Treat Your Future Self Like a Real Person

There are a few differences between being an anthropologist studying wealth and poverty and an economist doing the same.  As an anthropologist I am more focused on the social, cultural and cognitive motivations that either bind a person to poverty or allow them to experience the freedom of wealth.  This is a significant aspect of what Capitalism Saves is about; contrasting the Culture of Poverty of which I was a product, and the Culture of Wealth to which I aspire.

I had a conversation with a young woman the other day about the importance of financial discipline.  She told me that she had heard it all before.  “I know,” she said.  “Save all your money while you’re young so you can have it all when you’re old.  She continued, “I don’t want to wait until I’m old to enjoy life.  I want to enjoy life now.”  The statement was a bit oversimplified and shortsighted, but I withheld my rebuttal.  I was less interested in correcting her misunderstandings of a financial plan than I was in learning about the cognitive themes of financial self-sabotage.

It took me several days of reflecting on this exchange before I realized what’s going on here. (more)

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