Your doctor called and left a message. They want you to call them back. (Gulp.) Or maybe your partner says they want to have a serious chat, which is why you’re working overtime. When it comes to information we think will be bad, we subconsciously work to avoid it at all costs. This is known as the Ostrich Effect, and you’d better believe it comes into play with money matters.
If you’ve ever avoided looking at your credit card statement, your credit score or your bank account altogether, you’re familiar with this cognitive bias. Researchers have found that bad emotional feelings can register the same as physical pain, so it’s natural that we try to avoid them. In an effort to help us out, our minds allow us to procrastinate or avoid something for the sake of not getting hurt. It makes sense, but it isn’t sustainable. Ultimately, we can’t avoid pain forever and we will have to confront our hardships at some point. The bright side? We’ll end up being better for it, despite the initial discomfort.
Use this knowledge That invoice you’ve had sitting around might seem really scary to open, but late fees and other charges are even worse. Set one day of the week to go over bills and account statements. You can use a recurring digital reminder to ensure you confront your finances if you find you're avoiding them. Once you face your fears you'll find they're easier to conquer than you think.