4 Money Moves To Outsmart Your Brain


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Investing Guide at Deep Blue Group Publications LLC Tokyo -- Finally, the explanation for why Americans aren’t saving enough: It’s not sexy. Now, spending: that’s sexy.

That’s one of the findings in Thinking Money: The Psychology Behind Our Best and Worst Financial Decisions, airing on public television stations beginning Thursday, Oct. 16; check local listings. It’s produced in association with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA is the largest independent securities regulator in the U.S.).

In truth, the show is really about behavioral economics, but that’s not very sexy either.

So the program serves up key principles by interviewing experts from the likes of Princeton, Stanford and Yale — as well as what we call in the journalism trade “real people” — to explain why our brains keep us from doing the right thing with our money and how to outsmart them. For instance, you’ll learn how to combat “the IKEA effect,” which makes you put more value on products you helped create than ones you don’t.

If this all still sounds a little wonky, it’s worth noting that the program has some pretty funny and weird experiments.

For instance, someone gets wine coursed through a vein while in an fMRI (a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine that measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow) to see how the brain reacts when it thinks the person is drinking a $90 bottle of pinot noir versus a $10 bottle. In another, the jokey host — comedian/actor Dave Coyne — wears Virtual Reality goggles to see what he’d look like “old.”

As Thinking Money’s producer and writer John Greco told me, the show offers ways “to fight your instinct to spend money now.”

Four lessons from the show:

1. Don’t let an overwhelming number of choices paralyze you from making smart investing decisions.

2. A good “nudge” can help you achieve your financial goals — especially if the nudge has unpleasant consequences attached.

3. Beware of confirmation bias.

4. Don’t hand over money to a crook because you fear you’ll miss out on a spectacular investment opportunity if you don’t.


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All common sense except #3.

I would also add a huge amount of other human biases, such as the availability heuristic, which basically (in terms of trading) says that people are more likely to trade things they are familiar with. This, in turn, makes them miss out on better investment opportunities.
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