blogPg07_ssp.html eMONEY: A USER GUIDE

SPENDING SHOULD BE A DELIBERATE ACT TARGETING YOUR PRE-EMINENT NEED

In a perfect world, we are infallible. I hate to be the bearer of bad new, but we do not live in a perfect world. Realistically-speaking, you will not be able to live up to the standard of perfection implied in the heading above. All you can do is accept the fact that each time you deviate from it, there is a cost.

What comes next depends on where you are (remember the mall map?); whether you have dug, and are still digging, yourself a hole, and if so, how deep it is and how much deeper it is getting every month. It's a simple mathematical equation: i - e = b (INCOME - EXPENSES = BOTTOM LINE). If b is a positive number, kudos to you. If b is a negative number, Hello, Betty.


We touched briefly on Maslow's Hierarchy earlier, in the Orientation. We revisit that subject now.



MOTIVATION

Human Motivation occupies more than a few acres in the field of psychology. Psychologists study ineffective behavior in an attempt to understand why some people are less competent (less able to navigate life's exigencies) than others.

Abraham Maslow focused his research on exceptionally capable individuals, leaders in their respective fields. He wanted to know how people arrived at (emotionally) healthy choices. To Maslow's way of thinking, if you want to know how people run, observe the general population; if you want to know how people run fast, observe Olympic gold-medalists.


I lied.

Satisfaction of Basic needs (Physiological, Safety & Security) sets the stage for satisfaction of Social needs (Love & Belongingness, Esteem), which in turn paves the way for satisfaction of the highest-level need (Self-actualization).

However, counter-intuitive as it may sound, higher-level needs have lower priority. Think about it: artistic expression indeed ranks among the higher-level needs. However, no one writes music while being attacked by lions. Why? Because survival is a higher-priority need, a prerequisite; you can't write music if you're dead.

One last thing, then we'll move on.

We humans are subconsciously motivated to better ourselves; instinctively driven to develop that which we do well. Identifying and satisfying needs that propel us along that path is the mechanism by which we will get there. Oh, to operate at peak capacity. But there is no shortcut, no wormhole. It's just not possible to climb to the top of the ladder without stepping foot on every rung.

Mankind did not go from hunter-gatherer directly to space traveler. There were intermediate steps; needs to be met along the way: the wheel, language, iron. It was a long and arduous journey, one that is recorded in the subconscious of every living being; their inheritance, from of all who came before. Our purpose - those of us living today - is to kick the can down the road, to improve on what we've been given.

A boxer will tell you that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. When it comes to financial goals, the quickest way to get from here to there, is to not wander from the route chosen. Concerning the subject at hand, spending money on things that don't propel us forward along that path is, well ... , self-defeating. It seems there is no end to what some will do to undermine their own happiness - present company excepted.

A huge mistake people make (a common mistake) is to acquire housing, then try to meet your other needs with the money left over. That may be the way it's done, but it's putting the cart before the horse. You've got to do things in the right order. When getting ready to go out, you don't get dressed and then take a shower! Housing is important, for sure. But what good is a nice, big house if there's no money left for furniture? Or food in the refrigerator?


MY ADVICE?

Prioritize.

If, like most people, you have at some point in your life not had enough money to do whatever you want, you have to "prioritize". This is the one area that, in my opinion, no book written for the consumer has properly addressed. We are told to "distinguish between needs and wants". Sorry. That's not good enough. How does advice like that help somebody who doesn't know whether they're going to have enough money to last until payday? Or is already behind on their rent? Or has higher than the national average in credit card debt ($6,200 spread across for credit cards: 2019)? As my grandson Nick says, "That's bullcrap!" Nick is eleven.

If I had to pick one thing this blog has to offer that cannot be found anywhere else, it's a definitive solution for prioritizing expenses. And, for the life of me, I can't understand why someone hasn't come up with this idea before: just ask, What Would Maslow Do?


WWMD?

Should the return to SUMMARY suggest that Adjustments are warranted, simply ask yourself:

If we view Maslow's hierarchy in terms of needs met, rather than needs, it becomes a blueprint for prioritizing expenses - one devoid of subjectivity. For those who sometimes find it difficult to make ends meet, not to mention those who believe they cannot rise above their circumstances, as well as nearly all other members of the class of 99 (%), a guide to spending in accordance with the motivational drives of exceptionally capable people can lead nowhere but financial prosperity. Had I not been living it for the past fifteen years, it could just be one man's opinion.


IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH HEALTHY HUMAN GROWTH

Human Motivation occupies a couple acres in the field of psychology. Psychologists study ineffective behavior in an attempt to understand why some people are less competent (less able to navigate life's exigencies) than others.

Abraham Maslow focused his research on exceptionally capable individuals, leaders in their respective fields. He wanted to know how people arrived at (emotionally) healthy choices. To Maslow's way of thinking, to see how people run, observe the general population; to see how people run excetionally well, observe olympic gold-medalists.


WWMD?

To borrow a page from Maslow's playbook, adapting his Hierarchy of Needs to prioritizing expenses produces results superior to individual subjective judgement, especially for those who believe they cannot rise above their circumstances, as well as those who sometimes find it difficult to make ends meet. Prioritizing expenses in accordance with the motivational drives of exceptionally capable people highlights the road to financial recovery.


P-Val


A Sound Spending Plan


One reason people claim budgets don't work is

Another reason people claim budgets don't work is


Allocation

Maslow

In my opinion, as well as others also, hierarchy is more true for prioritizing expenses than it is for human motivation, because all those needs should be satisfied in a certain order, in reality, people are motivated by different things, and their drives rearrange the Hierarchy in an order more consistent with their personalities. I some people are strongly motivated to self actualize, others are not. This is why some people are happy working for others while others prefer to work for themselves. This is why some musicians become professional musicians and other musicians become liars, politicians, etc. (cont.)

Maslow’s hierarchy serves as a guide to prioritizing satisfaction of needs. To the extent those needs are met, an individual experiences emotional well-being. In practice, it may not be possible to satisfy those needs in perfect succession. But rather, like the letters of the alphabet arranged in different ways have more or less meaning, the extent to which the whole is in play, the individual is emotionally healthy.

Whether or not a person is able to satisfy these needs in order of the hierarchy, the hierarchy does list these needs in order of priority.

(cont.)

While culture-specific, my personal opinion is that the hierarchy is even more true for expense prioritization and for human psychology, and that by making expenditures in order of priority (the Hierarchy) contributes to healthy human development.

Adjustments Once you get reliable transportation you are going to want to maintain it properly. When you go in for an oil service and tire rotation, the dealer will print out a service plan for you based on the mileage. Review of the service plan will give you a heads up on what to expect at your next visit. At some point in your maintenance schedule, your next visit should include brakes, or tires, or both. Based on this information, make an adjustment to your vehicle maintenance allocation in order to avoid an unexpected large expense.


NEEDS AND WANTS

Like I said in the Introduction, just because a person doesn't know why s/he wants something doesn't mean s/he doesn't need it. The desire to acquire a thing - be it a posession, an experience, knowledge, whatever - is a form of subconscious self-expression. It should not be required to pass the "Need" test.

Self-expression should be encouraged, considered, examined, and given the opportunity to bear fruit. It should not - in fact, cannot - be suppressed or repressed. It will out, eventually, even if in the process it has to destroy whatever confines it. Stifling the self can prompt misguided and ineffective attempts to meet a need (i.e., solve a problem by drinking alcohol, or acting out in other unhealthy or self-defeating ways).

These are just a few things to bear in mind, as we iron out the wrinkles in your financial life. But before we move on, we need to be prepared to answer the question, "What Would Maslow Do?":


THIS PROBABLY NEEDS TO BE MOVED TO LESSON 6

Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs, typically illustrated as a pyramid in which the Biological (survival) needs serve as a foundation for (take precedence over) all other needs, including the need for Safety and Security, which in turn, is a prerequisite to satisfying the need for Love and Acceptance, which in turn provides a foundation for satisfying the Esteem needs, which forms the basis for the need to Self-actualize. the good Doctor had loaned out his thesaurus. What's another word for "to be all that you can be"? How one might better describe the need to realize one's full potential, I know not. Farbeit for me to second-guess Abe.

Nevertheless, he arrived at his theory having researched the motivational drives of a few exceptionally capable people that had a profound influence on him, throughout his life. His findings are published in various papers, books, and lectures, the most accessible of which is, in layman's terms, is perhaps The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, published toward the end of his life, and which benefits, I think, from clarification in his own mind of what he meant by the need to "Self-actualize".

Be that as it may, I leaned heavily on Maslow to prioritize items on the Comprehensive Index of Expenses in Appendix.


CURRENT ASSESSMENT AS A MOVING OBJECT

If the BOTTOM LINE on the SUMMARY table is a negative number, adjustments are in order. Which expenses to adjust - and for how much - is a simple matter if we ask ourselves, "What Would Maslow Do?"

As luck would have it though, Maslow's terminology does not translate easily into the language of finance. One cannot, for example, "purchase" need satisfaction, although there is a clear connection. If it is true, as Maslow believes, that species strive to thrive, then whatever is essential to healthy human development should evoke a feeling of satisfaction (like when an infant shivers after urinating?).

Without Maslow' research to guide us, we might choose unhealthy, or even self-destructive attempts to satisfy "need" that involve expenditures in pursuit of exhilirating short-term effects, but devastating long-term ones: profligate spending, euphoria-inducing substances or activities, and so on. By restricting ourselves to satisfying needs consistent with healthy human development (Maslow's Hierarchy), we can't go wrong.

In endeavoring to translate Maslow's pyramid, I have settled on three levels, with "Essentials" being the foundation, "Reqisites" serving as the second tier, and "Non-essentials" forming the peak. Though least in terms of priority, Non-essentials would include those "peak experiences" to which Maslow refers; wonderous events that constitute the spice of life, but are short-live if not anchored atop a solid foundation.


WHAT WOULD MASLOW DO?

Should you find you are living beyond your means, you'll need to revise your spending plan - reduce or eliminate allotments. This is where the P-Val table comes in handy.

When it is necessary to trim the budget, changes to items of lower priority will have little or no effect on your quality of life.






WHAT WOULD MASLOW DO?

Should you find you are living beyond your means, you'll need to revise your spending plan - reduce or eliminate allotments. This is where the P-Val table comes in handy.

When it is necessary to trim the budget, changes to items of lower priority will have little or no effect on your quality of life.


More often than not a current assessment will disclose that we are living beyond our means. There are only two ways to remedy that situation: increase income, or decrease expenses. Few people are in a position to increase income at will. But most have complete control over what they spend.


ADJUSTMENTS

When it is necessary to reduce expenses in order live within your means, addressing items of lower priority first minimizes any adverse effect on your quality of life.

Too often, advisors tell their readers to make a distinction between "needs" and "wants", and then don't provide any means whatsoever for doing so. One can only guess why.

What if a "want" is a natural inclination seeking fuller expression? I can tell you from experience that some things are worthy of pursuit precisely because one never knows where they might lead. An unimaginable opportunity, perhaps? A calling? Do we really need to ignore desires simply because they don't pass the "need" test? Mightn't the better approach be not to make a distinction between needs and wants? But rather, just prioritize!?


WHAT WOULD MASLOW DO?

You might remember Abraham Maslow from your high school psychology class. He was the guy sitting closest to the door. Am I being fecitious? Of course.

Abraham Maslow, as everyone knows, invented the pyramid. On the fifth day He created Sphinx in His own image. Am I being fecitious? Of course.

Abraham Maslow theorized a hierarchy of human needs which, satisfied in order of priority, lead an individual to realize his or her full potential. Am I being fecitious? Not on your life. He labelled these needs and arranged them in a hierarchy, like levels of a pyramid, with the highest priority needs - the Physiological Needs (survival) and Safety & Security Needs (protection) - providing the foundation on which satisfaction of higher level needs - the need for Love & Affection (Level 3) and the Esteem Needs (Level 4) - rely for integrity and stability.

The fifth and highest level, which Maslow describes as the need to "Self-actualize", is the need to become one's best self (caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly). If it seems counter-intuitive that your lowest priority need is to "be all that you can be", picture yourself writing poetry while being eaten by an alligator.

Maslow's theory is explained more fully in an appendix, but there are two more aspects worthy of mention here. The first is that at any given moment there is a pre-eminent need, and the second is that if satisfaction of a previously met need is withdrawn, it resumes its position of primary importance (oxygen while clam diving).

Now, Maslow's terminology doesn't translate easily to the language of finance. For example, you can't buy health, safety, love, prestige, or realization of your potential. But by tending to things that promote healthy human growth, and satisfying your needs in order of priority (Maslow's Hierarchy), you can in fact spend your way from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. If you target your pre-eminent need with each expenditure, you won't waste even one cent of your hard-earned money. This is the very essence of the biggest bang for the buck.


PRIORITIZE

I have come to see expenditures as either essential, nonessential, or requisite, with Essentials defined as "that which is necessary", Nonessentials as "that which is not", and Requisites as that which is necessary only by virtue of association (with an Essential). Let me give you an example.

I've gotten a job. Now I need a way to get there and back. I could hitch a ride, or have a co-worker pick me up, or rely on public transportation. But I don't want to risk missing work - especially through no fault of my own. Plus, I'm tired of walking to the grocery store. So, I decide to bite the bullet and part with some of that hard-earned money.

I satisfy my need for reliable transportation, something I deemed Essential, by purchasing a car. But now I need plates. And insurance. And, no doubt, there will be maintenance costs; gas, service, repairs - Requisites; had I not bought the car, I wouldn't "need" them. The pin-striping and 20-inch rims are, of course, Nonessentials.


STRINGFELLOW'S THEORY OF RELATIVE HUMIDITY

To help you identify items for adjustment, I have assigned to each CIE entry, a value (P-Val). P-Val is a hybrid of Maslow's Hierarchy (the digit to the left of the decimal) and a ranking of my own design (the two digits to the right of the decimal), whereby .01 to .39 indicates satisfaction of human needs, .41 to .59 satisfaction accruing to the benefit of animals and plants, and .61 to .99 for care and preservation of inanimate objects. Following Maslow's convention, the higher the priority, the lower the number.





P-VAL EXPLAINED

The digit to the left of the decimal coincides with Maslow's Hierarchy (about which you may find out more in Appendix A, or by checking out The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, by Abraham Maslow, available at most local libraries). The two digits to the right of the decimal rate humans of greater importance than animals and plants, with inanimate objects coming in last.


HOW TO USE IT

As you may have noticed, the P-Val table lists Maslow's five levels of need: Biological, Safety & Security, Love and Belongingness, Esteem, and Self-actualization. Within each level are listed expenditures that correspond to the satisfaction of those needs.





Allocation

The Allocation sheet could be refreshed with a macro that calculates accumulated funds

Because a particular expense ranks higher in priority does not necessarily mean more money should be spent on it. Rather, it should be accounted for in some fashion before items of lower priority.

Spending can be deliberate or haphazard (unchecked). For all but the wealthy class, deliberate spending is the only way to gain your independence.

The following exercise will help to clarify your role.




Please proceed to the next EXCALINDUR




Before you take on a new expense, add that expense item to your spending plan, make adjustments to see whether you can accommodate the additional expense. If you find out you can afford it, assign the expense its own sub account and begin allocating funds accordingly.



"Some of what we believe about ourselves is not true"