Behavioral Finance

Personal Finances: It’s Time to Dig Deeper

2020: It’s Time to Dig Deeper

In 2020, The Most Hated F-Word will be focusing on what I feel is a critical ingredient often overlooked in personal finances.  Generally, discussions around money circle around two different things: making more money and spending less money. But aren’t we missing something?

In Kyle Cease’s book, “The Illusion of Money” he said something that profoundly impacted my view on money. Get out the highlighter here:

“Why do rich Americans seek to find happiness from Buddhist Monks, but yet the opposite never happens?”

It’s so true!

How often do we hear about a burnt-out Silicon Valley CEO take off and try to find peace because their life is in chaos? What a paradox! These CEOs have everything we seem to be chasing: money, influence, power and unlimited resources, but many become miserable. It’s heartbreaking, really. We too often sacrifice our time, health and freedom in the pursuit of money, and then the money ends up owning us.

Let’s take a different perspective in 2020. Let’s shift our focus towards things that we can control. And what is that? Ourselves.

Here’s an example John Armstrong uses from “How to Worry Less About Money”. Say you have a 15-year-old car. It’s a little beat up. The fender is cracked, the windshield looks like an anvil was dropped on it, the inside looks like a toddler’s bedroom, and the oil hasn’t been changed for months. Despite its imperfections, it’s reliable and has never broken down. You can’t afford a new car right now, but your brain is constantly nagging you telling you that you need a new car; you’re sure that you will take care of a new one. In fact, you’re so focused on needing to upgrade that you even start to spite people with new cars because you are jealous.

Instead of spend time car shopping (or whatever your ‘car’ thing is), imagine taking some time to really sit back and focus on the thing that is preoccupying your brain to figure out what you are really concerned about.

Could it be that the car is a reminder that you keep putting things off or that you don’t take care of your things?

The car might just be a reflection of a part of your character that you might not like. And buying a new car might just be a band aid fix—a do over. We are such an incredibly intelligent species, but yet how many times do we trick our minds to think this action is rational. Isn’t it a little delusional to think that if we have never taken care of our vehicle, we will change our actions with a new one?

How often do we do this with our finances? We tell ourselves that this is going to be the year. 2020 is the year I change everything. We know how this script plays out.

What if the best financial action this year is to truly discover our money relationship? What kind of power can we gain over our money when we start to control our feelings and emotions around money?

Take a some time to answer this question: “Do I have a positive or negative relationship with money?”

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