Psychology saves

addicted to saving money

1. On taking transit - There is a chauffeur ready to take you to where you want to go at almost any time of the day, it’s cheap,  provides valuable thinking and internets time, and if needed includes a handy BAC > 0 feature! 

2. On walking/cycling instead of having a car - Getting paid to significantly reduce the risk of the most common causes of debilitation and death while improving your physique!  

3. On not having cable TV - People don’t routinely barge into your home unannounced and fabricate a need in your mind which compels you to give them some of your freedom (i.e. money) or feel disadvantaged. 

4. On room-mates - Getting paid to socialize!

5. On cycling in the rain - Sprinklers are fun, how is this so different?*

6. On saving money - Getting paid to figure out how to not buy things (or do so more efficiently) where, after each discovery, the paycheque comes in for the rest of your life by default!

7. On lifestyle inflation - Disparaging the value in your past while sacrificing your future position of strength. 

8. On hardship - Stretching your perspective so that your typical days, the ones you have the most, come to you easily and leave you smiling!

9. On failure - The number of times you have to fail before succeeding at something is a pre-determined number that you are simply not aware of.   What you do know, is that you crossed one off the list.  That same failure was also secretly crossed off of dozens of other lists corresponding to other successes that you are not yet aware of! 

10. On grad school – see numbers 1 through 9

*When the answer is "because it's cold", I usually just fall back on trusty old number 8 : ) 


Today I want to talk about one of the best pieces of advice that I think I've ever been given.  The advice relates to a habit that I think is all too common in everyday life.  For me (and I suspect many in academia), this habit is so strong it's essentially an automatic reflex!  The habit goes as follows:

Learning to run

Busy busy busy, my writing sure has taken a hit over the holiday season!  Lots of good times all around, but I'm beginning to think that the real reason I haven't found (allocated) the time to write a new post is due to my recent committee meeting.  It's no secret how important I think committee meetings are and this last one did not disappoint!

Committee meetings can help you to collect your thoughts and give you a topographical view of your research.  You zoom out from all the nitty gritty and see the lay of the land.  You re-establish your frame of reference which is essential to directing your future efforts in a productive way.  In anticipation of these types of discussions, I included a master list in my presentation of all the things I needed to do until the date I'm "supposed" to graduate (i.e. four years after I started). 

"Things to do in the next 20 months" 

There was a problem with the list though...

Where's your money at?

Congratulations! You are a contestant on the epic Canadian game show "The Amazing Hike."  Over the course of two weeks you and a randomly selected teammate must hike across a rugged and heavily forested region of northern Ontario.  Each team will be given basic supplies and then air dropped at a random location approximately two-hundred kilometers from the final destination point.  If you make it to this point before all of the other teams you will win a huge cash prize! There's only one catch...

It's a compound kind of life

Have you ever met someone who seems to be wildly successful in every way?  They're crazy happy, healthy, hilarious, generous, have a great career, a wonderful spouse, and an incredible array of close friends.  Their journey through life appears smooth and effortless, skipping over difficult obstacles like they were nothing and laughing all the way!

Conversely, have you ever met someone whose life is a total disaster?  Every problem is twisted into a complicated and seemingly inextricable knot with all of their other problems.  Even if they could summon up the requisite courage to stage an assault on their tribulations you wouldn't have a clue where they should begin.

In both of these cases the question invariably arises,  "How does someone get like that?"

Within the first context, we might answer this question with a sigh of longing and perhaps a "I don't know, but that will never happen to me..."  In the second, we might answer with a sigh of relief and another chorus of "I don't know, but that will never happen to me!"  Becoming like these individuals seems extremely unlikely because their reality seems so far away from our own.  However, I think that we are far closer to becoming like either of these people than we might think!  Here's why...

A graduation present

You're about to complete your PhD after four or more years of post-post-secondary.  Do you know where your savings are? Think you have none? 

That's about $4200 shown above (no it's not mine...yet).  Looks pretty sweet though doesn't it? But if I had to choose between this stack of bills and the stack that could be waiting for us at the end of our degrees, I'd choose the latter.  You would too... 

A Badass training ground

The sight of all that water just makes you feel good doesn't it?  We need it to live, we are over 50% composed of the stuff, and most folks agree that we originated from it.  This uncomplicated love affair isn't going to appear on the day time soaps any time soon. Trouble is, this is a coastal beach in Australia.  All that water is undrinkable unless you carry around a desalination plant in your pocket! 

In May of this year, I had the incredible opportunity to go to Australia for a conference and then hostel my way up the coast.  In summary, it was fricking awesome!  One of the things that really struck me though was the lack of fresh water there.  I noted that every hostel I stayed in had a sign indicating that showers should be kept to a maximum of 5 minutes in length.*  Here in Canada, the supply of fresh water really isn't something we tend to think about very often.  For all intents and purposes, we have ALL the fresh water!  Actually about a fifth of "all" of it, but we only constitute about 0.4% of the world's population.  Lucky us!

What happens though when you have a lot of something?  You don't have to keep track of it, you don't have to conserve it and you certainly don't have to learn to use it efficiently.  In the absence of external pressures there is just very little reason to do otherwise.  Behaviour and expectations begin to change over time.  Demand naturally begins to exceed the actual need and then if enough time passes the increased consumption is perceived as "needed."  However at this point, from a purely functional perspective, the increased level of consumption IS needed.  This is because the ability/expertise/knowledge of how to get by just as happily with less is lost through disuse.  All of a sudden, a maximum 5-minute shower becomes a noteworthy challenge...

So what else does Canada have "all" of?