Wednesday 10 May 2023

“I want it now!” How The seductive Power of Now Robs Our Finances

Photo by iStrfry , Marcus on Unsplash

By Arthur Moses Opio

In my last article, Don’t talk about money and do nothing about it, I mentioned something at the tail end of the message,

“Somehow we have prayed for so long to break the backbone of poverty, but it continues to loom around us, why? We are not productive, our money is not employed.”

Dear reader, money doesn’t come out of thin air, it doesn’t come because we are good or even knowledgeable. It comes down to two major things we must produce goods and services. 

In one of his tweets, Reno Omokri said, “Go to parties in the poorest parts of almost any country, and you will see people dressed in expensive clothes, wearing jewelry, and snapping photos with iPhones, Though not always the case, people choose poverty by spending foolishly instead of investing wisely”

Someone will say, but I can’t invest, I don’t earn a lot of money, I can’t even save. This comes down to one’s money philosophy. There are three toxic money beliefs Ramit Sethi talks about, one of them is not talking about money, the second is not questioning your financial upbringing and the third is investing is only for rich people. 

So you can see that when it comes to money, a lot more has to do with behavior than it is with figures. It is written in Proverbs 21:20, "The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get."

Seductive Power of Now

Our culture has played a big deal in how we view money. From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, money is being spent and not invested. Does this classify us as wise or as fools, I think we know what better to choose. If you asked yourself how much you have spent from the beginning of the year till now, many of you wouldn’t mention and yet a lot of money has passed through your hands. Keeping up with budgets is a hard thing, tracking expenses are equally hard, but the things which are hard to do are the ones that can help us make headway in this money game. 

In his book, how to Secure a financial future, Dr. Sunday Adelaja says that one of the traps of the world system is a culture driven by consumerism. He says that “In this culture, an individual’s value is defined by material symbols. The pressure is tremendous to conform to uniform images of the good life.” He further asserts that the media has played a role in pairing an illusion of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. He then says, “In Africa, cars, clothing, and buildings are important social status symbols. The uniformity of the increasing material desires across continents points to a common driver.”

Adelaja concludes his insight on consumerism by saying, “This trap enslaves, people end up spending their lives, living for food, shelter and clothing. At best they are caught in the bondage of vanities, constantly chasing illusions. They pursue the dreams that they have been fed, to live large, own houses, material things, and have status.”

What has been written above clearly explains the subject of discussion, which is the seductive power of now that’s driven by consumerism.

We have been around people who say, live each day like it were your last. We have seen young people get caught in the web of fear of missing out (FOMO) and all these things have a significant role they play in our money management. 

Yours truly embarked on a weight loss journey. It has taken me sweat, determination, consistency, and willpower to keep going. I cut sugar out of my life, I reduced a lot of consumption of instant foods, and I feel so much better. Denying myself the sweet things has been a hard thing, but it’s the hard things that will always transform us. The lessons from my fitness journey have also had a profound effect on other aspects of my life. I have learned that a keystone habit, once developed, can trigger other areas of your life to get better. I moved from the corner of complaining about my weight and doing something about it to the corner of the action. Instead of consuming, I turned that energy into investing in my family, faith, finances, fitness, and friendships. I used the power of now for gain in things that have improved my life instead of in things that can destroy me.

In his book, the Art of Thinking Clearly, Rolf Dobelli says, “Enjoy each day to the fullest and don’t worry about tomorrow is simply not a smart way to live”. He pauses a question, Would you prefer $1,000 today cash on the table or $1,100 in a month? He says, if you think like most people, you’ll take the $1,000 straight away, but if you hold out for just a month longer, you get $100 more. He further asserts, that, “The introduction of ‘now’ causes us to make inconsistent decisions and this phenomenon is called hyperbolic discounting.” Put plainly he says, “The closer a reward is, the higher our ‘emotional interest rate’ rises and the more we are willing to give up in exchange for it.”

Delayed Gratification Experiment 

Rolf further shared an experiment on delayed gratification (Excerpt from the book the art of Thinking clearly).

In the 60s, a man called Walter Mischel conducted a famous experiment on delayed gratification. In it, a group of four-year-olds were each given a marshmallow. They could either eat straight away or wait a couple of minutes and receive a second. It was amazingly found that very few children could wait. From the experiment, Mischel found that “The capacity for delayed gratification is a reliable indicator of future career success” Rolf then said, “Patience is indeed a virtue.”

Rolf further wrote, “The older we get and the more self-control we build up, the more easily we can delay rewards. Instead of twelve months, we happily wait thirteen to take home an additional $100.” 

You will be tempted with the desire for instant rewards, a little patience, and a little waiting won’t hurt. We shouldn’t let consumerism rob us of the seed that can grow and become a tree that will provide more seed. So let’s have power, let’s have control over our desires for flashy things. If you are to look at where you are and have an inventory of your financial status, your honesty will help you, you will need to sell off some things and invest that money, you will need to downgrade or just live below and within your means. 

As I conclude said Rolf, “The more power we gain over impulses, the better we can avoid the trap of hyperbolic discounting. The less power we have over our impulses, the more susceptible we are.”

Armed with this knowledge, go out and dominate, take charge of your finances, and don’t be a victim of the seductive power of now.

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