In this series of articles, Daniella Camilleri, our Comms & Community Lead will chat about everyday life, how it influences our money, and how Plum can help.
It is easy to be influenced by those around you.
We all know about how social media can cause you to compare yourself unnecessarily to others and create unrealistic and unhealthy expectations. But what about the stuff you can do? What about the impact it has on your day to day decisions? On your bank balance? Just how much of your life is influenced by others?
Let me give you an example:
You want to go on holiday and want to chose where to go. You already have a clear idea of a few places you want to go before you even start looking at flights. You are not sure why but 'Peru' is just calling out to you. Turns out a few of your friends have recently been to Peru in the last few months, a couple more are planning to go, and it seems like your feed is full of semi-strangers in Peru. What is it with Peru? Are there cheap flights or something? Nope. So what is it?
This is a pretty well documented behaviour in certain industries, most notably fashion. People get inspired by other people, people want to portray a certain image, to fit into a particular group. In fact, it can be much simpler than that, sometimes the sheer volume or repetition of a thing can cause you to adopt it. We have all bought something we absolutely needed to have only to look at it a few weeks later and ask ourselves why? For most of us aside from being branded 'basic' it's nothing that can't be fixed by Marie Kondoing your wardrobe. For some of us, we can get into debt chasing an idea which wasn't ours in the first place.
But what happens when this behaviour is applied to more important life changing stuff? Like 'everyone seems to be splitting up / getting married / having a baby / getting a pet / buying a house / quitting their job / changing their career path / moving country'. You get the idea. These changes can have significant lasting repercussions on our ability to do other things in the future, particularly when it comes to changes that impact our finances, which most things do.
The problem is we could be making huge changes to our lives without really ever considering why and what led us there. The result is we aren't really living our own lives or choosing our own paths; we are giving the reins over to others about how we think, feel and live.
And it's not just decisions in our own lives which can be affected. It's our outlook, our morals, our politics, our ideas, our vocabulary. It can change the way we we respond to things, how we respond to each other, how we vote. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy catalysed by algorithms that serve us similar content after a few likes, building and reaffirming a particular perspective, for better or for worse. The effects of this are rampant to see and it's becoming more important (and necessary) than ever to make sure your thoughts are your own.
So what do we do?
It's ok to be influenced. Taking inspiration and sharing ideas is great and should not be avoided. The problem only comes when the balance between what comes from you and what comes from others is skewed towards the latter.
Be self-aware. This is sound advice in almost every situation and something we could all be a little better at...if we are being honest with ourselves. Next time you have an urge to do/say/feel something ask yourself a few questions and answer them honestly: When did I first get this idea? What sparked this idea? Why is it right for me? What is motivating me? What do I hope to gain? How does this tie in to who I am/who I aspire to be?
It's a two way street. You don't have to be an influencer to influence. Take responsibility for what you are putting out there and how it could impact others.
Be brave. Making your own path is scary. You can't rely on the advice and experience of others. You don't know what to expect. You might fail. People will probably have an opinion on it. That's ok, in fact, that's what makes it exciting and worthwhile. After all it's no fun watching a film when you already know what happens.
'Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail' - Ralph Waldo Emerson
How Plum can help
Most of these decisions can have pretty significant impact on your finances. Whether you need money to do them, or it is going to reduce the amount you have coming in.
Plum can help here in a few ways:
By building up needed funds. Plum helps you build up your savings gradually so you have the money to do you. Want to got to Peru anyway? Plum can get you there. What's great is Plum adjusts how much it saves for you based on your recent spending patterns. So you don't have to create and stick to a budget to save money consistently. That means you can start taking Spanish classes for your Peru trip without having to worry about paying for your flights, it's already taken care of.
By automating your financial goals. This stops you from getting side tracked because of something which has influenced you lately. Every day there is a different article telling us what we should be doing with our money. It's a great/terrible time to buy a house/bitcoin/stocks all in the same week. By automating this you remove the temptation to make financial decisions based on emotional factors. Several studies have found this is the best way to manage your money. In fact, if you are investing, this principle is the basis of many risk managing strategies.
By freeing up your time and your mind. By automating your finances you no longer have to remember to do something, let alone sit there and actually do it. You also don't have to spend valuable time worrying about the fact that you haven't done it and probably should. From saving to investing, switching to cheaper bills and getting yourself out of your overdraft, Plum can do the leg work for you.