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Behavioral Economics Guidance for Major Lifestyle Choices




When assessing home affordability, bankers employ standard thresholds for debt-to-income levels along with rules of thumb around total mortgage sizing:

  • Mortgage payment of 25% of gross monthly income - Keeping housing costs below this ceiling ensures room for other expenses

  • Loan balance 3 times income - Financing no more than thrice annual earnings appropriately size mortgage burdens

  • 20% downpayment - Supplying at least a 20% down payment avoids burdensome mortgage insurance requirements


Of course, ideal mortgage borrowing levels remain household-specific based on lifestyle costs, existing obligations, and risk appetite. Those metrics constitute starting points for analysis more so than rigid cutoffs. Comparing current rent payments against hypothetical mortgage costs also adds helpful framing.


Homebuying - Counteracting Biases by Broadening Perspective


Purchasing property constitutes most peoples' largest financial transaction in life. Outsize complexity is inherent to the process. This breeds narrow framing as individuals hyper-focus on granular details. Lost amongst the weeds, they fail to align choices against overarching lifestyle objectives.

Present bias also manifests by fixating on the exhilaration of homeownership while dismissing long-term burdens. Painting an experiential picture of financial trade-offs helps correct myopia. Visualizing specifics like the strain of mortgage payments or savings lag clarifies reality.

Seeking outside opinions further expands perspective and ensures affordability aligns with risk tolerance. Benchmarking monthly ownership costs against rent oft reveals striking savings gaps. This injection of objective logic helps individuals transcend fears of missing out tied to property purchases.


Hidden Homebuying Costs Beyond the Mortgage

  • Taxes & insurance - Often overlooked, these costs add 25%+ to mortgage payments

  • Maintenance - Owning multiplies incidental costs for appliances, repairs, landscaping

  • Lost investment gains - Down payments and added costs curb investable savings

  • Closing costs - Loan origination, title insurance, and more total 2% - 5% of property value


Running "what if" scenarios that tabulate all ownership costs often exposes the shortcomings of cursory affordability assumptions. This clear tally reorients decisions grounded in fear of missing out rather than holistic assessments.


Critical Pre-Purchase Questions

Asking probing questions forces a broader reflection on tradeoffs beyond excitement for a specific property. It brings big-picture lifestyle objectives and risk tolerance back into the equation after tunnel vision takes over.


Definitive Choice App - Streamlining Financial Decisions Through Smart Design


Key App Features


  • Add your decision criteria - You can add decision criteria from our decision templates or add your own. By using our pairwise comparison process, you will be able to determine the relative importance of your decision criteria accurately.

  • Prioritize your decision criteria - By comparing two criteria to each other, for each unique pair, we will accurately calculate the weighting factors (%) for your criteria.

  • Evaluate your alternatives based on your decision criteria - Select alternatives from our decision template or add your own. Definitive Choice® will assist you in evaluating each alternative against each criterion to determine the highest-scoring alternative.

  • Decision team input - Tap into the brainpower of your network by inviting your trusted advisors to participate in your decisions. By including the perspectives of others, you will remove ``blind spots`` and make a better decision.

  • Increase your confidence by building consensus - The people you invite to participate in your decision do not need a subscription to Definitive Choice®.


The Definitive Choice mobile application tackles key pain points around financial decision-making with an emphasis on behavioral vulnerabilities. Its ensemble of budgeting, investing, banking, and credit tools simplifies money management through consolidation and automation.


Smart design prompts guide users to save incrementally toward goals. The app counters limited attention by highlighting overlooked subscriptions and budget excess slated for cost savings. Custom alerts make steady investing habitual while preventing overreactions to market shifts.


Definitive Choice further optimizes credit card usage by matching users with ideal cards given spending habits. You can see a list of typical personal finance decisions that the Definitive Choice app can help with in the roadmap below. Check out the app for a list of more than 50 templates!



It alerts consumers to unused card benefits and nudges bill payments to prevent fees. Users can also run cost-benefit analyses on large purchases that compare short-term satisfaction against trade-offs like reduced savings.


By blending financial aggregation, automation, and decision architecture, Definitive Choice empowers superior money choices. The app comes free with the purchase of the book, “Making Choices, Making Money.” Download today to streamline your personal finance journey.


"Making Choice, Making Money" Book - A Behavioral Economics Guide to Personal Finance


The book Making Choices, Making Money by esteemed behavioral economist Jeff Hulett delivers an insightful melding of financial literacy and decision-making psychology. It introduces a repeatable choice process to drive wealth creation and optimize money management.


The author translates concepts like narrow framing and present bias into accessible stories and examples that resonate with a broad audience. Readers walk away with an enriched understanding of their cognitive vulnerabilities that sap financial optimization.


But Making Choice, Making Money moves beyond exploration by furnishing readers with tools to counteract biases. Tailored step-by-step guides improve decision quality across budgeting, debt management, investments, and large purchases. Establishing this consistent process leads to the enhanced choices essential to smart personal finance.


As the principles of behavioral economics continue permeating popular consciousness, Making Choices, Making Money constitutes a timely resource. The book holds valuable lessons for individuals struggling to plot a prosperous financial course. It further serves as an indispensable educational asset for those teaching financial literacy skills to the next generation.


Behavioral Economics and Financial Futures Through Smarter Decision-Making


By acknowledging the cognitive limitations that subvert ideal financial choices, behavioral economics illuminates a path toward enhanced money management. Subtle structural changes in areas like budgeting, debt usage, and investments counteract vulnerabilities that sabotage our fiscal potential.


Want to transform your financial decision-making today? You can do that by downloading the Definitive Choice app, your gateway to smarter spending, saving, and investing, included free with the purchase of 'Making Choices, Making Money'.”


Tools like NinjaCard, Definitive Choice and Making Choice, Making Money operationalize these insights into convenient platforms. They open the door to simplified personal finance journeys by infusing smart design elements and choice architecture guardrails.


The capacity to continually learn and implement small improvements distinguishes financial winners. Behavioral economics intersects with this growth mindset by revealing bias and lighting the way to increasingly optimized decisions over time. Through this lens, minor tweaks transform into wealth accelerants that compound the effects of smart money management.

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