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Resolved - No More Resolutions: Financial Advisors' Daily Digest

Dec. 27, 2017 11:30 AM ET8 Comments
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SA For FAs


  • Most people’s resolutions fail, but there’s a simple alternative that can succeed.
  • Eric Basmajian: The consumer is maxed out.
  • Franklin Templeton Investments on growing economies and fading stimulus.

By Gil Weinreich

Consumers set new records for dollars spent this holiday season, according to Mastercard Spending Pulse, which tracks this data. That means America didn’t take my advice on giving the gift of financial responsibility, by paying down a student loan instead of giving an iPhone, for example.

Not one to give up easily, I’ll now try this interventionist advice prior to all those new year’s resolutions that will invariably fail: Don’t make a bold plan that will crater amidst a myriad of rationales. Instead, adopt a small, habitual behavior.

New year’s resolutions are known to be by and large a flop—with research indicating something like an 88% - or higher - failure rate. Those are lousy odds.

An interesting psychological study I came across suggests an interesting explanation. The experimenters asked a group to solve very difficult problems requiring tremendous persistence. One segment of the group was permitted to eat chocolate chip cookies prior to the task, whereas another group was asked to eat radishes. The two groups were aware of each other. A third group had no conditions imposed.

So, was it the fit consumers of veggies that performed best or the cookie monsters? Or the uncontrolled group? The uncontrolled folks persisted admirably, lasting about 21 minutes, as did the cookie eaters, enduring for about 19 minutes. But the radish eaters gave up after about 8.5 minutes and made far fewer attempts to complete the task. Here’s a revealing quote from the study that will help you understand why:

In particular, none of the participants in the radish condition violated the rule against eating chocolates. Several of them did exhibit clear interest in the chocolates, to the point of looking longingly at the chocolate display and in a few cases even picking up the cookies to sniff at them. But no

This article was written by

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GIL WEINREICH - Author of "The Mentor," a unique parable for financial advisors and those who aspire to become one. I have worked in the FA arena since 1997, and during that time, the New York State Society of CPAs twice awarded its prestigious Excellence in Financial Journalism award to me for a monthly column I wrote on business ethics. Previously, I reported on international news for Voice of America (where I was awarded a newsroom writing award) and prior to that worked as an editorial assistant at U.S. News and World Report. I live with my wife and children amidst the verdant and vibrant hills and dales of Jerusalem.

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