Most of us have issues with change… out brains are wired to keep us safe, in comfort. Often, we’re particularly challenged with changes needed on the financial front – unless of course it’s a big fat pay rise and promotion heading your way!!
A reluctance to cut your losses and sell down a losing investment is one thing, but have you ever felt resistant to any form of financial change? Bucking at the smallest tweaks you know are necessary?
Maybe you just really don’t want to sit down and do your budget, perhaps you don’t want to put extra funds into your retirement savings, you don’t want to cut out that unnecessary expense, or take the time to research that new credit card or loan that might offer better benefits at a lower interest rate.
This behaviour is pretty widespread, and what behavioural economists classify as the “status quo bias.” While you may not want to upset your emotional apple cart, at times it’s definitely in your best interest to do so. And like in all areas of change, starting in baby steps is always a good idea.
Shouldn’t you cancel that gym membership you never use, but keep paying for anyway because you figure maybe someday you’ll be motivated enough to go? Perhaps, instead of cancelling your membership outright, start off small by freezing your account for one month. See how much you really miss it and if you’re motivated to start heading back and hitting the weights. Otherwise, why hold on?
That morning heart-starter coffee you stop by your local for every single morning, can you cut it back to three days a week, then two… maybe even as a weekly treat?
Not only are incremental steps less likely to trigger your worry of regret or fear of the unknown, but they allow you to assess your feelings along the way to see how you’re coping with the change.
If after a month you prefer to revert to the way things were, there’s really no harm done, although you may also find that making smart, small and calculated changes isn’t as scary as you thought it would be.
As for big picture changes—like reworking your superannuation savings plan or assessing your investment progress, pick strategic times of the year to analyse your strategies. The new financial year in July may be a good time to revisit your options. Should you then review your health insurance or salary sacrifice arrangements? A new calendar year may call for a simple new resolution. Easter holidays may be a time to revisit what you’ve set in motion.
What works for you? And shake it up and keep it interesting! That’s the best way to stay on track.