Ask Your Future Self
There are so many songs, books and movies about what it would be like to travel in time. What if we told you there is one way you actually can – sort of – make good use of time travel with respect to your wealth?
Remember our friend John Jennings, and his Interesting Fact of the Day (IFOD) blog? John recently covered this subject in his IFOD post, “Discounting the Future,” and how this phenomenon can impact your personal and financial habits.
For example, when his daughter Claire decided to put off doing her homework, she told him she was “going to let future Claire worry about the project.” (I kind of hope my daughter Harper isn’t reading this!) She was prioritizing the instant gratification of enjoying her current leisure time, and discounting the more distant reward of having the project already completed by the time “future Claire” was wishing she could goof off.
When it comes to our money, discounting the future can trick us into treating future dollars as less valuable than current ones. For example, if someone offers you $100 today or $200 six months from now, you may opt for the instant cash, discounting the extra $100 your future self would have enjoyed. Which choice you’ll prefer can vary, depending on how far in the future you’re being asked to wait, as well as how much money is involved.
If we haven’t yet nailed the idea, please take a minute to read John’s phenomenal post, and be sure to look for comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s explanation of the concept. Before you know it, you’ll be asking yourself questions about what your future self will think about your current self for the next few weeks – and likely making better decisions for the long view.