Don't Be A Creep
As we earn more income, we spend more money. Is that inevitable? Maybe not...
The guys take a practical look at how we can all avoid lifestyle creep. Along with Bage’s Biases and #tightasstommo money saving tips, come and have a listen to find out how you can find financial wellbeing.
Welcomes and Introductions
- Not celebrating a birthday, the experience of quarantine with a four month old baby and . . .
- David’s book, click on the image below for more information;
What is todays podcast all about – Looking at the issue of Lifestyle Creep, why we never seem to have enough money left at the end of the month, and what we can do about it.
Every episode, Behavioral Finance expert, Neil Bage is going to be giving us his money behavioral tip. Exploring and thinking a little bit about the behavioral traits we have towards money can inform us, so we can make better money decisions going forward.
This episode – Illusion of Control
The ability to recognise that there are some things that you could control. But many things that you cant. David Lloyd
*caveat, cash under the mattress just to hold is not financial advice! However, Ovation Finance are pension specialists, so do get in touch for brilliant advice on how your pension can bring you wellbeing. Click here for more information or call on 0117 942 4333
- Featuring the benefits of lockdowns and getting old!
- Click here for more information on completesavings.co.uk
- Unfortunately Debenhams is no longer accepting vouchers in store or online. Do double check before heading out, but most stores will be open until the 15th May 2021 if you want to try and grab a bargin.
Quick pause for Tommo to check on Lindsay and Bella!
Todays topic – Lifestyle Creep, as we earn more money, we spend more money and never seem to have any money left at the end of the month.
The technical name for this is Hedonic Adaption
As we make more money, so our expectations and desires rise.
Cash flow forecast, where we take a client’s expenditure, and current assets, pensions, etc. and their income. And we start to project it forwards over their lives. One very important piece of information, the level of income the client believes they will need for a happy retirement. And we talk the client through this process using many of the principles we talked about in these podcasts, help the client understand, what actually makes them happy.
Why such a big difference in perceived income needs?
As we earn more income, we spend more money. Is that inevitable? Is there anything wrong with that if is?
- Are we spending more money on things that genuinely increase our wellbeing?
- Are we setting money aside for things that might make us happy in the future?
You are paying into a pension towards your resignation, not your retirement.
So what can people do to stop this Lifestyle Creep?
Routine and automation.
Giving stuff up can help you begin to reframe the way you look at things.
- The proceeds of the Financial Wellbeing Book, go to Penny Brohn UK Cancer Centre.
- A complimentary approach to cancer care, and later life care.
- Catherine Zolleman – have another listen to episode 40
- People with a life ending diagnosis, often come to report an increase in their wellbeing. They’ve gotten rid of the distractions in their lives, that aren’t adding to their wellbeing. And instead, they just focus on the things that make them truly happy.
The Financial Wellbeing Junkie – have another listen to episode 64 always seeking short term fixes of wellbeing, to keep up to that set level.
A sense of belonging in our local community is a huge factor in overall wellbeing.
Conclusions from the guys –
Lifestyle Creep means that as we add more we spend more doesn’t always add to our wellbeing. And to combat that lifestyle creep, we should
- automate savings
- create routines around the things that bring us wellbeing
- positive reminders of what gives us wellbeing around us
- try to avoid distractions and comparisons
This is what a good financial planner can do and Ovation Finance can help you. Ovation get to know you and find out your motives – so your money can help you spend time to maximise your wellbeing. Click here for more information.
Do you have any financial wellbeing questions you would like us to answer? Or do you have a #tightasstommo money saving tip you would like to share with our listeners?
If so, let us know by going to Twitter @Finwellbeing or email – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to purchase a copy of The Financial Wellbeing Book please click on this link to visit Penny Brohn UK shop
Transcribe of the Podcast Script:
David Hello, everybody and welcome to yet another edition of our financial wellbeing podcast. We’ve just had a heated debate off air as to exactly which number in the series this is, we all know that it’s somewhere in the 70s. And that’s as much as I’m able to tell you. Joining me today, my two very good pals and partners in financial honesty, rather than crime, Chris Budd and Tom Morris. Say hello Chris.
Chris Hello Chris
David Hello Tom
Producer Tommo Hello Tom
David Good, and it’s like the two Ronnies and my, and my name is David Lloyd. For those of you that have listened before, we like to get together every so often. And we talk through issues concerning financial wellbeing. And today I’m a little bit concerned about the episode – it’s called “Don’t Be A Creep” I’m bit concerned that Chris has come up with this because he’s harbouring some long standing grudge against the two of us. And it’s all going to come tumbling out. Can you tell us more Chris?
Chris Well, that is actually true. But that’s not what the episode is about. We’re going to look at the issue of lifestyle creep, why we never seem to have enough money left at the end of the month, and what we can do about it, because we do always like to try and be practical along with our theory .
David Absolutely, that is very true. No matter how much money you got somehow, it never seems to be enough. Now, before we got the first of our features what’s happening in our lives, guys? Chris I was rather confused today. I was chatting to you before we came on air, I wished you a very Happy birthday, because Facebook told me it was your birthday. But I understand Facebook’s got it wrong?
Chris Well, yes, I think it’s amazing that people put their dates of birth on social media, because it’s a the birth is the moment you phone up your bank one of the first things they say is can we check if it’s you, give us your date of birth. So I put a fake date of birth on social media actually use a different one for each social media. But the great thing is every once in a while in the middle of February, I get loads of lovely messages saying Happy Birthday. But it actually isn’t. That’s why it works quite well.
David But then of course you have to go to great lengths to explain what you’ve done. It’s very sensible, by the way. So as I said to you earlier, I do wonder, maybe you should choose the 29th of February as your birthday, then you only have to do the explanation once every four years. . .
Chris Or maybe Christmas day when nobody’s watching or something?
David Tommo, happening with you? I can hear the sound of crying children in the background there.
Producer Tommo Yeah, that’s my life working from home still. And that is my soundtrack. Bella is, what is she . . . four and a bit months old now? So yeah, crying is the thing. It’s all good.
Producer Tommo so good.
Chris I think we need to just ask Tommo what the experience is like having two weeks, unable to leave the house with a four year old and a four month old baby.
Producer Tommo Yes, I did have, my phone pinged, due to do some contact tracing. Thankfully, we didn’t have Coronavirus. But we did have to stay in for, was it 10 days. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. It tested, tested the patience. So yeah, anyone who’s gone through it will know exactly what I’m talking about. Not being able to let off, I say a four year old boy, he’s like a Labrador, you need to go out for a walk. So yeah, it was interesting. We got through it. We’re alright. We’re still here.
David It occurs to me that it now must be getting on for, it’s now early February when we record this. And I think it was what end of March last year when we when we went to virtual on our podcasts. So it’s been a long time actually, since we’ve even seen each other. But some people might say is good, but I don’t!
Chris David, we should we always get the lovely question how are you, but we never ask it back, how are you?
David Good, thank you. Looking forward to New Year, just come off the back of dry January, which was an interesting experience and largely enjoyable.
Chris Hows the sales of your book most importantly?
David It’s selling all right, as you know, Chris, you know self publishing, you’re not going to necessarily make a huge amount of money from it. But the sales have been pretty steady. And I’ve noticed that every so often, if you don’t do any publicity, you don’t sell any books. But if a little post on social media, something on Facebook, or Instagram or Twitter, I was in a little article in the local parish magazine recently, and that always leads to a few sales. So sticking on it, the most thing about my book is that I’m going to go into a studio in Chippenham and record the audio book version of it, which is very exciting. So I should have an audiobook version coming up hopefully in two weeks time. I’ve also been working on a TV adaptation of it. Now this is not anything anyone has commissioned. That’s what I do. You know, that’s why of course still. But I just finished now episode three of three, I’m turning it into a three parts TV series, which I have to say I’ve really enjoyed writing because all of the thinking about plot and character I’ve done years ago. So it’s really just a question of how I could take the story of character writing very well, and make it work in a visual way so enjoyable, and I should put it out there and we’ll see if anybody picks it up. But that has occupied my time for dry January because surprise surprise, I had nothing else to do and I had some spare energy. Before we move on to the subject of today’s podcast, Don’t Be A Creep. We’re gonna come to the first of our regular features, that is Bages Behavioural Biases. Where good friend of the podcast, behavioural finance expert, Neil Bage, gives us a one minute introduction to a different behavioural bias that affects how we make decisions about money. Now what is Neil telling us about this week?
Chris I think we’ll let Neil answer that because he tells us the beginning of this clip, let’s have a listen to it . . .
Chris There you go. I think it’s very interesting. I um, I used to work with a guy, used to work in central London – Oxford Circus. And this chap lived in Surrey. And he drove to work every day. Into Oxford Circus every day. When I asked him one day, he paid huge amounts of money for parking and, and I said, Why do you do this? You know, you just train’s, fantastic trains from where you live. And he said, I can’t I can’t bear to be on public transport. I want to be in my car, so I can be in control. And I would say what, so you’ll sit on Pall Mall for 45 minutes at five o’clock in rush hour? There’s no control there. But he wanted to feel that he was in control of his journey. And he had no control over it all.
David Yeah, it’s that it’s that ability to recognise that there are some things that you could control. But many things that you cant. And there are so many factors around money that you can make the wise decision, I guess. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to get the outcome that you hope for every time.
Producer Tommo This is interesting. We’ve seen it in, in financial advice in the last, well, number of years with final salary pension transfers. This idea I want to control my pension. And I think Neil just summarised it, you can’t control your pension. What’s the point. You know, ultimately, it’s invested and lots of other factors are involved that impact it, yeah this idea of control. Yeah. Powerful one.
Chris Another example Tom, there’s one chap, finanal pensions freedoms aswell when people were taking all their money out of their pension, paying tax on it, putting it back into their estate, and then a tax environment, which is absolutely crazy thing to do. And I remember one one friend of mine who did it and why did why are you doing this? And he said, I just want to get my hands on the money. I don’t want to be in a pension, I want to get my hands on the money. What are you going to do with it when you get your hands on it? I’m going to buy a flat and rent it out. Well you haven’t got your hands on the money then have you!
David I think everybody should have a small amount of money in that pension pot,they can take out as cash and just like put it under their mattress and take it out every day just rub their hands on it and savour the feel and the crinkle of the money, but it shouldn’t be enough that it’s going to fundamentally affect their monies investment.
Producer Tommo I must cavieat, that came from David, that is not financial advice from Tom Morris, the actual advisor here okay.
David No, I know. It panders to that need of all of us to get their hands on the money. Let’s move on to the next of our features, our first is our #TightAssTommo feature where our Prince of Parsimmony, Tom Morris comes up with once again, another really, really good money saving tip. Before we move on to Tommo, I have a couple this week actually. Both of which I’ve realised have been as a result of recent events. Firstly, if you want to save money, I can strongly recommend being in lockdown during a pandemic. Because I was recently looking at my cash flow, but the amount of money But to my surprise, I have a little bit more money than you know than I thought I had. So I sat down and realised all the things I haven’t spend money on over the last year and those are holidays, going to restaurants, going to pubs, going to the theatre, to the cinema. And I’ve saved an absolute fortune. It’s been a bit miserable. But that’s one way of saving money. And then the other one. The other tip I’ve got is is be old! Because the other day, I’m, I’m 66 this year. In May I’m going to be 66.
David I know unbelievable isn’t it. And the other day a letter from the government inviting me to apply for my state pension. So as of May of this year, nine grand a year, thank you very much. Obviously I’m putting into it, I paid into it, I’m only getting money back I paid in over the years. But that’s a nice feeling. So, so my two recommendations are live in a pandemic and be old.
Chris Very good. The thing about saving money is that, there’s some statistics about how much debt has been repaid over the last 11 months, because people haven’t been spending money so they’ve been putting it away and putting off credit cards or what have you so some good has come out of this pandemic.
David Good. Okay, Tommo, give us your big one.
Producer Tommo This one straight to it. Website called competesavings.co.uk. is one of these cashback sites, some terrific cashback when we’re here to encourage people to spend money willy nilly, but we do need to spend money from time to time and why not get some savings along the way. So complete savings.co.uk, sign up whenever you’re thinking about buying something, click on it. There’s some great cashback. eBay 10% cashback, Hermes 10% cashback, Debenhams 10% cashback. I’m not sure that’s going to be much use any longer is it?
David That reminds me I have a Debenhams voucher. I need to spend that quickly!
Producer Tommo Yeah, quite. There you go there’s a tip go spend your Debenhams voucer quickly folkes. I think you can even get a widget on your on your Google Chrome that makes sure that if you’re on site that you can get some cash back that you are directed towards it. So there you go elsewhere to CompleteSavings.co.uk.
David Fantastic crying child sound effects.
Producer Tommo We’re not even gonna bother editing that out, guys. This is working from home life, right?
David It’s the reality of life, excellent. Okay, Chris, why don’t you introduce our subject for today? I will, but I would just saying about the crying child. One of the things I really liked about lockdown is the standards of what it is to be professional, have significantly reduced under the lockdown.
Producer Tommo Tell you what though, as much as we could just carry on. That is quite a lot of crying. And I think it’s only appropriate that I go to lend a hand quickly to see if there is anything that needs to be sorted. So . . .
Chris A quick pause
David It’s gone quiet now.
Chris So today, we’re going to talk about lifestyle, which is a term that describes how as we earn more money, we spend more money with the result, we never seem to actually have any money left at the end of the month. Now there is a technical name for this Hedonic Adaption, regular listeners to the podcast, hopefully remember Set Point Theory, which says that we oscillate around a set level of wellbeing, which is unique to each of us. 60% comes from DNA. And we do have a tendency to return back to that stable level of wellbeing despite what life throws at us. But and this is where the theory of like the Lifestyle Creep, it also means that as we make more money, so our expectations and desires rise.
Producer Tommo A great illustration of this this year, one of the things we do for our clients is their cash flow forecast, which you’re familiar with David. This is where we take a client’s expenditure, and current assets, pensions, etc. and their income. And we start to project it forwards over their lives. We make a few assumptions such as job changes, retirement dates, and so forth, one off costs, such as weddings and gifts to the children to help them get on the property ladder. And we see what the client needs to save in order for them not to run out of money in retirement. You also need one other very important piece of information, the level of income the client believes they will need for a happy retirement.
David Well, interesting you say that having just done very recently, this process once again with you Tommo, I can confirm that that does involve sometimes, a bit of guesswork from the client.
Producer Tommo It does. And we talk the client through this process using many of the principles we talked about in these podcasts, help the client understand, you know, what actually makes them happy. And it just so happened to speak to two clients near to each other recently. They were in similar positions and starting to think about retirement. And we discussed their income needs and one client told me they reconed they needed around about 50k a year in retirement. The other client said they needed an income in retirement of 100k a year. It’s got me thinking, what was so different about the wellbeing needs of these two clients, with such a huge difference in their perceived income needs?
Chris And what was their income before Tommo?
Producer Tommo Good question, Chris. Well, that’s certainly had something to do with it. Because the client who said they needed a higher amount was earning a lot more than the other client.
David Surprise, surprise. Now, Neil Bage talked about this didn’t he with his biases. Anchoring was a called?
Producer Tommo He did indeed, David your memory amazes me! This is where, whereby how we estimate somethings value, it’s influenced by a previous thing. So if, you tell me you bought your watch for £500, I’m going to offer you a higher price to buy off you. And if you told me you bought for £50, I’m probably going to offer you something less.
Chris So Anchoring is definitely part of the story. But can you also imagine that the client who was earning a lot more, is also therefore going to be spending a lot more. So when they consider what they need to be happy in retirement, they base it on what they’re currently spending, whether or not that is making them happy?
David Well, that’s inevitable. Surely. As we earn more income, we spend more money. Is that inevitable? Is there anything wrong with that if is?
Chris Not necessarily it depends, doesn’t it? Are we spending more money on things that genuinely increase our wellbeing. When we come to not have those things anymore, are we unable to let them go even though they aren’t bringing us joy. And this, to me is the biggie, by spending more, are we failing to save. To set money aside for things that might make us happy in the future? That’s where Lifestyle Creep can be a real problem. So if someone gets a pay rise from a job, they don’t enjoy, and they spend that money, they aren’t ready for the day that they don’t have to do that job anymore. There’s a great line on this that I’d like to quote from a South African financial advisor. Tommo and I are involved with the organisation, Next Gen Planners, and they did a global commute last summer. And, excuse me for getting this, attempt her first name, Kalonzo Masanga. I think it’s how you pronounce it. I have been asking. And she’s had this great, great line. She said, you are paying into a pension towards your resignation, not your retirement. Lovely way of looking at it.
David Yeah, I like that. Okay, so what can people do to stop this Lifestyle Creep?
Chris Okay, we’ve got a few suggestions. So firstly, you can construct permanent reminders of what makes you happy. In order to avoid being distracted and spending that extra money on things you don’t really need. And that don’t add to your wellbeing. We get positive emotions from positive life changes, but those positive emotions decline over time, as we revert back to our set points of wellbeing. So we can therefore remind ourselves of that change, what life would be like without it. Now, just to be a bit extreme, it’s silly here just to illustrate the point, a previous guest of the podcast one of our absolute best guests, although we do say that about everybody, every time we mention them. Oliver Berkman wrote a brilliant book called the antidote, which I recommend to anybody. It’s such an interesting book, it’s all about the antidote to positive thinking, really, really good. And he cites the Greek philosopher, Epictetus. And he suggested that every time you kiss your child, good night, imagine them dying the next day, in this way you will appreciate and get the wellbeing from the ones that you love by imagining them not there. And then appreciating them when they are, okay. rather extreme and not for everybody. But I hope it gets the point across.
David Well it takes to gloss off bedtime doesn’t it! Maybe something like, you know, a nice painting on the wall might be a better way of doing it. But obviously I do, I do appreciate the point. Learning to value the people who are important to you.
Producer Tommo Can I suggest a lesson free a way of maybe achieving this, maybe create, what you call an active plan for reminding ourselves by using some routine and automation. I recall being given some advice when we first had children, that my wife and I should set one night aside. Book a babysitter, you know, every couple of weeks, every month, whatever it might be, it might be that we only go for a walk, having that routine will ensure that we continue to appreciate our relationship. Now, lockdown is actually made that quite tricky. So there’s, there’s no doubt that when this is over, we really need to be making time for just the two of us. And there’s so many financial advisors, we use this very in their financial plans. At Ovation, we produce a financial well being report, which shows what the client has achieved and what makes them happy. We go over this at every meeting that we have for them, at least once a year, and we’ll go through it. And we’re talking about these things that make them happy, their objectives, what motivates them, so that they are reminded of the things that they should actually be thinking about in their lives. But just on the point of automation, and spending. This is where things like direct debit saving, could be your real helper here. Because if you just do it and it’s set aside, all of a sudden, you’ll realise Oh, Crikey, I haven’t got that money in my bank account anyway. So think about when you do get that pay rise, think about what makes you happy saving towards that future. And actually setting up automation, automatic direct debit savings is a great way as well.
Chris David can I just ask you a question – there’s another way of doing this, it is positive effects wellbeing. You mentioned, you’ve just done a dry January. I know that did dry January because you were moaning about it on Twitter. I think I saw one very funny tweet where you said I feel better I’ve been sleeping so well and I’m bored. So how good besides glass of wine when you finally allowed to have it?
David Well it was undeniably extremely enjoyable I have to say but talking about letting things go. It also made me realise that my, put this carefully, my dependence of regular glasses of wine is actually something that I could do without and you know, having a bit of a bit of a regular tipple not every night but you know, a regular tipple for most of my adult life, a glass or two a night, puts a nice day and gets you into the evening. To go a whole month not drinking at all isn’t something quite frankly, I’ve done dry January before but not something I often do. But what it did do was make me realise that I could do it, that I could manage without something that I thought was a very important part of my socialising and my circle of life, and actually much as I really did enjoy it and will continue to enjoy the class of wine that I drink. I also enjoy the nights when I don’t kick off the next day, because my head is clearer and more energy. So by giving stuff up, I think, particularly when you can begin to reframe the way you look at things. And I guess that’s exactly what we’re talking about here. You know, this Lifestyle Creep takes over. You think, well, I have to spend that amount of money every month, on wine. But when you can spend that you can then begin to appreciate the benefits of saving that money as opposed to just focusing on Oh my god, I can’t have a drink.
Chris Very true, very true. I didn’t publicise it, but I actually also had a period of absence and I had a dry January the fourth.
David Well done, Chris.
Chris So I know we’ve mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating the the proceeds of the Financial Wellbeing Book, go to Penny Brohn UK Cancer Centre, where my wife works as an oncology nurse and she spends time there as well. To remind people, what Penny Brohn do is they have a complimentary approach to cancer care, and later life care. And it’s not instead of the chemo, but it’s supporting the chemo. And it’s things like mindfulness, wellbeing, nutrition, exercise, and the science behind them, it is fantastic place. And one of the things that Catherine Zolleman when she was on our podcast said and my wife repeats this I just find amazing is that people with a life ending diagnosis, often come to report an increase in their wellbeing. And we’ve talked about this and thought about this. And we think it’s basically because they’ve gotten rid of the distractions in their lives, that aren’t adding to their wellbeing. And instead, they just focus on the things that make them truly happy. Now, of course, this is not the way that we’d ideally like to have our attention focused, but maybe we can learn and get clarity on what brings us joy, our intrinsic motivations, and see anything else as distractions.
Producer Tommo As, as you said at the beginning, Chris, what are the effects of this Hedonic Adaptation is the endlessly increasing aspiration. And we spoke in an earlier podcast about the idea of the financial wellbeing junkie, always seeking short term fixes of wellbeing, to keep up to that set level. The positive stimuli being short lived means that we keep increasing our aspirations to seek positive stimuli. I always think it’s like chasing the dragon. But if you are familiar with the concept of, of of not sure you would be but I’m not somebody who’ss going down as like just Google it,, you’ll see what I mean. A bit like lifestyle creep, where our lifestyle changes to reflect the increase in levels of our income, is we never quite feel that we have enough was enough left over at the end of a month, no matter how much we earn, is constantly creep towards trying to get that stimulus of, of, of wellbeing. If we could therefore find a way to continually remind ourselves of the things that has given us wellbeing, for things that are given us well being we can avoid these pitfalls of head hedonic, struggle with that, hedonic adaptation of chasing things that don’t add to our wellbeing. So it’s really crucial that we really do focus on on understanding what that is.
David Yeah, and I would imagine that comparison is another factor of Lifestyle Creep. As you learn more, perhaps you moved to a bigger house, how you socialise with people, perhaps now all of a sudden, you get to socialise with people who take skiing holidays, they invite you to join them. So you’ve got to keep up.
Chris Yeah, that kind of sense of belonging in our local community is a huge factor in overall wellbeing. For the folks that we always refer to Wellbeing by Rath and Harter, based on Gallup polls, has community as one of the five pillars of wellbeing. So, maybe sometimes you need to do the same expensive things in your local community in order to feel that you belong, that’s understandable, but maybe you could belong in other ways, rather than trying to keep up with material possessions.
David Well, yeah, I mean, absolutely. I mean, I’ve offered in the past as do you Chris, you know, I do a lot of work in community. I’ve been kind of the government at the local school, like a long standing involvement with the local club. Now, parish Council, you know, none of those things make any money, but I do because I’m really involved in my community and it brings a sense of wellbeing.
Chris And from now on Tommo, you will be referred to as Jackie Weaver
Producer Tommo Jackie Weaver. That’s a real timestamp, isn’t it? If you don’t know that this being recorded – what is the council’s name?
David Heartford perhaps I can’t remember?
Producer Tommo Absolutely superb.
David I have only seen a brief clip, I better watch the whole thing later on.
Producer Tommo I should pop up a link in the show notes. This is absolutely fabulous
David Definitely should, right. So one of my roles in the podcast is to sum up also to stop us getting too far off the point. Let’s try and recap what we’ve discussed. So this is how I see. Lifestyle Creep means that as we add more we spend more doesn’t always add to our wellbeing. And to combat that lifestyle creep, we should automate savings, create routines around the things that bring us wellbeing positive reminders of what gives us wellbeing around us. Try to avoid distractions and comparisons. Does that sum it up?
Producer Tommo I would say perfect.
David Excellent. Right then. That’s a good way to end the podcast. So on that basis. Thanks very much for joining us today. I hope you found it useful. Please join us next time we come together for another one of our financial wellbeing podcasts.
Do you have any financial wellbeing questions you would like us to answer? Or do you have a #tightasstommo money saving tip you would like to share with our listeners?
If you would like to purchase a copy of The Financial Wellbeing Book please click on this link to visit Penny Brohn UK shop