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Don't Cave in to Your Spending Urges

Play Hard to Get With Your Money


This credit crisis we're in must have been on the minds of neuroscientists who recently completed a study on why it's so tough to not be lured by the spell of instant gratification. Researchers found that we don't seem to be cut out for the waiting game when it comes to cash — the possibility of receiving a slightly bigger reward tomorrow doesn't arouse the brain as much as a smaller gain today.

When offered a payout today of $20, the studies discovered that the average person's brain will justify waiting three weeks for a higher reward only if that amount grew at an annualized rate of about 4,800 percent. They attribute this rationale to our hunter-gatherer days when food wasn't always available, and the size of a future feast would have to justify choosing it over eating now.

Playing hard to get with your money is the best way to protect yourself against your urges prompted by the desire for instant gratification. Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account so you're not tempted to spend, and set up automatic deductions from your paycheck to deposit money in to your retirement savings account.

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