2020 has turned into one of those Do you remember where you were when? years. Back in January, we had full employment, record stock market gains, and an optimistic future. Who could have even imagined what’s happened?
It’s amazing how something we can’t see, touch, or smell has caused such chaos. COVID-19 is an absolute game-changer. But humans have been tested before. We will persevere, and overcome this pandemic, too.
I’m an optimist. I’ve found people to be resilient and resourceful. And I’m encouraged by much of what I’m seeing. With the proper mindset, a little resetting, and some reframing you have the potential to thrive – not merely survive — in the post-COVID-19 economy.
My observations during the decades of experience I’ve had helping all types of individuals make better money choices are
- Humans are not hardwired to work well with money.
- Your biology, money beliefs, and culture conspire against you when you plan and spend.
- You are not as rational as you think with your money.
- What you think you know about money may be correct, but wrong for you.
- Managing money well is about leadership – personal and professional.
- Discovering your Money Temperament is essential.
- Your key to surviving and thriving in the new economy will be knowing your Money Temperament and managing your behavior — not your money.
Humans Are Not Hardwired to Work Well with Money
Have you ever run into a store to buy milk and bread only to spend a small fortune on things you didn’t plan to purchase, but forgot the milk and bread?
Do you now have enough toilet paper to give out as gifts for the next ten years?
Did you do anything after the market tanked? Why?
I’d bet you have a few more stories, maybe many more. It’s okay, we all make crazy spending choices sometimes.
Your brain is fantastic, but not perfect with money. Basically, you have a feeling brain and a thinking brain. Your feeling brain is quick and emotional, while your thinking brain is slow and rational.
Contrary to what you may have learned in Econ 101, all spending is emotional. According to the emerging field of behavioral economics,
95 to 99% of your spending is subconscious and automatic. Are you surprised?
Here are three reasons money can be so difficult to manage:
- Your brain biology is over 100,000 years old, and its purpose is to keep you alive and pass on your genes. Working well with money or our modern economy is not hardwired into your brain.
- Our money beliefs are well established by age 12. Look to your parents, siblings, and peer group for the key to your spending behavior. If you don’t believe me, breakout your high school or college yearbook for proof that beliefs matter.
- Your culture is a significant driver of your values and spending. Your family and where you live, work, and play are your influencers. By all indications, you live in a consumption culture and like to buy stuff, all kinds of stuff.
COVID-19 Is A Black Swan Event
You were hit between the eyes by a black swan, metaphorically speaking. The Black Swan, The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s 2007 best-seller, introduced me to the concept. A black swan [TM1] is an unpredictable event that is beyond what we normally expect of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, their severe impact, and the widespread insistence they were obvious in hindsight.
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying COVID-19 meets all the criteria of a black swan event. Other black swan events include the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident, the World Trade Center, and the sinking of the Titanic.
The big question is, what should you do now?
The Rules Have Changed
The cultural and economic norms you lived and worked by prior to COVID – 19 have changed. Get a good education, work hard, retire well. How is that working now? You must reset and reframe your money mindset to succeed and thrive in the post-COVID-19 economy.
First, today everyone is self-employed. You are the CEO of YOU. You are responsible and accountable for your money choices. Fair is a terrible word. You can do everything right and still “get it wrong.” You are now in the business of YOU.
Second, you need a one-size-fits-YOU approach, not the one-size-fits-all advice you get 24/7 from talking head gurus, the media, self-appointed experts, and traditional financial channels.
Your new formula for success is all about behavior, not money. You must discover your unique money temperament – how you feel and think about money. Then align the business of “YOU.”
Humans are emotional animals who think. Not rational animals with emotions. Knowing how you feel and think about money and how you make those choices is critical to your future. You need a sound behaviorally-based system if you hope to achieve financial security.
Financial Success Is About Managing Behavior, Not Money
I can help you better understand how you think and feel about money. Once you know how and why you make your money choices, I believe you’ll make better ones. In Part 2 of this series, I’ll explain my Money Behavior System to help you discover your Money Temperament and unleash your Money SuperPowers.
Register for our strategic partner, Turnkey Coaching Solutions’ “Leading in Crisis and Change Virtual Summit.”
Ted McLyman is the Director of Behavioral Finance, DreamSmart Academy, Founder of Apexx Behavioral Financial Group, and a Lt Col United States Marine Corps (Ret). He is also an award-winning and bestselling author. Ted’s latest book, Discover Your Money Temperament, A Common-Sense Guide to Financial Security, is the reference for this post.