Last week on our net worth update post, a good blogger friend of mine, Joe @ Retire By 40, pointed out the fact that sometimes it’s easier to look at the percentage of a drop in money vs the stone cold dollar amounts. Since a 1% drop is a lot less scarier than, say, a $5,000 loss. (Or in my case last month, an $11,000 loss). And I pretty much agree with that.
On the flip side though, the same can be said for INCREASES. It’s much sexier to see a $5,000 increase in cash than a measly 1% bump – at least when it comes to me. So if you’re averse to feeling the stress or sting of a situation, you’d need to flip flop the way you perceive situations.
Personally, I prefer to see the cold hard dollar amounts every single time with both the good and the bad. I NEED that solid punch in the gut (or emotional high-five!) every time I see an update as it keeps me *motivated*. Whether with my net worth, paying my taxes, or even following our debts. The numbers don’t have a filter – they tell you how it is. There’s no softening a $100,000 loss or gain like it would be by changing it to a %. $100,000 is a $100,000 either way you look at it! For both the good and bad.
After commenting back to my ol’ friend Joe about this (albeit a lot more condensed), I started thinking about the other stuff I prefer to see these hard numbers on too over a percentage. Is it only in regards to my finances? Does it differ if the situation’s not pertaining to me specifically? What are the other areas in life are we confronted with actual numbers vs %’s?
These are the things that go through my mind on a typical day :) I thought long and hard about it (TWSS!), and this is what I came up with…
The areas I’d rather see the cold numbers than %’s:
- My net Worth (obv)
- Taxes (nothing makes you appreciate the amount you pay in taxes like mailing the IRS a physical check yourself! One of the shockers of learning to be self-employed…)
- Paychecks ($2,000 check vs. 4.17% of your salary. Hah!)
- Amount saved at the grocery store (“You saved $15.35 today!” vs.”You saved 19%!”)
- And pretty much anything else relating to my personal finances.
And these, for whatever reason, are the instances I’d prefer seeing %’s:
- Sales signs! ($50% off today!)
- Amount of goal completion
- Amount of something being downloaded
- Pie charts. You can never go wrong with pie charts.
It’s an interesting exercise to try if you have the time one day. Or when you’re just plain bored at work – like perhaps right now as you’re reading this? ;) We’re used to dealing with percentages and hard numbers every single day of our lives, but to consciously think about which we prefer more, and why (and in which situations?) is kinda neat to do. Tells you a little more about yourself and how you like to cope with different situations.
If you had to guess, which route do YOU prefer when dealing with money? The cold hard dollar amounts, or the tinier, softer, % marks? Or are you just a hustler and not phased in either event? ;)
[Photo by James Cridland / Tweaked by J$]