can financial behavior change


Have you ever bought a lottery ticket? Have you ever used a coupon? Have you ever incurred non-mortgage debt? If you haven’t ever, will you ever, just to try it? Just to see where it takes you?

I have some financial behavior that is set in stone. You do, too, I bet.  Me?  I hate debt of any sort. I can’t stand seeing money spent on “fancy” cars, even though I’ve owned several nice new mid-range cars. On the other hand, I am careless about spending money on eating out. I can spend money on big-ticket items if I think they benefit health or quality of living, but I agonize over spending smaller amounts on items I might not “need” – think “new shoes”, for example.

Most behavior is learned. Some is not. I know where I got the idea that money spent on “going out” was money well spent. I know where I got the idea that any money spent on books was money well spent, too. I also know why I think ANY debt is awful, and why I get antsy about buying expensive (but hopefully good quality clothes). Most of these behaviors were learned at a young age, and they fit in with the world view I developed as an adolescent and voila – now these money behaviors are part of what define me.

I often wonder if I will ever apply for a $300,000 small business loan, or splash out on a BMW. It’s easier to imagine the loan than the car, I guess. I drive an almost 10-year-old Pontiac because I just don’t care about cars. It has an air conditioner and a CD player, and it makes – for an old car – acceptable mileage. The loan? If I was suddenly struck by inspiration to start a coffee shop or a hardware store or something like that, maybe… but it would be so out of my normal financial behavior that even writing that seems odd to me.

Without being too specific, I spent some time a few days ago listening to a radio show from a political commentator whose political views were 180 degrees from my own. I was stunned by what I perceived as the commentator’s completely insane view of reality. Imagine trying to listen to someone try to convince you that the sky is pink. I wondered whether there was some truth in what he said, and whether I could ever pull some of that truth out and live with it. I doubt I could, in the same way that I can’t imagine suddenly strolling into an Audi dealership, ready to buy. Some behaviors and thought patterns are hard to change – for better or for worse.

Attribution Some rights reserved by _J_D_R_

5 Replies to “can financial behavior change”

  1. When people scrimp and save for decades in order to live it up in retirement I often wonder if they will be able to just flip the switch and splurge on things that they avoided all their lives. The financial behaviour would certainly become habitual over time.

    I’m not really a car guy either and would be content driving my Hyundai into the ground as long as I’m comfortable and it still gets me around.

  2. Well, the way you have to look at it is that their point of view leaves it so they probably can’t fathom doing things the way you do them. To each their own, I’ve heard, and that fits well here!

  3. I splurge on eating out as well. That’s it really. but frankly that can add up quickly. My grandfathers been frugal his whole life and his a mulitmilionaire now but still buys homebrand products, because he strongly believes in the ethics of frugality not trying to save for a time where he can spend big. think that makes a big difference

  4. It’s really hard to listen to someone who’s opinion is 180 degrees from our own. In fact, I believe that’s one of the biggest problems in our country right now. People who are staunch liberals or consevatives won’t even tolerate an opposing viewpoint, even though they claim to be open-minded.

    I enjoy doing it just to figure out why someone else thinks so differently from me. Often, it seems like it has to do with their environment and experiences, which are different from mine. Their reasoning rarely changes my opinion, unless they present some factual information I’m unaware of. But, at least I can respect their opinion and evaluate their arguments objectively.

  5. I think I may have similar views as you…I almost refuse to buy anything as I don’t need it, but I’ll head to the bar with a few buddies and drop $100 on the tab, or go out to dinner without even thinking about it.

    I am trying to convince myself in 2 or 3 years I’ll buy that entry luxury car lol

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