Living in an addicting society

Apr 24, 2017 | Tony Byrne's View

The more I have observed people over the years the more convinced I am that human beings are hopelessly addictive beings. I call it the addictive society.

When I talk about addiction I don’t just mean the obvious hard addictions of drugs, alcohol and nicotine but many other addictions that afflict us in society such as the excessive consumption of fat, sugar, salt and caffeine; the over use of mobile devices, computer gaming, social media and television as well as so called retail therapy, slavish adherence to fashion etc. The list is endless.

Now I know that most people won’t consider many of these less obvious habits as addictions, but virtually anything you are obsessed with is, in my opinion, an addiction. By the way I’m not saying that we shouldn’t possess these habits at all, to some extent all of us are addicts in one form or another. One person I discussed it with recently described it as simply people being creatures of habit. To an extent I am inclined to agree with that observation however not wholly. Let me explain why.

Businesses in particular know that we are hopelessly addictive beings. They employ very clever tactics to get us addicted in the first place and then to keep us addicted. Let’s face it, it’s in their best interests financially to do so. Let me give you one example; Sugar. We have a major obesity crisis in the UK. In my view one of the major causes is processed food and in particular additives such as fat, salt and sugar. Most people in my experience have a sweet tooth. I am one of those people. Most of us struggle to fight the taste of sweet food because we like it so much. The problem is that we not only have an obesity crisis in the UK today but also a diabetes crisis. Obesity is now the third largest cause of death in the UK. That is extremely serious.

I really supported Jamie Oliver’s recent proposal for a sugar tax. Unfortunately the food industry is such a powerful lobbying group that the government didn’t implement Jamie Oliver’s proposals. That’s a crying shame and, in the long run, a disaster for the health of the UK population.

There are of course more positive addictions in society such as love, exercise, yoga, meditation, book reading, healthy diet etc. Whilst it takes more self-discipline to adopt and stick to these, shall we say more positive addictions, the longer term benefits to society as a whole cannot be underestimated nor doubted.

Over my business lifetime I have noticed that our more financially successful clients have formed the habit, addiction even, of being very well disciplined in all things money-related. They spend less than they earn, they save, they make their money sweat, and importantly they do not waste money. In a small minority of cases they can become a little over-obsessed with building their wealth to the extent that they do not enjoy life enough in the present. I like to encourage such clients to let go a bit and become more relaxed about spending money especially when our lifetime cash flow planning shows them that they will never run out of money. Let’s face it, none of us can take the money with us when we die!

Interestingly I find that on the whole the very same people who are disciplined about money tend to be disciplined about all other aspects of their lives too. That tells you something doesn’t it? In my experience these very same people experience very long, happy, fulfilled and, on the whole, healthy retirements.

So if you, your friends, relatives and colleagues do not already have a positive addiction to sound financial management or you want to improve your current financial position, do get in touch with us. We would love to help you and the people you know to have not only a brighter financial future but a healthier and happier one too.

 

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