When it comes to finances, you can probably come up with a list of excuses as to why you haven’t done certain things, like saving money. You can probably come up with another long list of bad financial decisions you have made.
Not every financial mistake is a big deal, but some have serious repercussions that could affect you for years to come. It’s important to know how you make decisions that are not in your best financial interest so you don’t have to repeat them.
Regardless of the financial decisions you’ve made, there is always some room for improvement when it comes to managing your money.
Licensed Insolvency Trustee, Francyne Myers looks at healthy financial habits and how we can be led down the wrong path.
Other topics covered are:
- Bad financial decisions affecting mental health
- Social networks influencing our spending – healthy vs unhealthy influencers
- Setting personal values to help uncover our priorities
- Peer pressure and the fear of missing out (FOMO)
- How to find good financial advice
Federally regulated, Licensed Insolvency Trustees are knowledgeable in all aspects of finances and debt management. Whether you need help with your budget or you are filing for Bankruptcy, you can be assured they will have your best interest in mind.
Read the Transcript
Wayne Kay 00:04
Human nature can lead you down the wrong financial path. That’s our topic today on the Debt Matters podcast, where we help Canadians find solutions to their debts with Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across Canada.
I’m Wayne Kay. Human nature, how does it affect your money decisions? You are going to learn about that and more when we talk with Francyne Myers from Allan Marshall & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Francyne, welcome back. Thanks for being here.
Francyne Myers 00:39
I love being here. It’s awesome.
Wayne Kay 00:41
Hey, it’s fun. We get to solve the world’s problems with this little recording.
Francyne Myers 00:45
That’s right. With 14 minutes or less. Awesome.
Wayne Kay 00:49
Exactly. But you know what? It makes people feel like they’re not alone and they can agree with us, give them some hope and some help. So when we talk about human nature leading us down the wrong financial path, are you saying, it’s all my fault?
Francyne Myers 01:05
Well, you know what’s interesting? It all depends on well, it comes down to we’re all wired.
So really, Wayne, it’s not your fault. We’re all wired a certain way, but let’s kind of raise the awareness level so that we can kind of stay out of these pitfalls.
Speaker C 01:25
Francyne Myers 01:25
Right. Let’s put it this way. So human nature and biological impulses can certainly give us clues as to why we have money problems.
Speaker C 01:36
Francyne Myers 01:36
And then that is all kind of put together with how we were taught and our upbringing. But I think at the deeper level, it certainly does play into it, because if we recognize the cause of those money problems by identifying some natural human behaviors and replacing them with healthy financial habits.
Then that will actually help create short term stability by lessening or eliminating debt, which would be great. Creating emergency savings funds and really, eventually long term savings, which we can use in our retirement. So, to me, all looking at this and curbing these impulses will have a really good effect long term on our mental health.
Wayne Kay 02:23
And sometimes it’s hard to do that in the short term. I found that it was harder when I didn’t have anything than when I did have something. So when I didn’t have anything, it was easier to say, I’m going to be in debt anyway. I might as well just buy another whatever it was. Whereas when I’m out of debt, I’m like, no, I’d rather just wait. I’ll save up.
Francyne Myers 02:48
Yes. Isn’t that funny? When you think of it, you’d almost think it’d be in a way opposite, like, well, I have no debt, so I can spend on this. But usually it is the way you say it is. Like, it’s really kind of odd when you think of it.
Wayne Kay 03:05
So what is that one human tendency that kind of affects my money?
Francyne Myers 03:10
Well, you know, more and more these days right. Is our social network. This is the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, which you’ve probably heard for many years. Now it’s a little different because there’s kind of three circles of Joneses that we have to look out for.
Number one, I’m going to give them to you. Number one, the Joneses. You know, these are the people in our own social network who influence us in our spending. This is what you think of when you think of keeping up with the Joneses. Your neighbors, your coworkers, your family members. All right? And these are the ones, you know, the concrete ones.
Now there’s a second level of Joneses. These are, stay with me here, the Joneses, known by our Joneses.
Wayne Kay 04:01
Francyne Myers 04:02
I know, I know it sounds odd. Think of it as a pebble in a pond with like, ripples around it and you’re the pebble, okay?
And then researchers have found there’s kind of like a third level of Joneses, which is the social media influencers. They call these TikTok influencers, the instagram influences.
Wayne Kay 04:28
Francyne Myers 04:28
So these aren’t people that we really know. But they also have an impact on how we spend.
So this is kind of a different type of Jones. We don’t have just the people who have influenced us directly. We have the people who are influencing the people who are influencing us directly. And then we’re also influenced by this other ripple of this outside influencer. Here’s the scary part, too, in a way.
There’s a lot of statistics out there indicating that it is the millennials who are leading the way of the demographics with serious money problems because they have this influence of these social media influencers who really don’t have any vested interest except making money. I mean, truth be told, they have a hold on the younger demographic’s pocketbooks.
Wayne Kay 05:21
Francyne Myers 05:22
So while, of course it can be a problem with any demographic, it’s particularly we’re seeing it now with the younger generation.
Wayne Kay 05:27
Francyne Myers 05:28
So our social networks, we want to be part of this social group. We have so much more influence right now and that may not always be a healthy influence.
Wayne Kay 05:39
It’s absolutely correct because there’s kind of this group, and I have an example, actually, of somebody that I know. I was asking how their daughter and the family are doing, and she said, it’s crazy. One buys a trailer, a holiday trailer, and all of the friends have to buy a holiday trailer.
One buys an ATV, all the others have to go buy an ATV. And she said they’re each trying to compete with each other and it’s going to be a major problem. So you’re exactly right that we are seeing this all the time.
Francyne Myers 06:19
And it’s funny because keeping up with the Joneses has been around for a long time. It’s been recognized as an issue for a long time, but we’re really not getting any better at it. So I think we really need to raise the awareness level of what’s happening.
Wayne Kay 06:31
So how do we combat this? What are we going to do to counter this?
Francyne Myers 06:36
Okay, for this one, I think it really is a personal solution.
I think the way to counter this tendency is to really decide what is important to you, all right? So that means making a list of your personal values. Okay, so maybe spending time with people in a campground crammed together like sardines is fun for you. Now you might figure out where I fall on that, right in the middle.
Wayne Kay 07:10
Of all those people. Okay?
Francyne Myers 07:11
Yes. And you know what? That might be something very important. So maybe one of your personal values is to say that you’re very extroverted, you need to be around people, that kind of thing. So it’s basically your behavioral beliefs and achievements, like, what value that?
I’ll give you an example because you and I go to examples and I think it helps people. Once you decide what your values are, then your spending habits should mirror those values.
One of my values is self sufficiency. I like to be self-sufficient. It’s just part of me. All right, so I bought a sewing machine. Not because anybody else bought a sewing machine, and actually, most of my friends can’t even sew. But I bought a sewing machine because it made me happy, and I feel like I can make my own thing. So it helped with my personal value.
Right now, seeing a cute pair of shoes on sale does not do anything to my personal values at all. It’s a total want. And sure, I could buy them if I wanted to, but I’m really trying to stick with does this go along with any of my personal values?
I want to be stable. I want to be financially secure as much as I can be. And these little impulse buys aren’t going to work for my personal values. Well, as an Insolvency Trustee, I also see people when we set priorities and goals, one of their goals is always to eat.
That makes sense, doesn’t it, Wayne?
Wayne Kay 08:49
Francyne Myers 08:50
But they’re spending $300 at McDonald’s every month. Okay, so there’s a disconnect there because what they’re valuing more is not fast food. It’s convenience.
So we often have these conversations. All right, well, it’s okay if you value convenience over healthy food or saving money or what have you. You just have to be aware of it. So if your personal value is more I need for it to be more convenient for me, then that’s great, spend $300 at McDonald’s, but be aware of it.
If that is not a personal value, then I think there has to be a discussion with yourself as to where your money is going. So setting personal values is very important because where you personally value is where your money is going to go.
Wayne Kay 09:42
Now, what about you’re in a bad financial situation, but you don’t want to be broadcasting this. You don’t want to tell all your friends and they’re buying all these things and you’re thinking, well, we have to keep up, and you just go further and further into debt.
And I know you’ve had people in your office have had that situation. What is your advice to them before they spend the money?
Francyne Myers 10:07
Yes, the priorities and personal values, definitely, is what you have. Here’s the other thing, Wayne.
When you see people buying this and then you feel the pressure and this is actually a good segway into another tendency we should kind of watch out for. But when you see people doing that, they are probably in the same situation that you are. And I do find that it only takes one person to say, you know what? I don’t want to spend my money on this. It’s the old fashioned peer pressure, is what it is.
And we need to recognize that when we give in to peer pressure, it’s never usually healthy for us these days. We’re also calling it a fancy little acronym called FOMO. You’ve probably heard it, right? Fear of missing out.
Wayne Kay 11:10
Francyne Myers 11:11
And again, it seems to be towards the demographic of the younger people. We’re all social creatures. We value this social acceptance. And the fear of being left out or being alone is always a strong driver of our spending choices. Even today, and I think it’s even worse today.
You pointed out with the campers, one person gets to camp, they all camp because they don’t want to miss out. Going on these weekends, getting all together and cutting loose kind of thing. But what happens is it results in choices based on really this fear of not being part of the group.
When you really think about it, it’s a bit of an irrational reaction, right? We don’t want to be left out. We want to follow the trends. We want to follow other people’s activities. It’s not when you think about it at a rational point, it’s not really a rational decision.
It’s a very strong driver, but it’s a bit of a baseless or irrational decision. So when that happens, I mean, you have to think, am I just following a trend? Am I making a similar purchase just because of that? Am I participating in an activity or social event that I don’t want to miss out on but I don’t even really want to do?
Wayne Kay 12:26
Francyne Myers 12:27
Only to realize later that I’m stuck in this financial decision that I don’t want to be in. It was very unwise and I’m stuck. So it really is to run things through this grid before you do it.
Here’s the thing. When you start running it through the grid, all right, and you stop making these, which I would suggest sometimes letting these irrational forces kick you into gear, it gets easier.
Francyne Myers 12:56
Because then you don’t have this payment at the end of the month or every two weeks. So let’s say one of your financial goals is to make sure your credit card is paid off, but then all your friends are going out for dinner and a movie this week, and if I do that, I’m not going to be able to pay off my credit card. So while I really want to go because I don’t want to miss out on this evening and then see a whole bunch of postings on social media and how great a time everybody had without me.
My financial priorities tell me this isn’t a good decision to make. The first time you make that good decision, it becomes easier. It’s the same thing with anything. Anytime you try to push back on something, it’s hard the first time. You have to just stick with it and push through it, and it gets easier.
Wayne Kay 13:45
You would think with all of the different financial experts out there that are so easy to listen to, read and catch clips of, they share them on all the social media, you think it would be easier for us now than it’s been.
Francyne Myers 14:00
Okay. So, Wayne, do you think that maybe some of those experts out there aren’t really experts?
Wayne Kay 14:08
Well, a few of them definitely are not. Yes.
Francyne Myers 14:11
And that’s the problem. A lot of these experts are, I hate to say it, are probably people profiting from our ignorance.
Wayne Kay 14:18
Francyne Myers 14:19
They’re very slick. It sounds good. We just accept the advice because we really don’t know the difference. I’ve seen a few websites where I got to tell you, if I wasn’t in my industry, I would totally, totally be bamboozled. Totally.
Wayne Kay 14:36
Francyne Myers 14:36
They’re so slick, and they look like what they’re offering is really good. And if I didn’t know better, I know I would probably be taken in like they’re really good that way.
And there’s a tendency sometimes to believe the wrong experts. Sure, if you receive financial information, if somebody has no credentials or experience or skill, but they sound good, well, that can really lead you to a financial loss.
But there’s so many people out there hanging out a shingle that it can be very difficult. You always check to see if there is any accreditation, if they have any. Listen, I got to tell you, sometimes even checking Google reviews to see what people have said about them can help you.
Wayne Kay 15:30
Francyne Myers 15:31
Yes. And it’s really surprising because some people are very honest.
I met with this person, thought they were great, and then the advice they gave me, this is what happened. So sometimes you can tell people are just disgruntled, but do a little bit of research before you meet, like in my industry, people like credit counselors or financial advisors or insurance agents, loans. I don’t care who it is. Do a little bit of research to see what their credentials are, don’t be afraid to ask somebody for their credentials. Ask them if they’re licensed, if they’re regulated.
If there’s no regulation, you can pretty much say whatever you want. I had somebody call me up the other day looking for one of our consultations, and the first thing he asked me is, where are you sitting?
And I thought, what a great question, because he wanted to see – and everything’s virtual, a lot of things. He wanted to deal with somebody local.
So I thought, what a great question for someone. I told him where I was sitting, and obviously it was the same city he is.
And he said, thank you, because I don’t want to talk to somebody, well in this case, it was from Upper Canada. They wanted to speak with somebody local.
So I thought that was a great question, and I would hope that more people would ask that question so they don’t deal with people who say they’re experts, but they’re not. And I got to tell you, by the time you figured it out, you may have spent hundreds of dollars.
Wayne Kay 16:55
Something that’s absolutely useless, and that’s tragic. We don’t want that.
Francyne Myers 17:00
Yes, well, people can be in a very bad way.
Wayne Kay 17:06
Yes, for sure.
Francyne Myers 17:09
That’s right. Seeking help and can be. I’ve met a lot of people who have been taken advantage of, and it’s just heartbreaking, right. Until they finally find you, who gives them good advice, and they’re like, oh, my gosh, I wish somebody had told me this three years ago.
Be very careful with all the financial experts out there. There’s some really good ones I hear on the radio who are very good. And I learned from them, and I thought, wow, these guys. I don’t think they have an accreditation, but they’re very savvy, and they have backgrounds in banking and things like that, and they’re very, very good.
And I would take advice from them, but be very careful. And again, it’s the younger demographic who sometimes will reach out to these influencers, and it can have tragic results.
Wayne Kay 18:00
What’s your final advice regarding our human nature and going down the wrong path?
Francyne Myers 18:07
Okay, well, here’s the old confucius saying, I guess, know yourself. Set your values. Figure out who you are, not what everybody else is around you. Set your values.
What’s important to you? Is it being out of debt? Is it eating right? Like with me, I value independence and self sufficiency. Figure out who you are, set down your financial priorities so that they are ingrained with your personal values, and get solid financial advice when you need it from somebody who knows what they’re talking about, is regulated and has a lot of experience.
Wayne Kay 18:51
And that would be someone like you, Francyne and I thank you so much for sharing such great information.
Francyne Myers 18:57
Now that you bring it up. Yes, it would.
Wayne Kay 19:02
And I’ll tell them it’s even better because it’s a free consultation. When you’re finished listening, go to this website, wecanhelp.ca and you can do a free consultation with Allan Marshall & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee, including Francyne.
Francyne, always a pleasure. Thanks for being on the show.
Francyne Myers 19:21
You’re welcome, Wayne.
Wayne Kay 19:23
And that’s it for the Debt Matters podcast. Make sure you subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcast from. And of course, for more information, you can always check out debtmatters.ca. Thanks for listening.
About Francyne Myers
In 2012, Francyne left her 23 year public service career and joined Allan Marshall & Associates where she completed her education and became a Licensed Insolvency Trustee in 2013. Alongside with her work she is actively involved in her local Trustee Association. In her spare time Francyne can be found fishing and spending time with her family.