You know that feeling when you arrive home, but you don’t actually remember the whole drive there? Getting home is so automatic for you, your brain went numb to the details. The same thing often happens in our financial lives. Buying groceries, paying bills, keeping our heads above water, all become so rote we forget to wake up and pay attention to what is happening in our financial lives.
Waking up and paying attention is the goal, but unfortunately, this financial numbness can go on for many years. This numbness leads to general indifference to what the current state of your financial affairs is, no motivation to plan for the future, and indiscriminate spending. Are you recognizing any of the symptoms in yourself? Financially well people aren’t constantly on high alert, but they are aware, which is what a numb person is missing.
Financial numbness usually goes hand-in-hand with stuck-in-a-rutness. Your habits become a part of your identity and your lifestyle and you can no longer see them for what they are. You do things because you do them that way, no reason necessary. One of the most offensive habits your numbness blinds you to? How many times you swipe your card in a week.
Swipe for a cup of coffee. Swipe for lunch out. Swipe for groceries. Swipe for drinks with friends. Swipe for a late-night pharmacy run. In just one day, you could swipe your card five times, easily racking up 20-35 swipes a week. This isn’t even about the dollar amount spent, it’s about the regularity of the purchases. Count up your debit and credit card purchases for this past week. If it was over 20, you’ve got a problem. 20+ transactions in week means you are spending money three times a day. There is no reason to spend money three times a day for an entire week.
If you are in this high of a category, try to work your way down to the 10-14 transaction per week range. This is a reasonable amount of transactions to spend in a week.
One of the best ways to combat financial numbness is to challenge yourself to do more. To be better. Don’t settle for mediocre. Push yourself. You absolutely can get down to 5-9 transactions per week. I’ve done it, and so have a lot of other people.
Avoid waking up to your financial life in a few years to find you’ve spent yourself into excessive debt. Wake up, do the hard work, and then reap the rewards.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.