Our minds are more than spreadsheets

After a year of holding back on festivals, plays, or going out without concern about a deadly virus, many of us will spend beyond our limits if we don't prepare for the powerful emotions that will sweep through us.

Our minds are not just based on mathematical equations but mixed up with feelings, reactions, and mental shortcuts. Behavioural economics identified over 100 ways people from all walks of life fail to think straight when it comes to money.

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Money

Why you might feel the urge to overspend right now

vox.com

One factor that will determine how we behave is where we fall on the cold or hot state of the spectrum.

A hot state is when our emotions like fear or exhaustion take over. We are so eager for something that we will grab it the moment it becomes possible. Over the last year, an enormous amount of pressure has been built up. We are about to enter a massive hot state as the pandemic shifts.

Our cold, higher thinking is slow thinking, and hot thinking is fast thinking.

As humans, we struggle to balance the two thinking processes. In a hot state, we have an enormous desire to want. We want to buy impulsively with no concern for our future selves. As countries reopen, the hot states will strike intensely and be very dangerous for our budgets.

  • If you think you won't fall for a hot state, you might rely on your restraint bias - the bias that makes you overestimate your ability to resist impulsive behaviour.
  • If you think because you've been so good by limiting yourself, you deserve a little bit of indulgence, that's moral licensing.
  • You may have to be careful of the bandwagon effect, where you jump in and spend like the rest because all the cool kids are doing it.

But when we are aware of these biases, we can use the opportunity for self-agency.

Pay attention to the moral licensing words, "I deserve it because..." The permission-giving has some truth to it, but then there's future you that also deserves the good.

  • In order to satisfy both worlds, set aside some cash now that is safe to spend without putting yourself in financial danger.
  • Create some cooling space between you and spending. Try to wait 24 hours before buying something unplanned.
  • Find a photo representing something you're working toward getting in a year or a few years. Make that your phone's home screen to remind yourself of the bigger picture.

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