Seniors Change Thinking About Money

May 14th, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances

Senior citizen finances are a bug-a-boo for many of us.  We recently wrote about learning to manage finances on your computer, or even online.  Today we want to take a look at how we think about finances.  You may not realize it, but nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.  The Edge website offers seniors opportunity to reflect upon some of the best thinking of our time.  Thoughts written here today are prompted by The Edge and the highly provocative thinking found there. 

We tend to think more about money and our income than most of us would like, and money is not as important as we think it is, while we are thinking about it.  Our thinking processes create a sense of exaggerated importance while we are mulling over the thoughts.  The focus on them makes them feel much more important than they actually are.  As a result, anxiety and stress over finances may develop from the exaggerations, and we may worry unnecessarily about money.  As Kahneman says, “The mismatch in the allocation of attention between thinking about a life condition and actually living it is the cause of the focusing illusion.”

So what do we do about managing our thinking more effectively?  How can we keep our cognitive toolbox as based in reality as possible.

First, we need to recognize that, if we are spending a lot of time thinking about money, we need to realize that we’re probably making it more important than it is in reality.  Doesn’t mean it is not important at all; it just means we’re exaggerating its importance.

Second, and this has always been a biggie with this writer, we need to improve our self-talk. That is, we need to tell ourselves (command, if you will) to stop ruminating on money and change the topic in our brain.  This takes practice and a lot of self-control.  It means interrupting the conversation you are having with yourself, and admitting you are exaggerating its importance in your life.

Third, we may need to write notes to ourselves and post them around the house.  This may be especially important if we find it difficult to let go of the thoughts we are worrying about.  Giving yourself encouragement to stop thinking about money, or whatever it is that is bothering you, is positive reinforcement for behavior change.  And that’s the best kind of help you can ask for.



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