Posted by Jean
As some of you may know, I’m fascinated by articles and studies that tie psychology to finance. It’s interesting to read about how our brains makes us behave in certain ways when it comes to money: how, for example, breaking large bills is psychologically harder than breaking a $5 bill, and why it’s a bad idea to try on a piece of clothing if we’re “just looking.” (Hint: when your brain sees the item on your body, it takes ownership of that item. Once this happens, not buying the item is seen as a loss.)
Perhaps this is why an article in New York magazine caught my eye this weekend: “new research suggests that more money makes people less human,” it said. Or, as lead researcher Paul Piff bluntly noted: “While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything, the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, [jerks].” (Okay, Piff used another word, but it’s one of those that I have tried to eliminate from my kids’ vocabulary, so I didn’t think it belonged here.)
Piff and his fellow researchers at UC Berkeley aren’t looking to stoke the embers of the debate over the so-called “one-percent.” Rather, they want to answer one key question: “How does living in an environment defined by individual achievement alter a person’s mental machinery to the point where he begins to see the people around him only as aids or obstacles to his own ambitions?”
There’s no clear-cut answer just yet, but in aggregating the results of specific case studies, like which drivers are most likely to cut off other drivers (answer: the upper class drivers), Piff’s research found a “strong correlation” between a higher socioeconomic standing and a lower interpersonal regard.
The article is a bit long, but well worth the read. New York magazine also worked with Piff to create a quiz – “How Money Addled Are You?” – to determine whether or not money has affected your own level of empathy. Fascinating, right?
And now, here are the other headlines for the week:
With Independence Comes… Sales!
If you’re looking to escape the heat this 4th of July, taking refuge in a mall might not be the absolute worst thing for your wallet – but only if you hit the right stores. According to DealNews.com, tomorrow marks the beginning of great sales on apparel, home improvement goods and mattresses. (Mattress sales, interestingly enough, take the cake: Sears is offering mattresses for 50 to 60 percent off plus options for special financing and free delivery.)
For those of you looking to plan out your shopping for the month, DealNews also published this guide to the best and worst items to buy in July. Among the worst: grill deals. If you can wait until August, you’ll get a better selection and slightly better prices.
Keeping Track of Rewards Points
According to a recent study, the average American household has 18 reward program memberships. If this describes your house, do you know exactly how many points you have in each rewards program? … No? I’m not surprised. It can be tough to keep track!
This Reuters article addresses that problem, and provides the names of some great points-tracking sites. For tracking airline rewards, it recommends GoMiles.com, MileWise and MileageManager; for one-stop shopping, it recommends AwardWallet.com, Points.com and MyRewardsTree.
Do any of you already use these tracking sites? If so — do they help?
Don’t Let Work Take Over Your Vacation
I’m sure many of you are planning to take some time off this summer, which is why I wanted to end this week’s newsletter with an article from the New York Times. It talks about the ways technology and work can sabotage our vacations, leaving us unrelaxed and just as stressed as we were before we even left the office. Among the tips in the article: turn your devices off at least an hour before you go to bed, in order to really decompress. Dive into a new activity, like hiking or snorkeling — something that will take your mind off of what you might be missing at work. Now, if you’re like me and get stressed out if you can’t check your email at least once a day, don’t abandon technology completely, but do avoid “flirting” with work. If you bring yourlaptop to the pool with hopes of getting something done, chances are you will be sorely disappointed. Not to mention, you risk getting that laptop wet, which can’t be good for yourstress levels!
Have a great week – and a happy and safe 4th of July!