Here we are in the middle of 2016, and technology has never been at a greater height, nor has it ever been used in the manner it is being used for.
To my mind the greatest use of technology these days is our mobile phones. They are little computers and do everything.
Our mobiles make phone calls, you can text someone, hold video calls, take photos and videos, send someone those photos and videos, watch TV or a film, they can be used as a torch/flash light, play games, surf the web, and with the numerous applications available, they can do just about everything.
You can even access your bank account and with some mobiles, even make payments at stores and shops.
Between these forms of payment options, and each bank having an application to access your bank account, you can transfer money, make payments, send money, in essence handle all your personal financial business, just with a mobile phone.
Technology is grand.
However, all the technology in the world will not stop you from overspending, or getting into debt, or finding yourself insolvent…..or will it??
While I have been writing about and advising people on their personal finances for almost 30 years, my education and degrees are in psychology and sociology.
Sort of a mini-Stanley Milgram, as I like to fancy myself. I am far from Dr. Milgram’s studies and intellect, but it has been a fascinating blend of psychology and personal financial matters I have experienced over the years.
There is a whole psychology of spending, and why we spend money, and why we find ourselves in financial predicaments. That is a topic way too complex to cover here, in itself there can be volumes of books written.
There is psychology behind advertising and product placement, and why we buy as we do.
And of course there is technology used in conjunction with psychology, as to why we may buy certain items and spend as we do.
The Internet and online shopping being one of the largest uses of technology, online retailing. And it is not limited to clothing and other personal items. Online food shopping has increased, and so has online white goods sales.
If you look at what we have previously said about technology, using our mobiles to pay bills, buy things, check bank accounts, technology figures into the psychology of spending and buying, as it has changed how we can and do spend money and buy things.
But can technology, combined with some principles of psychology, effect a change on our spending habits as to keep us out of debt, and away from being insolvent??
Aversion therapy “is a form of psychological treatment in which the patient is exposed to a stimulus while simultaneously being subjected to some form of discomfort. This conditioning is intended to cause the patient to associate the stimulus with unpleasant sensations in order to stop the specific behaviour.”
Aversion therapy seems at times harsh, and not just in its wording, but how it can be used. It can be used in the treatment of drug addictions, obsessions, and even violent behaviours.
The Stanley Kubrick film “A Clockwork Orange”, explores this form of therapy in detail. And not just in a clinical way, but also using film to entertain about a not nice subject, violent crime and antisocial behaviours.
The film also points out one of the flaws of this form of behaviour modification, and how there can be “side” associations that were not intended in the original experiments.
This begs the question, can aversion therapy in some form be used to stop someone from spending too much money, or blowing their household budget??
And no I am not writing about looking at your bank statement or credit card statement and getting a shock, I am writing about a real physical electric shock if you spend money.
A company here in the UK, Intelligent Environments, has combined a form of aversion therapy and linked it to help people not spend too much.
A device called a Pavlok, which is a wrist band users wear, can be linked to a bank account, and also can deliver a shock of 255 volts.
The way the device works is that once linked to a bank account, and a set amount of money is programmed in, should the bank account fall below the set amount the user will receive a shock. I am assuming the shock is to aid the user in avoiding spending more money.
David Webber who is the Chief Executive of Intelligent Environments said, “This is about reacting to changes in your financial well-being.”
“Willpower is great if you’ve got it – not everybody has.”
The company has also devised a new form of “smart meter” people can use in saving money in heating their homes.
The smart meter is an application that is connected to your home heating system. Should you begin to use too much heat, or spend more than a set amount of heating your home, the application reduces or turns down the heat in the house to save money.
The application can also turn down the heat if your bank account starts to drop below a set amount as well.
When asked as to if this is not getting a bit “too controlling”, Mr. Webber stated, “If you get home and decide you can afford for it to be warmer you can turn it back up again.”
You have to admit it is an interesting concept and application as a way to not overspend and save money. Of course the opposite end is that you get shocked all the time and live in a cold house.
Mr. Webber adds, “I think the Internet of Things will be as transformational as tablets and smartphones were a number of years ago.”
“I think the interconnectedness of devices is going to transform the way we think and manage whether it’s our cars or the things in our home.”
“Perhaps you could use this sort of platform where, if you’re running short of money your car slips into economy mode, rather than sport mode.”
However, there are concerns over security issues.
A cyber-security expert at Surrey University, Professor Alan Woodward said, “Having a convoluted interaction between systems is almost inevitably going to lead to unintended security flaws.”
“I know this type of technology is developed with the best of intentions but the road to hell is paved with them.”
“Just because you can connect devices en masse doesn’t necessarily mean you should.”
There will always be security issues with any form of application, and Internet usage, especially when your bank account may be involved, as there are always those looking to exploit that technology, and usually for criminal gain.
But as we can see, it is another use of technology, paired with some old fashioned psychological concepts and therapies, to try and keep us on the financial straight and narrow.
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