As a financial educator for over a decade, I’ve heard the phrase “I couldn’t hold back… I bought it” countless times. And more: I confess that I’ve used it a few times, punishing myself rigidly for not having controlled myself. Until I started my studies on behavioral economics and realized that there was nothing wrong with me (phew!).
Preferring the pleasure of the now to the detriment of future benefit is a pattern of human behavior. Giving in to temptation makes me like other people, but it also puts me at financial risk.
So, the way is to learn to control this behavior by creating incentive mechanisms (triggers) that help me in the moment of temptation. Below are some suggestions.
1st tip: a picture of your dream
Think of something you really want to acquire, a dream to come true. Look for an image, a photo that represents this dream (a house, for example) and save it on your cell phone or in a very easy to find place.
Every time you feel the urge to buy something else, look at this photo or image and ask yourself: is it worth postponing the realization of this dream to acquire this “temptation”?
2nd tip: hours of work x temptation
Reflect on the value of that temptation: is that value expensive or cheap for you? The best way to answer this question is to know how many hours of work you need to put in to buy what you want.
The calculation is simple: divide your monthly income by the number of hours worked in the month. The result corresponds to how much you earn per hour worked. This is the value you should take as a reference to decide if something is expensive or cheap for your reality.
For example, let’s say you earn $4,000 a month, working 8 hours a day, five days a week. Then the account will be:
[4000 / (8 x 5 x 4)] = 4000 / 160 = 25
This means you earn R$25 per hour worked. Now, ask yourself: how many hours do you need to work to buy something that costs R$ 100? Would the pleasure provided by such a purchase be worth a full shift of work?
3rd tip: counting money
Leave the house only with the money you need for the day, don’t carry a credit card in your wallet.
Thus, you will be forced to come back another day to buy that “temptation” giving you time to forget, ponder, resist or give up on the purchase.
4th tip: double security
Turn on the dual security option for digital payments (like Pix). In addition to reinforcing your security, this measure makes the purchase process take more time and patience. For the most anxious, the power of “temptation” weakens.
The importance of education and financial planning is indisputable, so much so that since 2020 this content has become mandatory in schools across the country. Many have talked about it; however, it is necessary to clarify that financial education is not a mathematical issue, but a behavioral process.
Therefore, we need to talk about the relationship we have with money and create triggers that will help us in this process.