Advertising
Advertising

Are You Spending or Investing Your Hard Earned Money?

Are You Spending or Investing Your Hard Earned Money?

According to Australian Millionaire, Tim Gurner, our inclination towards frivolous items such as Avocado Toast are the reason why millenials can’t afford to put a down payment on a home.

As outlandish as this observation may sound, there is some truth to it. I seriously doubt that your decision to eat avocados is going to deter you from ever buying a home. But the act of irresponsible spending certainly will. The future is some far-off, unknown entity, and those of us who like to live in the now tend to indulge instead of invest. And while that instant gratification feels oh so good, eventually it will catch up with us. We need to start planning ahead.

Don’t squander away your hard earned money

We’ve been hearing it over and over since we were children. Our parents would give us a small allowance and tell us, “don’t spend it all in one place.” We may have laughed it off, but they were trying to teach us a very valuable lesson: we need to spend our money wisely.

We have reached an era where adults between the age of 24-35, what used to be ample home-buying age, are not able to afford a home of their own. A number of factors contribute to this issue: Credit standards have become stricter, making it more difficult for people with faulty or no credit at all to get a loan. Student loans are on the rise, burying millenials in crippling debt. Lifestyle changes- people are delaying getting married and having children, no longer prioritizing this as their ultimate goal. Many millenials are not receiving salaries that make them able to afford a home; many of them are living hand to mouth. Individuals in this age group are inclined to move to inner cities, where the act of renting is more prevalent than buying.

Ultimately, you don’t have to save up your money in order to buy a flat or home. If that’s just not your style, then do what makes you happy. But still be aware of your spending habits. Like I said, you work hard for your money. By all means treat yourself, but also consider the time you’ve put into earning that cash. It won’t be instant, but investing in yourself now will pay off big time in the future.

Advertising

Avoid these money spending mistakes:

1. Don’t be a sucker for a seemingly “good deal.”

Imagine you’re in the market for a new television set, and you’ve narrowed it down to two choices. Both televisions are priced at $500, but one of them has been marked down from $800. Immediately you conclude that the one that has been marked down would be a better value. This thought process is known as Anchoring Bias. This means that we make decisions based on one piece of information (the anchor). In this case, the discount is the anchor. You don’t know why the store chose to discount this item, and what issues it may have.

I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of naming ourselves, “bargain shopper,” never being able to pass up a good deal or sale. Many of us fall victim to this marketing tactic during the holiday season. Everything is on sale! And since we can’t resist a good sale, we spend money we normally wouldn’t, on items we normally wouldn’t buy. The end result? We just end up with stuff. Stuff we don’t need, and doesn’t bring us any fulfillment. If anything it makes us feel empty, because everything new eventually loses it’s charm.

2. Buying the things we WANT, instead of what we NEED

Do you ever find yourself sifting through your bottomless closet, filled with nearly identical shirts and shoes, only to realize you have “nothing to wear? Shop Therapy make us feel good. But only momentarily. How good will you feel about those items when you realize you can’t pay your bills?

It is exciting to get something new, and in the moment, we believe that this new item will help to shape us into the person we want to be (this jacket makes me look professional, more people will take me seriously). But the truth is, these items won’t change us. And we’re likely to lose interest in them just after a few days.To avoid this dilemma, really consider how much you need an item before you buy it. Don’t buy it on impulse, wait until the next day and consider if you really need it. Chances are you’ll forget about the item.

3. Spending money we don’t have

You just got your first credit card, and your soaring high on the possibilities. You can just buy things without worrying about your account balance. So you buy. You buy until you max out your credit card. So what do you do? You apply for another credit card to support your spending habits. Next thing you know, you’ve racked up $20k in debt with no way to pay it off. Your credit score plummets and your phone is ringing off the hook with debt collectors.

Advertising

The money isn’t tangible, so you don’t feel any real loss as you’re spending. Credit cards make spending way too easy, and debt that much easier to fall into. You can easily miscalculate how much you can afford; or worse, go into denial about how much you’re spending.

This is why so many adults are buried in debt. Since they don’t physically see the money leaving their bank accounts, they’ve disassociated the loss that comes with spending.

4. Buying instead of investing

Say that you’re an Instagram star, promoting a vegan lifestyle and the benefits it provides. You could spend $1000 on a new hand bag, OR, you could spend that money on a Nutrition Certification Course. Consider which is more beneficial to you: buying an expensive handbag that you’ve had your eye on, or investing in something that could potentially further your progress in life?

Sure, you’ll get that temporary high from buying that handbag, flaunt it around and be the envy of the town. But as soon as you’ve felt that satisfaction, that handbag no longer benefits you. It’s old news. However, if you spend it on the Nutrition Course, you could be well on your way to expert status on a subject that truly interests you. That is a benefit that will pay off for years to come; well after that ragged old handbag fell apart and became useless.

Never let the instant gratification trump you from investing something more rewardable.

Advertising

5. Trying to “buy” a relationship.

Your relationship has been on the rocks for a while, and you’re not really sure how to show them that you care. So you buy them tokens of your affection, showering them with gifts. This may temporarily fix the tension in the relationship, but the core issue is still there.

If your partner is only with you because of what you can offer them materialistically, then you should know it isn’t real. You shouldn’t have to buy your friends or romantic partners with extravagant items. If your partners love for you is determined by how much you spend on them, then they don’t love you for you. They love your money and what it can get them.

You are buying the relationship; an investment that will ultimately end in loss.

6. Opting not to invest in Health Care.

You take great care of your body. You eat right, work out daily, and take all of your vitamins. You feel great! There’s no need for health insurance, your health is just fine. One day on one of your runs through the park, you slip on some mud, fall awkwardly, and fracture your neck. An ambulance picks you up and takes you to the hospital. They perform x-rays, cat-scans, keep you overnight for observation, and provide you with painkillers to alleviate your suffering. When all is said and done, you now owe the hospital just shy of $30k. Your health was in great shape, but you just can’t predict these things. If you had health insurance, you wouldn’t have to worry about these costs on top of your injury. But now you do.

Millenials may feel that they don’t need to waste their money on Health insurance, because they’re still young and still have plenty of energy to spare. Health isn’t the first priority, because time and age is still yet to take a toll on us. But before we know it, our bodies start to give out on us. We eventually will age, sending our energy levels and health on the decline.

Advertising

Now, health insurance or not, you need to seek medical attention. And without coverage, your payments will be astronomical. An issue you never would have dealt with if you just sucked it up and made the monthly payments. Maybe you don’t need it now. But someday you will.

Invest in yourself and the future, and the payout will be well worth the sacrifice

When you really break it down and consider what is important, you realize you don’t actually need very much. What do you actually need? Your health, food (if that includes avocado toast so be it), water and shelter (clothing optional, but for the purpose of social norms I suppose we’ll include that as well).

Featured photo credit: Mashable via google.com

More by this author

Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next