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Selective Financial Perception

in Debts

When I was a kid I really loved visiting the Granby Zoo, but I always hated going into the Simian Pavilion, because the smell was awful. You walked in there and the smell was wretched but after a while you got used to it, and in my mind that meant the smell had gone away. If I’d look closely I would have seen from the looks on the faces of folks entering the smell was still there, I had just learned to live with it.

When I grew up I learned in Psych 101 about the idea of Selective Perception, where you just decide to ignore something even though it has not actually gone away. An excellent example when I became a parent I thing I gagged the first time I changed one of my daughter’s diapers, but after a while explosive diarrhea didn’t even bother me (i.e. all the way up her back).

Before I bought my first house, I was petrified at how much money a Mortgage was, and how was I ever going to deal with this massive debt? These days, I just look at it, shrug my shoulders and wonder when I became so callous about that large a sum of money? When I was a kid $10 is like $1000 is to me now.

All that debt just piles up doesn't it?
All that debt just piles up doesn’t it?

All of this to say that part of the problem with Debt is we start getting Selective Financial Perception in many areas.

  • I’ve already spoken about House Mortgage, but that is a monstrous number (hopefully the largest debt you ever carry). Hopefully you didn’t make yourself House Poor.
  • Car Loans are the same thing, paying off a car loan should be a high priority (if you borrowed to buy the vehicle), as the asset is losing value every day, but you get used to it. What’s that you say? You only lease cars? So you just keep paying for cars, every month, and it’s just another thing that you end up forgetting about?
  • Credit Card debt I suspect is the same thing. The first month you are upset that you didn’t have enough money to pay it off, but eventually, you just become resigned that you must pay this, and you don’t think about it any more, and just make the monthly payments.

Just because you can’t smell the Zoo of your debts, doesn’t mean you are not still standing in the middle of the Simian House. Did I miss any other debts that just disappear into your Financial Perception?


  • Denis June 5, 2014, 8:50 AM

    Marketplace did a show on vet prices and the differences between one vet and another, and the tests and shots that are unneeded/only needed every few years. It was unbelievable how much of a difference there was.

    Only ever had one vet bill and I am sure she was happy to see me go! My bird, a cockatiel hen was thought to be eggbound, and well, when lightly squeezed as the bird was trying to wiggle out of the vet’s hand, the bird pooped. She had not pooed in a couple of days, and that was the vilest thing I had ever smelled in my life. Most of that poop went on the vet! So ya the vet was happy to see me go! lol Eventually I became allergic to the pet dander, and I had to give up my birds. Was sad to see them go to someone else…

    • bigcajunman June 5, 2014, 9:21 AM

      Constipated Cockatiel? Why does that sound like a great Title for a post!!! 🙂

  • Bet Crooks June 3, 2014, 4:02 PM

    Although not debts per se, I’ve noticed we don’t pay much attention anymore to our property taxes or our insurance (car, home) premiums. They’re on auto-debit so it’s easy to forget how much our prop tax has increased and how little our auto insurance has decreased.

    I think that may be why so many of us end up keeping cable/satellite/cell phone service even though the rate creeps up steadily till like a Fundy tide it overwhelms us: we have it autopaying somehow and forget to add up the annual bill.

    • bigcajunman June 3, 2014, 4:53 PM

      Agreed on the cable, I did a list of monthly bills and what I paid, and I almost vomitted on how much is SPENT before I can even think every month.

  • Phil June 3, 2014, 11:50 AM

    I think you hit the majority of them there… There aren’t many, but they do add up quickly. It is interesting this thought of selective financial perception… I look back and try and figure out when and how my money savvy morphed. $10 as a kid was awesome, but now $1000 just comes and goes… had a bill for a dog surgery the other day that ran us $2,500, and it will just get lost in the monthly spend… The issue I am dealing with is trying to understand how I’m going to teach my son about financial savvy now that everything basically transferred using a piece of plastic. I mean when I was a kid nickels and dimes were added together to get movie tickets. Now we just swipe a plastic card… how does value get translated now? groceries say $85, swipe card… trip to Hawaii, $6,000 swipe card… hell, car insurance, automatic renewal to card, $1,200… So it is understandable I guess why most have no concept of value, and hence no understanding of the impact of debt… – Cheers, and yet another great post to get my brain going.

    • bigcajunman June 3, 2014, 2:49 PM

      $2500 for a Dog?!? I love dogs, but WOW! Evidently in Ottawa you can get cheaper Vet services if you drive to New York State (Ogdensburg), I am paying over $2000 for car insurance (two cars and a young driver), that is 1/12 of the gross income I made when I first started working… yeeshh…

      • Phil June 3, 2014, 8:32 PM

        The dog is cute and fuzzy and puts up with my cursive language all day, so she kinda deserves the pampering over the burlap bag solution ;). As to vet services south of us (I’m Kemptville), I know some history on some of those guys and they work by different rules than my locale vet, so… Well it wasn’t an option… But if the work would have been done by AltaVista in Ottawa, it would have been a 1/3rd more. – Cheers.

        • bigcajunman June 3, 2014, 8:38 PM

          Wow! Seems like vets can’t make a lot of money on Horses and Cows any more, so their “sweet spot” is Cats and Dogs. Every vet I have spoken to likes to “up sell” food and procedures.

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