Money

Finding It Hard To Make A Decision Could Be Saving You Money

I’m awful at making decisions. Truly. Don’t ask me what I want for dinner, or what movie I’d like to see or what brand of cheese I prefer, because it will only end in your own frustration. I um and ah and stress until my brain turns blank. Once, I dragged my friends around Lisbon for an hour and a half looking for a restaurant that didn’t give me “touristy vibes”. And in my exhausting search for perfection, my friends ended up stepping in and demanding we eat at the next place we saw. It was, just as I feared, a disappointing meal.

But of course, all of this is fine, because I know I’m not alone. I can’t tell you how many memes, articles, listicles and statuses I’ve seen that reflect this same predicament. “I am 100 per cent certain that I am zero per cent sure of what I want to do,” said Rob Lowe’s character in Parks and Recreation. Me and about one million others collectively rose up and said, “Mate, same.”

Part of it’s because we live in a society built on an entrenched consumerism that gives us an endless, incomprehensible amount of things to choose from. It’s called the paradox of choice, the well-documented phenomenon that says humans would rather pick no jam at all than pick from a wall of options. Too much choice means we’ll choose nothing. And I get it.

Previous studies have also found that in a situation of paralysing choice, like my stint in Lisbon, people will always be more disappointed with whatever decision they end up making because they’ll be lamenting the ones they didn’t. It found that people who make quick decisions and stick with them are happier people over all. They’re called ‘satisficers’, and I hate them.

But now, The Science of Us has told us all about a brand new study that provides a bit of good news to anyone that agonises over decisions. Turns out, your fretting could be saving you lots of moolah.

In a recent paper published in the Journal of Individual Differences, researchers found that those who find it hard to make decisions – known as ‘maximisers’ — are usually concerned with what impact the choice will have on their future, and therefore, are better off in the long run. Essentially, the study showed that future-oriented people take less risks but it leaves them with more money and higher academic scores.

So why are decisions so hard in the first place? The study wrote, “When setting the standards for their decisions, maximisers are more likely to consider the future because their current decisions have to meet their higher present and future standards.”

It makes sense. Future-oriented people are better savers because not only do they have high standards, they’re always thinking of what will happen next, preparing for things to come. They realise their current decision (whether futile or not) will somehow impact them down the road.

Unfortunately, the study also said that maximisers weren’t happier than their content satificer counterparts and really, I’m not surprised. Any person who has a near nervous breakdown in the chocolate aisle (me) isn’t exactly well-adjusted. But hey, at least I saved $3.50.

Lead author of the study, Xiaoyuan Zhu says, “It pays to hold out for the best decision option.” Quite literally, it pays off. And that’s all the validation I’ll ever need. Excuse me while I subtweet my friends, boyfriend, everyone I’ve ever known. Holla!


Josephine is a writer from western Sydney who likes to blatantly lie on her bios. She played the youngest sister in 80s sitcom Family Ties and looks fantastic running with a backpack on.

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