Ep 44: Do You Have A Money Bias? And How Much Is It Costing You?

On This Episode

On this episode, we’ll breakdown a recent CNBC article that analyzes a recent Morningstar study. The study found that most of us have at least one money bias, some of us more than one, and that those biases are very possibly costing us money in our checking, savings, investing and retirement accounts. Listen to see if you might be impacted by a specific money bias and for strategies to get it back under control.

CNBC Article: https://cnb.cx/3KKXSHf

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PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. The topics and information discussed during this podcast are not intended to provide tax or legal advice. Investments involve risk, and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed on this podcast. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. Insurance products and services are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed insurance agents.

Here is a transcript of today’s episode:


Mark: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. It’s another addition of Retirement Planning – Redefined with John and Nick from PFG Private Wealth. We got to fun and interesting podcast this week to talk about, money biases and what those are, and are they costing you a little bit? If you have a money bias and you’re going to be probably surprised to find out that you indeed do most people, I think do have biases about a lot of things. So, that’s going to be on the podcast this go around. And of course, if you’ve got questions you need some help, always reach out to theguys@pfgprivatewealth.com. That’s p-f-g, private wealth.com. John, what’s going on, buddy? How you doing?


John: Hey, doing good. How are you?


Mark: Hanging in there. Doing pretty well. We were chatting a little bit off air and just talking about life, moaning and groaning a little bit, but overall you’re doing okay? Hanging in there?


John: Yeah. Yeah. We, we just wrapped up a golf tournament that we hosted with Bern’s Steakhouse. It’s our second one.


Mark: Nice.


John: Yeah. Finalizing the numbers, but looking like a pretty decent donation to a couple of local Tampa charities here, which are Blue Star Families and then Jackson In Action, 83 Foundation, both a military base. So, so we’re excited. It was a great event and we look forward to delivering the check soon.


Mark: That’s fantastic. Awesome. Nick, how you doing my friend?


Nick: Doing pretty good. It’s been a little bit of a crazy month, but have some vacation coming up, which will be nice, although I’m going to Key West and it’ll be my first time going there, so…


Mark: Okay.


Nick: I’m looking forward to seeing what that’s like.


Mark: Well, I don’t know how you’re getting there, but I filled up my truck yesterday and it cost me triple digits for the first time. It was over a hundred bucks.


Nick: Yeah. Luckily I’m flying. So…


Mark: All right.


Nick: We’re good to go.


Mark: Well, the inflation numbers came in for February 7.9%. I don’t know if you guys saw that at the time we’re taping that they just came out this morning, so yay. Right? So people are definitely frustrated and we’re kind of concerned. There’s a lot going on, obviously the stuff in the world and the market’s been reacting to that inflation is up. And so I thought it would be interesting to kind of have this chat. And we were talking about these money biases and how we feel about some of the different things. And I thought maybe it’d be a good idea to share some of this stuff with the listeners. So what we’ll do is we’ll also put a link to the article. This was a CNBC article guys, that was based off a Morningstar study. And I’ll let you guys talk about Morningstar if you’d like to, just to explain that to the folks in a second.


Mark: But the study found that most of us have at least one money bias, some of us more than others, and that biases are very possibly costing us additional money in our checking, savings, or investing in retirement accounts. So, we’ll see how this kind of impacts you and you’ll kind of learn a little bit about this along the way. So a couple of key points before we dive in is that everybody has different attitudes about money. No real shock there, right? We know that, but that new behavioral financial study from Morningstar found that 98% of the respondents exhibited one or more. So when we say just about everybody has one, that’s pretty true and that they are likely costing them some money. So we’ll jump right in and get going here and with take away number one. Nick, what are the four main biases that they talked about and that you guys see?


Nick: Yeah, we really wanted to kind of focus on this with this chaotic as the beginning of the year has been. we think that people taking a little self inventory on, on how they might make some decisions would be beneficial. So right. The first bias is called a present bias or really kind of like present time. So really what this focus is on is kind of the tendency to go for immediate rewards over long term goals, or, the good old instant gratification. I would say that, what’s interesting is, this can definitely be different for different age bands. So for people that, kind of like in that baby boomer era, they have their toes in this, for sure, whereas younger clients definitely. I would say it’s a little bit more dominant just because of the things that they’re used to and convenience and instant gratification.


Mark: Sure. The world we have. Yeah.


Nick: Yeah, for sure. And I think this is something that’s real important because this become a stronger and stronger bias just with things that we’re used to like news cycles and stuff like that. So, so that’s, that’s the first one.


Mark: Well, let, let me ask you a follow up on that real quick, Nick, before you move on. So with that present bias basically like it’s that idea of, I feel like I need to do something now. Right? So like we’ll use the market falling as an example. Right this minute we’re down about 10% I think in the S&P or into a correction, I guess officially. So I must… I must need to do something now, so I can see the response, the immediate response. That way I feel like I’ve done something that’s really what a present bias is.


Nick: Yep. Very much reactionary.


Mark: Okay.


Nick: Typically, and usually for most people, taking action at something like this, it’s oftentimes too late. So that can really turn into this kind of yo-yo effect of, waiting where this is one of the things that lead people to buy high in sell low, which is kind of the opposite.


Mark: Which is the wrong. Yeah. Okay.


Nick: Yeah.


Mark: So that’s the first one.


Nick: Yep. And then second one, is what’s called base rate neglect. So really what happens is, this is kind of focused on how you judge the probability of something happening based upon new information, while you essentially ignore your original assumptions. So this is something where, for example, the whole concept of best laid plans. So this is where planning can really come into play, where might get a call from a client that, maybe it’s a certain sector of the market. Hey, I want, I really want to jump into this certain sector of the market and they’re not taking into consideration that maybe they already have exposure to that.


Nick: Or again, maybe it’s a little bit too late and they’re forgetting all of the effort and all the time that has been put into kind of creating the overall plan and then overreacting to good or bad news. And, this is definitely something like, for example, for myself, right. That I have to have, people remind me, I know that this is something that happens to me where it’s like, because I do try to consume a lot of information and process, a lot of information and news where, dependent upon what’s going on. This can kind of throw me a little bit for it.


Mark: I gotcha. So let, let me, John, let me of get you in here on this for a quick second. So for example, what I’m hearing then, so the NASDAQ for example, is technically into bear territory now, cause it’s down 20 plus percent. So people calling up and saying, Hey, I need to get out of tech might be an example of this base rate neglect because they’re seeing the current situation and they’re reacting to the news versus does it make sense for their overall long term strategy?


John: Yeah. A hundred percent. It’s the whole, kind of going into behavioral finance where it’s, you’re selling out when, when you shouldn’t be, in reality, now’s the time you know, if, as Nick mentioned, it’s probably too late at this point.


Mark: Sure. Right.


John: It may be best just to stay of the course and stay in it, but a hundred percent that’s kind of what we typically see.


Mark: Okay. All right. Go ahead Nick, what the third one for us?


Nick: Sure. So third one is overconfidence. This is an interesting one. Also, one that I know that I have a bias, where it’s the whole concept of putting too much weight in your own abilities to make good financial decisions.


Mark: Sure. Yeah.


Nick: So, another way to think about this can be, is wanting to be right. And we tend to all want to be right. But then sometimes we will, double down or not take into consideration a concept of like a sunk cost where Hey, we’re not always going to be right. And sometimes it’s okay to make mistakes. You just want to learn from that. Oh definitely. And not double down, triple down, that sort of thing. So understanding that there’s law of large numbers and there’s efficiencies in different areas of the market and or planning. So being over confident, and again, this is something where if you look at the pie, you want to have your plan, your investment strategy, all that you want that pie to be, around 90% or so of the very strong part of your fundamental long term plan.


Nick: So sometimes having some of these biases on a small portion will help you really learn, usually people don’t, they try to do it on a much larger portion. So that’s a little bit of a takeaway too, is in moderation. Some of these things can be good because there are places where you can have a lot of upside that if you do it with the right amount of money and you take a little bit of risk with a smaller amount of money can help you kind of work through some of these biases without over overacting over correcting.


Mark: Oh, definitely. And if you think about the overconfidence bias here, Nick, I mean, we’ve basically been on a 12 year run, 12 plus year run with the market. So everybody’s been feeling pretty confident. I mean, 1920 and 21 all finished up with double digit years.


Nick: Right.


Mark: So it’s easy to feel confident when, when everything’s going up, everybody’s a genius, right?


Nick: Oh yeah.


Mark: So it’s when it’s going down that you start to get a little more concerned and maybe that overconfidence comes into play. And since we mentioned down, go ahead and go to the fourth one, which is the final one.


Nick: Sure. So the fourth one is going to be loss aversion. So a classic case of this is, because there’s different types of risk as well. And one of the risks that we talk about sometimes are inflationary risks, which we’re seeing now. So in other words, for people that might be way too heavy in cash over prolonged period of time, or they’re afraid to take any sort of risk, they don’t necessarily think about the trade off. So they, again, this is the concept of having a plan and having balanced, not only in your investments, but in your strategies and your overall planning is really important because as we see, sometimes people’s thought processes, well, hey cash, if I’m in cash, it’s okay. I just don’t want to lose my money while, in times of massive inflation or just compared to other areas of the market, there can be significant downside to, the concept of what some people may think is no risk can actually have quite a bit.


Mark: Okay. So those are the four biases then. So you’ve got the present bias, the base rate neglect of the overconfidence bias and the loss aversion. So John here’s the interesting part to me about this whole thing is take away number two, is that 98% of people are exhibiting at least one of these, what they found was the lower, the level of bias, the better your overall financial health. So if you only have one let’s say of these four, then you’re probably in better shape than someone that has two, which again, it kind of makes perfect sense, but there was some interesting statistics and information in this. So why don’t you talk to me a little bit about that?


John: Yeah, yeah. That is pretty interesting. Basically the lower level of bias you have, the better financial health you end up having. And it’s one of the ones here is like the present bias where basically research showed, if you have a low level of present bias, you were three times as likely to spend less than the money you that you make. So basically you’re going to be saving more money. So again, it’s kind of… You kind of look at this in life. You don’t have that instant gratification. You’re kind of looking at the long term of, Hey, I don’t need this today. You know, if you go to the store and buy something, do I really need that now? No, I don’t. I can hold off on it. You know, just making better financial decisions all around when you kind of break it down. Another one that was interesting with, with that, with the present bias was there’s seven times more likely to plan for the future.


Mark: Yeah.


John: So, so I get… [crosstalk 00:11:36] go ahead.


Mark: I was trying to say, so what I’m hearing there is then, is if they don’t re… If you don’t react, if you don’t give into the instant gratification bias, you typically were a better saver. Sounds like.


John: Better saver, better planner, just not reactionary to what’s going on. So it’s really the long term goal seems to be in mind with these type of people.


Mark: Seven times more likely. That’s pretty good.


John: Yeah. It makes me think I need to… I need to be a little less into gratification for myself.


Mark: There you go.


John: You know, it’s, I’m getting off topic here, but it’s funny. I was talking to my wife the other day with, we got Disney plus for the kids.


Mark: Sure.


John: And it’s like, oh, I want to watch this. And I started thinking, I’m like, man, I just remember just sitting there looking at the guide until, a TV show would finally pop on or a move I wanted to watch because you couldn’t watch things right away. You back in the late eighties.


Mark: And in those places, it’s great. Right. We enjoy that kind of stuff. But then what happens to this kind of this point is next thing you know, you’ve got 12 subscription services and you’re not using them all. So yeah.


John: Yeah. So anyhow, starting off on a tangent.


Mark: No, you’re fine.


John: But yeah, another one would be, overconfidence, lower level bias there. They found that people would have basically more savings. So again, back when Nick was staying with overconfidence in and I fall into this quite a bit, it’s like, ah I have some time I can build that up or whatever. And I’ve seen this quite a bit with some retirees. So, if you’re not over, you tend to save a little bit more and last one is the loss aversion of having lower 401k balance, the less bias you have towards that, the more apt you are to take a little more risk and save more into your 401k. And just as Nick mentioned here, not sit in cash and try to outpace inflation.


Mark: I gotcha. So yeah, if you, if you’re a bit more overconfident, you feel like you can kind of well, I’ll take some chances, right. Because I can get it back. So therefore I can build that savings back up or whatever the case is. So really interesting takeaways from that standpoint, when you think about it, because we all fall into one of these, whatever it might be. And so the lower level of money bias, typically the better financial health. Nick, so talk to me about some of the solutions Morningstar offered because they called it build a money life that fits your priorities, which makes a lot of sense for what you guys do as advisors to kind of find that right mold or fit for the individual.


Nick: Yeah. So it’s pretty interesting in… We joke a decent amount of time with clients and among each other that, our business is probably 20 to 30% finance and 70 to 80% therapist. And really it’s helping people with these sorts of things. So some of the things they talked about as far as what they call building a money life is kind of put some speed bumps or have a process in place for your decision making. So, one of the things that we try to get our clients to do as an example is that we have the… Because we are a planning focus firm and we use planning tools and software to help people model out different scenarios, we try to get them to start thinking through that realm because a lot… People have often like the quite, well, what about this?


Nick: Or what about that? Or should you know, one of the most common is, do I put extra money towards the mortgage or do I save some money? And the answer for everybody is different based upon what they’ve done up until that point. And so, for those that work with us, what we try to get them to do for those speed bumps is to say, number one, number two; number one, if there’s something that you’re concerned about, walk us through, what is the scenario that you’re concerned about? So for example, if you’re concerned about, the cost of fuel, cost of inflation, those sorts of things, in what way are you concerned about how that applies to you specifically? So not just the world and everybody on the news and all that kind of stuff, but how does it involve you specifically?


Nick: And so, okay. So, sometimes what people realize is that it’s not going to impact their life in a dramatic way. It could have some sort of impact on, the economy and those sorts of things. But most of the times it’s not going to have a massive impact on their life. And then we take it. So maybe, we figure that it could have some sort of impact. So then we can kind of go to the planning software and kind of model it and say, okay, well, if these things happen, let’s take a look and see what it looks like. And okay, so now that you see what it looks like, here are some of the decisions that you can make to bring that sort of risk down and have a little bit of clarity. And then we can go ahead and try to implement those decisions.


Nick: So instead of just these open-ended concerns of things that are not in anybody’s control, let’s look at the things that we do have in control. And those decisions that we can make to impact and make it easier. And kind of referring back to what we talked about earlier, where that kind of high level of base rate, and then the overconfidence for lower savings and checking, sometimes what ends up happening is that, and we try to remind people of this is, having a solid base of savings, cash savings is your permission slip for a lot of different things. So when people look at and realize like, Hey, that this is… These are exactly the times that we emphasize having this cash handy because we can deal with these fluctuations in the market. We don’t have to make irrational decisions because you’ve built this buffer and you’ve given yourself this permission slip to deal with these different sorts of circumstances.


Mark: That’s a great point. Yeah.


Nick: Yeah. So that can be interesting. And then if, you’re doing it on your own, maybe making some sort of process where, hey, you’ve got a couple of rules that you take into consideration where once you get to certain gains on an underlying investment, you’re okay selling, or you sell with half and maybe you let the rest of it ride. Or you just kind of give yourself a buffer time. You know, sometimes people will joke that they have rules for emails, like when they’re mad. So, give it an overnight, you’re ready to fire off an email, maybe it’s to a coworker it’s to a family member, whatever.


Mark: Right. Yeah.


Nick: Or text message.


Mark: Wait till you cool down.


Nick: Yeah, wait to cool down. And, or maybe haven’t had an adult beverage and give it a little bit of time because oftentimes, when we sit on it, we see that maybe even though we didn’t think we were, maybe we were a little over confident in what our thought process was previously.


Mark: So yeah. I like that idea, John, what do you think? Like one of the things they had on there, and I think this is a good idea was the whole, wait three days to make an important decision. I’ll use an exam… I mean, you’ve got the little ones there. That’s great advice to try to, raise kids on as well. My dad used to do that with me. Hey man, if it’s a good idea, on Monday, it’s still going to be a good idea on Friday. Right. But if something changed or you don’t feel like it’s a good idea, then it’s good that you waited before you took action. I’ve been thinking about buying a muscle car here recently. And of course, gas prices have got me second guessing that. So I went and looked at one last Friday and I still haven’t made a decision because I wanted to take that time to make sure I was making that right choice. Right. Don’t… That’s that instant gratification, I guess, take a few days… [crosstalk 00:18:48]


John: [crosstalk 00:18:48] A hundred percent.


Nick: [crosstalk 00:18:49] Or you might be getting a really good price right now. I mean…


Mark: Well, that’s true too, but.


Nick: So if you really want it…


Mark: What do you think, John?


John: I think it’s always best to wait a couple of days to see if that’s something you really want. I think, like you said there, it’s going to be there, and the price could jump up in three days in this environment. But I think it’s always best kind of way it a little bit before you make financial decisions. So you ultimately feel comfortable with decisions that you made. That it wasn’t kind of an impulse buy or decision…


Mark: Right. [crosstalk 00:19:20].


John: That could affect the rest of your life.


Mark: So, well, the speed bump idea was really good, right? The Morningstar, they called it speed bumps to place your… Slow down your decision making as Nick alluded to. And if you think about the stock market, right, they’ve got those circuit breakers in place. We saw that with COVID right. When the circuit breakers would kick in to prevent any more trading because it was falling so fast. So if you want to kind of use that same analogy, have some speed bumps or some circuit breakers in place for your decision making process. So lots of different ways we can look at it.


John: Yeah, another one in the article I was reading through is really, and it goes back to what we’re saying here, and what we always say is having a plan, a sense of direction and to tune out the news and really stop taking advice from your friends where it’s basically, “hey, I did this”, or “I’m buying this.” And especially with, we don’t advise on crypto, but you know, “I’m buying some crypto” and stuff like that. It’s really, have your plan and stick to what your plan is for versus listening to what other people are doing. That was also in the article, which I thought was an interesting point.


Mark: Yeah. Very good points. Well, I tell you what, like I said, we’re going to link this into the, to the show notes and information there. So if you’d like to check that out, you can. And as always, if you’ve got some questions, we’ll wrap this up this week about a money bias, your own money bias, which one you may be affected by. You should be able to tell if you suffer from the present bias that give me now thing, that base rate and neglect where you just react to the news, the overconfidence of feeling like you’ve got it all figured out, you’ve mastered it all. Or maybe just the loss of version where that fear of losing money, just really kind of cripples you either way, it could be costing you money. So reach out to the guys, if you’ve got questions on how to control this.


Mark: And I think that’s some of the value that an advisor brings to the table is they’re not going to have those biases about your portfolio plan because it’s not their money, right? So they’re there to help guide you and be that sounding board and be that coach. So reach out to John and Nick, if you some questions at PFGprivatewealth.com, that’s PFGprivatewealth.com. Before you take any action, you should always check with a qualified professional, like the guys, they are financial advisors at PFG Private Wealth. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on Apple, Google, Spotify, or whatever platform you’d like to listen to. And if you’d like to learn more about some of those charities that they were… John was talking about earlier in the show, or maybe attend the next time they do one of those events, again, reach out to them at PFG Private Wealth. For John and Nick, I’m Mark, thanks for hanging out with us. We’ll see you next time here on the podcast, Retirement Planning – Redefined.