As anyone who has endured financial hardship knows, long-term thinking during such periods feels all but impossible. Researchers have found that stress caused by a lack of financial stability inhibits long-term thinking abilities. Even when you know what the right choice is, you may not have the energy or willpower to act on it.
“Long-term planning is especially elusive in cases of longer-term poverty,” said Laura Cohen, coordinator of The Lord’s Cupboard of Jefferson County, a food pantry in Fairfield. “A person living in poverty will typically spend so much time working just to stay alive—working toward the next meal, the next round of food stamps, the next paycheck, the next place to stay—that he is literally unable to devote any time to long-term planning. Living this way, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘rewarding’ oneself with a new item for the home, a new piece of clothing, a TV upgrade, rather than socking away money toward the future.”
While they don’t help people stay on budget, these “rewards” may offer small respite in an otherwise stressful life.