2.2: Misunderstandings and Lethargy

Our most pressing money problems are caused by ignorance and indolence, not idiocy

Misunderstandings and lethargy perhaps lead to more complications in the affairs of the world than trickery and wickedness. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther

What this chapter is about

Our relationship with money – how we connect money to who we are and what we value – is prone to systematic mistakes

Prioritising the right money models – To think the right way about money with effortless effort relies on models that allow us to both frame and focus on what matters in complicated decisions. Focusing on what matters by default doesn’t happen by accident. Models allow us to execute a complicated redrawing of how money is mapped in our brains in an effective, efficient way. Expenditure is more important than income. Enough is more important than more. Value is more important than price.

Unknow thyself first – The first step to adopting a new map is recognising the shortcomings of the old one. Empty your cup, so it may be filled. Empty your map of warnings of dragons. Fill it by learning how to examine the expression of your expenditure, and the value of things to you, not the output of the world’s demand and supply equation. All purchases are investments, so be sure you’re making good trades.

What this chapter isn’t about

Being a miser – This is not about telling you to spend less, or even what to spend your money on at all. It’s about not confusing standard of living with access to comfort. If reducing expenditure feels like a sacrifice, rather than a freedom, you’re doing it wrong. Don't forgo fun. Be clear on what fun really looks like when you’re unattached to addictions. Delaying gratification is a flawed premise. Don’t resist impulses. Cultivate better impulses… by understanding that you had the best impulses all along, until the weeds overwhelmed them.

Buying the answer – Anything in financial advice that ends with a solution for sale (be it a special financial product, or a diet pill) started with a badly formulated problem. Don't pay to avoid problems that either don’t, or needn’t, exist.

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