Savings: restating the obvious

I guess people can never see it coming, to the point that CNBC felt it necessary to remind seniors to avoid overspending:

Some advisors are comfortable with the tough-cop approach, but others prefer a different tack entirely.
“If you understand the basics of behavioral finance, you know that 95 percent of the decisions you make with your money are made subconsciously and emotionally,” said John Buerger of Altus Wealth Solutions. “We are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain.”

To change behavior, Buerger focuses on hijacking that pleasure-seeking/pain-avoidance system. Instead of stressing budgeting—something most clients equate with, say, a trip to the dentist—he zeros in on their current behaviors.

Using tracking software, Buerger asks clients to look at what they spent in the last 24 to 36 hours. It’s a period of time that’s recent enough, but not in the moment.

“Most people in the first few months see that 3 percent to 5 percent of their income is actually going out to pay for stuff that doesn’t matter to them,” Buerger explained.

Then Buerger can have “the conversation.” It starts with: “Would you like to figure out where that money is going so that you can start spending it on stuff that matters to you?” he said.

The next sentence tells us a lot: “Similarly, Jeffrey West of Financial Compass Group no longer talks to clients about their risk of outliving their money. In fact, he doesn’t use the word “retirement” at all.”

There is a name for this: shortfall risk. Take it seriously, because according to Bloomberg, Japanese Households Without Savings Climb to Highest Since ’63. This will not end well.