Certified Financial Planner Explains Why We Need To Ditch The ‘Ostrich Syndrome’ When Rethinking Our Money

Ostriches in the wilf
via Pixabay

Ever felt like your bank account suffers from a midlife crisis every two weeks? Welcome to the club.

In an age of endless digital temptations and the lure of instant gratification, our bond with money has never been more fractured. It’s not just about the balance (or the all-too-frequent lack thereof); it’s about our relationship with every dollar earned and spent.

Our financial decisions are not just transactions but reflections of our values, ambitions, stressors, and even our fears. To truly prosper, it’s crucial to untangle the web of emotions and impulses that drive our fiscal choices and establish a healthier, more sustainable connection with our finances.

Patrick Donnelly is a CFP®, registered investment advisor, and principal of Donnelly Financial Services, which specializes in retirement planning, investment management, and pre-retirement planning.

Donnelly explains that the best way to reset our financial compass isn’t merely through spreadsheets and savings rates. Instead, it’s rooted in understanding our money narratives: the stories we tell ourselves about wealth, worth, and financial freedom. By recognizing the patterns and subconscious beliefs that shape our spending and saving behaviors, we can rewrite a future where financial wellbeing aligns seamlessly with our life goals. It’s about crafting a relationship with money that’s not dictated by societal pressures or fleeting desires, but one that’s anchored in purpose, clarity, and a dash of self-awareness.

“People have a really hard time articulating specific financial goals,” says Patrick. A shocking revelation? Not really. Most of us can scream our favorite pizza toppings in a crowded room but stumble when asked about our financial objectives. We can feel the vagueness of wanting a better future, perhaps in a swanky loft downtown, but mapping the road to that penthouse? That’s the blur.

All That Glitters Isn’t Gold (or Money)

Next, let’s unroll the green carpet for the high earners. Money pouring in like a relentless waterfall? You must be rolling in financial bliss. Wrong. Patrick delivers the punch: “Just because you’re making a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wealthy or financially successful. Cash flow is not wealth.”

Mic drop. Yes, that glitzy neighbor of yours who’s “making it rain” every weekend might just be as broke as your college-self.

Your Money Mindset: A Psychological Deep Dive

Diving deeper into the money mindset, Patrick says, “Money psychology is the single biggest determining factor around your financial wellbeing.” Our financial status is not just a snapshot, it’s a movie—comprising “hundreds if not thousands of decisions.”

If money were food, consider every dollar a calorie count, and be mindful of those indulgences.

The Age of Immediate Gratification

Now, speaking of indulgence, aren’t we all guilty of a little too much? The world today offers temptations aplenty, right from the comfort of our homes (Thanks, Amazon and Uber Eats). “We are especially guilty of immediate gratification,” says Patrick. Convenience is great, but if you’re consistently treating yourself to coffee and your credit card like a limitless buffet, it’s heartburn waiting to happen.

From Ostrich Syndrome to Financial Falcon

Finally, Patrick addresses the ‘Ostrich Syndrome’. Burying your head in the sand and ignoring finances won’t make the wolves go away. And waiting for a cash inflow waterfall to begin your fiscal discipline is like waiting for the next summer to start your diet. You’ll forever remain “two weeks away from beach bod.”

Patrick’s advice? “Address the small stuff today.” Start now. Not when your paycheck gets a zero added. Not when you finally decide to dust off that piggy bank. But today.

In essence, financial literacy isn’t just about understanding the jargons or acing stock markets. It’s about understanding our relationship with money and striving for a fulfilling, not just a filled, future.

B. Carlisle

Contributing editor at Wealth Gang. An entrepreneur at heart, he's passionate about meaningful ways to leverage technology and social media for business opportunities and side hustles.