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Do You Know Where Your Money Goes?

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There’s an experiment called “The Invisible Gorilla,” where people are asked to watch a video of two teams passing a ball to one another. One team is wearing white t-shirts, while the other is wearing black t-shirts. Viewers are asked to focus on the team in white t-shirts and count the number of times the ball is passed. You can attempt the task by watching the famous video here:

How many times did the team in white pass the ball? There’s a more important question: Did you see the gorilla?

It turns out that when folks are asked to focus on the task, they tend to completely ignore the gorilla — the one that waltzes into the middle of the group and beats its chest.

Behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely explains that although we think we see with our eyes, we largely see with our brains, and in turn, we notice less than we think we do.

So, how well do you perceive everything in your life? Have you ever opened your wallet and wondered why there was less money in there than you thought you had, or discovered you had less money in your bank account after checking your balance online? Do you know where your money goes?

Our grandmothers did. That’s because they kept actual dollars in an envelope system — this envelope will pay the rent, this envelope will buy groceries for the week, etc. They knew where every cent was going because there were few cents to go around.

We are spoiled by technology, the Internet and budgeting tools like Mint and Bundle’s own money management tools to let us see how we spend with one quick glance when our brains otherwise blind us from reality. My Bundle account tells me that in August, I’ve already spent $1,500 on rent, $98 on groceries, $272 on travel, and so on. I know what I’ve spent, and I plan future spending accordingly.

I have friends and family who’ve used these same tools, but don’t log in because they’re afraid of what they’ll see. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. There’s another saying: Sometimes reality has a way of sneaking up and biting us in the ass.

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Photo by _wichid_

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