Spending More on a Cup of Coffee than Our Future

Personal insights from Carla Jackson, Senior Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager

The other day, I read a surprising statistic from Lenedu.com that 27% of 1,000 millennials surveyed in July 2018 spend more money on coffee each month than what they set aside and invest monthly for their retirement.

Wow!  Now, I am not harping on millennials, I am sure you can look under the hood of most any generation and be surprised at how little we all save.  But, I just want to know why? What can we do about it?  As Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:  “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Ben Franklin should know because he’s on the $100 bill.

After doing some research, I found the mind operates with two perspectives:  your present self and your future self.  The present self is always on the lookout to maximize pleasure “RIGHT NOW”.  Whereas, the future self is the one that sets up goals and helps you to maintain long-term happiness.  It boils down to human behavior and psychology.  It boils down to the eternal battle between our present self vs. our future self.  We are in our own personal heavy weight championship title fight.

The present self is the self that had me buy a bag of peanut M&Ms at the grocery store yesterday when I am currently on a diet, but I was shopping “hungry”.  The future self of me is the one showing up, begrudgingly to my gym sessions every week because my long-term goal is to be healthy.  The present self was me skipping classes in college, whereas, my future self was sticking it out for the four years and getting a college education.

What is unfortunate is that the present self easily trumps the future self because our internal reward system isn’t very good at discounting the present value of future rewards; meaning, we favor immediate rewards over future gratification.  How do you measure today in some sort of value or reward when the actual reward comes perhaps one, four, or 10 or more years from now?

Read Retirement Savings Tips for Millennials.   

How can we invest in our future selves? How do we make the transition?

Several online articles suggested some questions and exercises we can do:

We can ask ourselves:

  • “Am I prioritizing my present or future self in this area of my life?”
  • If I want to be more future self-minded: “What actions or habits of mine do I need to change?”
  • “In what ways am I sabotaging myself by thinking from a present self-mindset?”

Exercise #1:  Take five minutes and ask yourself “How are my actions today influencing where I will be in the future?”

Exercise #2:  Imagine what your life may be like in five years, 10 years, and 20 years.  What are some possible paths you might travel down?

I am not saying that we should always be thinking about the future.  We need to enjoy the present, too!  But, we need to actively balance our present and future selves.  The ability to plan our future is a unique trait for us humans compared to animals.  For us humans, it is and has to be a conscious cognitive process.

I hope this brief insight empowers you and helps you to take the right steps toward “Living a Wealthier Lifestyle” for you, your family, and your business.

To find out how we can help you navigate your present and future investments, contact First Bank Wealth Management.


By: Carla Jackson
                            Carla Jackson, Senior Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager for First Bank Wealth Management, works with individual clients, families, and charitable foundations as an investment advisor for their trusts and investment management accounts. Carla may be reached by phone at 314-889-1047 or via email at [email protected].