The Secret Is Not Caring (Financial Psychology)

not caring

It’s simple, just don’t care.

This would solve 95% of common psychological problems associated with finance.

A rule is needed because this stuff can be hard.

It can be stressful.

It’s difficult not to fall into common traps.

Especially if you’re not a psychopath/completely emotionless/more stoic than Seneca.


If I don’t care I’ll just spend all my money, not save, take outrageous risks, {I tend to stop listening at this point}”

Obviously, this is conditional on you acting (mostly) correctly.

In getting the basics right. On saving, reducing expenses, investing sensibly, etc.

My point here is mostly about addressing the psychological pain that acting in such a way can be accompanied by.

And also why this attitude helps with acting correctly.

Don’t Take It Personally

We start with personal finance.

Note the common personal finance traps below. As you read, think about how caring less helps to prevent you falling into them

Lifestyle creep

Major lifestyle creep is mainly driven by social pressure, explicit or otherwise.

The smaller stuff tends to be for your “comfort” i.e. a bigger TV, a designer shirt or some lovely soft new pillows.

But the big stuff is driven by society.

Think about why, really try and think why, you want to upgrade your living situation.

If most people were honest with themselves, it’s to impress others.

Parents. Siblings. Friends. Or because you feel slightly embarrassed by your current residence (and are subtly shamed for it by those you try to impress).

 The same can be said of other big purchases.

Consumer jealousy

Sitting right next to this is being jealous of the toys others around you are playing with.

But Mum, Jake has a new Patek, I want one now.

No, you don’t need, or actually really want, that shiny new whatever that your mate just got.


This is kind of obvious.

But there are some non-obvious ways in which caring too much hurts.

It can hinder your income.

First – being too concerned with what career path others are taking and what others will think about you and your short-term income inhibits your ability to generate long-term income. Because you:

  • Follow the ultra-competitive, commonly-trodden career paths. Yes, these are good opportunities that teach you lots and open up doors for you and blahbeddy blah blah blah. But these jobs are difficult to acquire. Changing what you naturally gravitate towards to fit a seemingly-sexy career path is a mistake. Your career should fit what you do, not the other way around.
  • Fail to find a job that genuinely fits your skills 
  • Sacrifice a bit of short-term income to learn the skills and build the network required to maximise long-term income. Who do you think catches more fish? The guy that spends all day using his net to catch as many as possible, or the gal who spends the last hour of her day creating a fishing rod? In the short-term, the guy (and he brags about it). What about the long term?

Second – being worried about getting fired because you really don’t want to lose your job.

This means you’ll be too scared to ask for a pay rise, challenge your boss, bring a new idea to the table and so on.

Third – being too scared to start a side hustle.

Because doing that requires putting yourself out there.

What will others think of me if I fail? Gosh, that would be embarrassing.  

Stick to the plan

All this and more means you can go off-road/off-plan/off-track if you care too much about what others and that nagging voice in the back of your head think and say about you.

We aren’t wired to think long-term, our ancestors never had to.

We are wired for instant gratification, dopamine hits and tribal living.

This means that our brains scream at us to spend money for short-term, collectivist pleasure, even when we “know” we shouldn’t.

This is why you have to try quite hard not to try because doing so solves the problems listed above.

Set It and Forget It

You can invest this extra money saved by not caring.

And hey guess what not caring also helps you out here, too.

Forever blowing bubbles

You’ll only get pulled into investing in what’s clearly (retrospectively) a bubble if you care about what others are doing and buying.

And how much money they are making (en papier).

Even better if you don’t even really know this because you don’t care to the extent that you don’t keep up to date with the most recent trends and news.

Panic stations

And this means you can’t panic sell when the bubble bursts- you don’t have to.

If you don’t care you also won’t sell in other scenarios in which the market is falling. 

Buy buy buy

In fact, you have the ability to be, as Mr. Buffet says, greedy when others are fearful.

The “terrible” news deters other buyers but not you.

You have the ability to take advantage of this herd behaviour and buy assets on the cheap.

Zoom Out

Not caring works in application and at a high level.

It allows you to focus on the things that really matter.

Things that really move the needle.

You can discard 99% of things that don’t matter and focus on getting the big things right. 

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This was a guest post from Haydn who is the author of This is a blog that takes a step back from the tactics and tools of personal finance/investing to consider the why behind the recommendations. He’d love to collaborate and support others interested in similar topics – drop a message to @HaydnMartin_ on twitter to get in touch!