I have a younger brother. He’s 17 years old and will be a senior in high school soon. We were recently talking about saving money and the conversation shifted to his missed opportunity to have purchased a car by now. I’ve been encouraging him to start saving since he was 15.
You know how teenagers are. They can’t see past next week.
Anything beyond the now is impossible to fathom; spending now, Facebook now, and Snapchat now. That’s what holds his attention these days.
While he agreed my point was valid, he continued to make excuses for not saving.
I’m his older brother. I’m that guy that constantly reminds him to put money in the bank. He hasn’t yet and feels bad that about it. I feel bad for him, but I know he’s not alone. 47% of Americans do not save any money.
We should save. Sure. Not saving may not be your fault.
Personal finances is a psychological thing. Something in your brain tells you to save or spend everything. Even if that means spending everything down to your last dollar.
Advertising and marketing is a multi-billion dollar business. Geniuses devise clever strategies to convince you to buy their product – whether you need it or not. They have focus groups and do market testing. They offer extra incentives like bonus points on your credit card to get you to spend more.
This is what consumers are up against.
Let’s put this in perspective. The average person watches over 30 hours of television every week. According to the LA Times, every hour now contains over 15 minutes of commercials. If you do the math, that adds up to 7.5 hours of commercials on average every week or almost 400 hours every year.
That’s a lot. Even if less than half of them are original commercials that specifically to target you, the persuasive onslaught can really mess with your savings train of thought.
Now let’s add Facebook to the conversation. They use high-tech algorithms and technological magic to put ads in front of you that you are more likely to be interested in based on your browsing history. Facebook pays attention to the things you view and talk about.
In addition to the advertising industry, the people you hang around with also play a role. I love this quote,
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” ~Jim Rohn
Many of us do not spend most of our time with 5 financially savvy people .
When was the last time a friend said, “Hey, we should put this money in the bank and save for retirement.” Right? That’s not what my friends say either. I’m not trying to speak ill of your friends. What I am saying is that only surrounding yourself with people who are fiscally irresponsible will rub off on you.
Surround yourself, to some extent, with people who have similar financial goals to your own
Some are naturally good with money. Others were exposed to financial concepts growing up. Sill others have learned to improve their financial literacy. Generally, these people hang out with friends who are financially savvy as well.
So one key to financial success is to be like them.
If you don’t know anyone like this, then use the great big World Wide Web and social media to your advantage.
I’m running a social experiment with a client to help him improve his financial awareness. I asked him to like five or more financial Facebook pages. When he is currently on Facebook, all he sees is his friends, entertainment, and of course the aforementioned advertisements.
After liking five financial pages, every time he’s on Facebook his feed will include posts from pages that share financial advice or savings tips. This will help him think regularly about his finances.
The more financial pages you like, the more good, relevant content will see continually. I also recommend going to these pages and setting up alerts to view each new post at the top of your feed. Facebook algorithms only show you what they think you want to see. Setting alerts tell Facebook the content from these page is something want to see.
I personally don’t have 5 or more financially savvy people in my social circle. Instead, I listen to podcasts of people that are financially savvy. Podcasts are awesome because every single day you can listen to one learn something new; helping your improve your financial literacy.
I listen to Chris Brown’s True Stewardship podcast. He does try to sell you products and I don’t honestly agree with EVERYTHING he says but the content is good and he does have an episode everyday which keeps my mind sharp and thinking about my finances in general.
Before I go to sleep, I look online for something interesting. For example I google how to build credit or creative ways to save.
YouTube is another excellent tool for improving your financial IQ. I’ve found helpful information about how to save up for retirement or setting up an IRA. You can subscribe to these channels and receive updates when new videos are posted.
Using these tools works for my clients. It works for me. It will work for you too. Saving money is a learned skill that can be mastered.