Most people, if not everyone, use mental accounting on a daily basis when it comes to financial decisions. A common example would be the way a person more readily spends his year-end bonus.
Take one more example: If you were going to spend $100 on an item and realised there was a cheaper source 15 minutes away selling it for $95, would you take the effort to obtain it from the cheaper source? What if the item was $10, and the other place was selling it for $5?
Do you suffer from “Dollar X Syndrome”?
There are many people who suffer from Dollar X Syndrome which prevents them from effectively accumulating their savings. They will either consciously or unknowingly associate an arbitrary amount of savings in their bank as a comfortable figure of money to have. When their savings fall below $X, they start to become uneasy and save more to reach closer to their comfort zone. When they have more than $X, they feel comfortable to spend, usually unnecessarily, until they fall back down to X dollars.
There are quite a few people – friends and clients alike – I speak to who do not have an idea of how much they are spending, which translates into not knowing how much of their paycheques they are left with at the end of each month. With cash flow the basis of financial planning, such information is valuable in order for a proper financial plan or portfolio to be set up.
Even during my days as a National Serviceman I have been logging my expenses into my then non-camera smartphone. I believe that it was an important factor how I managed to finish my two-year National Service with more money than I had first entered the army despite a sub-$500 per month allowance.
Now, with smartphones – especially the iPhone – ubiquitous, it is even easier to record one’s expenses on the go.