MENTAL ACCOUNTING: What is it?

By Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA CMP®

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SPONSOR: http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanning.org

DEFINITION: Mental accounting attempts to describe the process whereby people code, categorize and evaluate economic outcomes. The concept was first named by Richard Thaler. Mental accounting deals with the budgeting and categorization of expenditures. People budget money into mental accounts for expenses or expense categories

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

Mental Accounting is the act of bucketizing investments and then reviewing the performance of the individual buckets separately (e.g. investing at low savings rate while paying high credit card interest rates).

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Mental Accounting • Money is

Examples of mental accounting are: (1) matching costs to benefits (wanting to pay for vacation before taking it and getting paid for work after it was done, even though from perspective of time value of money the opposite should be preferred0, (2) aversion to debt (don’t like long-term debt for short-term benefit), (3) sunk-cost effect (illogically considering non-recoverable costs when making forward-going decisions).

In investing, treating buckets separately and ignoring interaction (correlations) induces people not to sell losers (even though they get tax benefits), prevent them from investing in the stock market because it is too risky in isolation (however much less so when looked at as part of the complete portfolio including other asset classes and labor income and occupied real estate), thus they “do not maximize the return for a given level of risk taken).

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