Financial fitness through time

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Many of the questionable financial decisions we make occur because we act without first engaging in sufficient thought and reflection. We don’t give ourselves enough time to become fully aware of what we are about to do—and then we act impulsively.

Perhaps the most effective thing you can do to act with greater discipline in the area of personal finance is to increase the gap between your impulse and your action.

Consider a few ways to increase this gap:

  1. Give yourself a waiting period. For instance, design a rule for yourself that you will not make any non-essential purchases that cost more than $75 without giving yourself a three-day waiting period.
  2. Take a walk before you make an important financial decision. Walking can boost your mental clarity which, in turn, supports good judgment and decision making.
  3. Shift your attention. See if you can focus your attention on your breath or on sounds in the environment. Get immersed in the present moment. Then, after you have been successful in shifting your attention somewhere else, you can come back to your money decision with a fresh perspective.
  4. Use a checklist of important questions to evaluate your situation. For example, try:
    1. Is this purchase a need or a want?
    2. Do I truly have the money for this purchase?
    3. What will this purchase mean for my level of financial fitness?
    4. Will this purchase truly make my life better?
    5. Will this purchase still have value to me in one year/five years/ten years?

Remember, when your supply of self-control is depleted, it becomes much harder to think creatively about any important topic. Do a quick assessment of your current state of impulse control before making money decisions.

How do you increase the gap between your impulse and your action?