As if you need someone to tell you it’s smart to max out your 401(k).You probably also know not to fork over 50% of your income for rent. And of course you get that buying a pumpkin-spice latte every morning is a terrible idea—in more ways than one.
Yet there you are, doing every one of these expensive, wasteful things. What are you, stupid?
Of course not. You’re just human. And humans, as science has routinely revealed, are hardwired to do stupid things—and often.
“The main thing that plagues us as human beings is ‘now versus later,’ ” says Dan Ariely, a Duke University professor of psychology and behavioral economics and the author of Predictably Irrational. “We overeat. We don’t exercise. We have unsafe sex.” We also blow our money in absurdly irresponsible ways, routinely displaying a lack of will power when it comes to passing up today’s urgent and very real desire in return for some hard-to-picture future payoff.
But I’m here to say: Don’t give up, brother. Just follow these simple rules, and you’ll no longer be your own worst enemy—at least where money’s concerned.
Jack Otter is the author of Worth It…Not Worth It? Simple & Profitable Answers to Life’s Tough Financial Questions.