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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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