You know you need to save money. You try to look for the best deals. But are you really going about it the right way? Maybe not.
In a new CNBC and Acorns Invest In You Savings Survey , a majority of respondents fell for this trick question: Would you rather get 10% off a $100 item or drive five miles out of your way and get 20% off a $50 item? Of those polled, 51% chose going out of their way for what they thought was a better deal. However, the savings were the same.
Females were more likely to go for the 20% savings, with 55% of them choosing that option, versus 50% of men. The number was higher for single women who never married.
Financial psychologist and certified financial planner Brad Klontz said people tend to make money decisions from their emotional brain, not their rational one. “We have a very hard time understanding and being motivated by abstract ideas,” he said. So when you start throwing percentages around, “it’s really easy for us to make a dumb decision or … one that isn’t in line with our best interest,” he added. “It starts to get abstract.”
Getting it right is important, especially if you are among the vast majority of Americans who manage their own finances. According to the survey, 75% do so. That means getting your mind around the concept of money and saving, said Klontz, co-founder of Your Mental Wealth and the Financial Psychology Institute. “Money is the biggest stressor in the lives of Americans — hands down,” he said.
However, stress and anxiety are only part of the equation. Education also plays a role. Just like people need to learn how to drive, they need to learn how to manage their money, said CFP Lazetta Braxton, founder and CEO of Financial Fountains. “For a lot of people, it feels like it’s supposed to be common sense but often times it’s just not” she said. “It’s its own body of knowledge.”
When broken down by age, older Americans were less likely to fall for the trick question, while younger people were more susceptible. There were also differences seen in income levels — those making less than $50,000 a year were more likely to go for the 20% deal.