energy drinks and unnecessary items at the gas stations, I would actually put those dollar amounts in my money box every single time. I was spending the money on savings. That fixed my craving to "spend" while simultaneously creating savings!
Finally, one very important source of savings for me came from reducing my carbon footprint. I switched my lightbulbs to LED to save on electricity, never used AC when it wasn't needed, always walked to places instead of driving when a car really wasn't necessary, never let the water run, don't leave lights on, planted an organic garden with fruits and veggies which saved on groceries in addition to gas from reduced traveling (as well as frequently searching for coupons), etc. I'm a biologist, and so reducing my carbon footprint is very important to me. It's quite nice that by helping improve the environment I'm also saving money.
The overall lesson I learned from all of this is that discipline really does equal freedom. By staying disciplined now, we're able to create so much freedom for ourselves later.