How to Increase Willpower

How to increase willpower

Welcome to the Personal Finance Roundtable, where we tackle some controversial money questions with the help of our favorite personal finance bloggers, once a month.

In the days of King Arthur, the roundtable signified the place where consequential ideas were discussed – hopefully over good food and good drinks. While we don’t yet have virtual food and drinks, we can at least create a place to discuss important topics related to your finances and get a wide range of viewpoints. So, without further ado, this month’s question is…

What is your favorite tip for improving willpower?

Philip Taylor from PT MoneyPhilip from PT Money: “My favorite tips in this area is to start by making one, small, simple change. Everyone has the power to change one thing that they routinely do. It’s also easy to stick to one change in your life compared to a big list of items. Your accomplishment with this one change will lead to more success in your life.”

Elle and Rob from Couple MoneyElle from Couple Money: “My tip on improving willpower is setting yourself for wins with a system. For myself, getting debt payments scheduled and automatically sent out helped me not only to take care of my small debts quickly, but encouraged me to keep it at it. Once I saw that it can be done, I tried to find more ways to save money so I could pay down debts faster. Making it automatic was the key to keeping me on track and motivated.”

MirandaMiranda from Planting Money Seeds: “Get a good night’s sleep. Being tired saps your ability to make good decisions, and it also drains your willpower. When you are well-rested, you are better able to practice self-discipline. Plus you feel more energetic.”


Average JoeJoe from The Free Financial Advisor: “We actually talked to productivity expert Laura Vanderkam about this on our 2 Guys & Your Money podcast this week! Her answer: tackle tough tasks in the morning. Willpower drains as the day goes on. That’s why people break diets, overdo it on alcohol and “accidentally” sleep with the wrong people at night instead of at 7 am.”

Greg-and-HollyGreg from Club Thrifty: “If you want to improve willpower with anything, I think the key is to make it fun. If you do something with the mindset that you “have” to do it, it always becomes work. Play a game with yourself. Challenge yourself. The more fun you have, the less you “have” to do, and the more willpower you’ll find.”

Dominique_BrownDominique from Your Finances Simplified: “My best tip for improving will power is to get a full night’s rest and make sure you eat! Sleep deprivation and hunger makes us susceptible to temptation. Self-control and discipline takes a lot of energy and brain power and if you are tired or hungry you won’t have enough of either to have any willpower.”

Planting Our PenniesMrs. PoP from Planting Our Pennies: “The best way to improve willpower is to create better habits, and the best book I know on that is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. To improve our habits, we need to get to the bottom of what reward we’re getting from them, and then change the habit based on that information. For example, is your afternoon cookie habit about eating a cookie, or needing 5 minutes away from your desk? Once you realize it’s more about getting away from your desk than the cookie, it’s a lot easier to give up the cookie!”

Michelle from See Debt RunMichelle from See Debt Run: “To improve your willpower as it relates to spending, I believe that looking at things from a more positive perspective can be helpful. When we were over our heads in credit card debt, I felt so depressed about it that I was unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once you start to look at how much you already have, you can begin to let go of those negative feelings and start working towards your goals. Also, be willing to ask for help! Some people have crazy willpower and gumption, but some might need to borrow strength from friends and family. Hopefully, families who have debt can draw strength from reading about ordinary people like my husband and myself. We are 7 weeks away from being consumer debt-free! We started off just 1 year ago having almost $22,000 on our credit cards, and we are digging out on one income… and we have 3 little ones! If we can do it, anyone can! When we were just starting out, reading about other people that have taken control of their finances was really helpful and motivating. If you’re reading ReadyForZero and the other helpful, informative finance blogs out there, you’re on the right track to improving your spending willpower! Now, “cookie willpower” on the other hand? I have no idea how to improve that. I welcome all tips.”

What about you? Tell us how you improve your willpower!

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  • Laurie

    Wow, guys! All inspiring and motivating tips! Thanks for sharing. I feel ready to face the day!

  • Great tips everyone!
    I find it interesting that some people seem to have almost no will power while others have it in spades. I guess it is like most things and can be learned or at the very least practiced until you get better at it.

    • That is very interesting, isn’t it? It certainly seems like something that can be learned. Just like many other things, it probably has a nature and nurture component to it. By the way, if you’d like to join our personal finance roundtable let me know.

  • TB at

    That was an awesome post. It’s awesome hearing from all these bloggers in one spot! Cool dude! SEeing that everyone has slightly different ways to get/keep willpower tells me that the answer might be alittle different for everyone…so try stuff out and figure out what works!

    • So glad you liked it! I agree – it’s really interesting to see all the different ways people approach this topic. By the way, if you are interested in joining our personal finance roundtable, let me know.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    Great tips all! I am big on getting a night’s sleep and eating a good breakfast. This can be immensely helpful in clearing your head so you can remain strong and make good decisions.

    • Yes, those two things can make a surprisingly large difference in how you deal with tough decisions. If you’re interested in joining our personal finance roundtable, let me know.

  • Great list you compiled here Ben. My favorite is Mrs PoPs’ advice, behavioral change is much easier if you know why you do what you do.