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Your brain sees fu­ture you as a stranger.

Scientists with brain scan­ners have shown with­out a shred of doubt that hu­mans are in­tensely fo­cused on the here and now.

When we think of our present self, our brains light up with warmth and recog­ni­tion.

But when we think of our fu­ture selves in 20 or 30 years, the light of recog­ni­tion dims so much it’s like think­ing of a stranger.

No won­der we’re such poor savers. Who would bother sav­ing for a stranger?

Nigel Latta’s Mind over Money TV show has taught us a lot about why peo­ple be­have ir­ra­tionally with money, but this was the big one for me.

It not only ex­plains our fail­ure to save, it ex­plains why we’re so will­ing to bor­row to spend on stuff.

It’s not us who has to pay back the money. It’s that pack of strangers- our fu­ture selves!

But there are peo­ple who be­have as though they do not Un­der­stand what drives you Aim to elim­i­nate money wor­ries Build your knowl­edge

suf­fer from what is known as the ‘‘two self’’ sav­ing prob­lem, as the me now/fu­ture me dilemma is known.

I’ve met many in my pro­fes­sional life.

I count five things many of them have in com­mon:

1. Many are wor­ri­ers, of­ten as a re­sult of some ex­ter­nal fac­tor that made them value fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity. This could be the early death of a fa­ther (my case), or a poor up­bring­ing (not me). It could be work­ing in an in­dus­try they love, but which has seen a lot of re­dun­dan­cies (Me again).

2. Many are the in­her­i­tors of a tra­di­tion, com­ing from fam­i­lies which weren’t big spenders. Learned habits are of­ten our de­fault set­tings.

3. Many are fi­nan­cially aware, and will­ing to learn. They knew what cap­i­tal growth and com­pound in­ter­est are, and want them work­ing for them.

4. Many are in­di­vid­u­al­ists. They hate the thought of be­ing av­er­age, and want enough money to feel free, or at least freer.

5. Many are goal-ori­ented, and those goals are of­ten rel­a­tively short-term goals.

Money writ­ers like me gen­er­ally chas­tise read­ers for not hav­ing long-term re­tire­ment sav­ings plans. But, re­ally, for many years I didn’t have any­thing like that.

I’ve al­ways been in work­place su­per/Ki­wiSaver since I started work, but that was just to get the match­ing em­ployer con­tri­bu­tions. It wasn’t part of a grand plan.

My real money goals for around 15 of the last 20 years were framed as a series short-term sprints to pay off mort­gage debt.

How much could we pay off by the end of the year?

For me sav­ing and get­ting clear of debt was my way of free­ing my present self from worry.

It was all about present me feel­ing bet­ter about life, and that in­cluded near-fu­ture me, who didn’t seem a stranger at all. In time, the sprints started adding up to a plan.

Many of us are wor­ri­ers. I wrote just last week that six in 10 adults were wor­ried about their lev­els of debt.

Per­haps some of us are bet­ter for­get­ting about our fu­ture stranger-selves, and in­stead fo­cus for now on us­ing money to re­duce the worry in our daily lives.


Mir­ror, mir­ror, on the wall, I don’t re­late to fu­ture me at all.

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