2011 Top Ten (Part 5)

Make it fun. That’s resolution number five.

Let’s face it. For most people, money matters are boring. They involve budget issues and trade-offs between savings and spending that frustrate the tar out of most mortals. So in order to encourage yourself to deal with all the unpleasantness, set up some kind of incentive.

For example, estate planners say that your will should be updated every three years or so. So think about what would be a special treat—like eating at a favorite restaurant, or going to a special show—and reward yourself when you revise your will. Similarly, you should look at how you are doing against you’re a budget approximately quarterly, find a special activity that you can look forward to, and reward yourself after you do a budget review.

It may seem picayune, but it often works. We gravitate to activities that are fun for us, and we avoid the things that aren’t fun. Couples that fight over money issues tend to avoid dealing with those issues, which usually makes any problems worse. If they could find a way—however artificial—to make money matters less daunting or more enjoyable, they would probably address their money issues more faithfully.

Not everyone finds balance sheets and cash-flow statements boring or intimidating, althogh most folks do. But everyone responds to incentives. By finding inducements that encourage responsible actions, personal finances can change from being a chore to being something to cheer.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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