Do you make good money, but can’t seem to save? Does your net worth not reflect your income? You might have Present Bias? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should.  Overcoming present bias helps you think like a millionaire.

Present Bias

According to American Economics Review article by O’Donoghue, T., and Rabin, M entitled Doing it now or later (1999) Present Bias:

refers to the tendency of people to give stronger weight to payoffs that are closer to the present time when considering trade-offs between two future moments. The concept of present bias is often used more generally to describe impatience or immediate gratification in decision-making.

What Causes Present Bias?

Behavioral Economist Sarah Newcomb says that present bias is caused by not picturing mental tradeoffs well. We tend to have a larger, more clear picture of things that are happening right now. We discount and shrink things that happen far off in the future. (Source)

How to Fix it?

In order to overcome present bias and think like a millionaire, you need to have a better picture of your goals, see your future clearly. One way to do this is with vision boards.

Vision Boards

A quick google search for vision boards leads to very success names like Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and, all describing how to craft a vision board that works. The basic idea I used years ago in a workshop was cutting out pictures from a magazine that represents what you’re looking to accomplish and pasting in a collage. Then you re-mind yourself of your goals daily by putting the board somewhere you’ll see it every day. This reinforces the goals via vivid pictures and makes these visions compete better with present gratification spending.

Of course, vision boards only work if the pictures reverse your present bias. 

If you’re more analytical and less visual, you may also want an analysis showing you the numbers. A good financial plan will show you where you are now, and the steps needed to get to where you want to be. This is like the science of money whereas the vision board is more an art. Together, you’ll get the art and science of thinking like a millionaire.


If you make decent money, but can’t seem to save any of it, you may have a present bias. If your net worth doesn’t reflect your lifestyle, you might have a present bias. Once you’re aware of your present bias, you can change your thinking with vision boards or financial plans that get you thinking like a millionaire.

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Rich Feight, CFP
Rich Feight, CFP

Hi, I'm Rich Feight I'm a fee-only Certified Financial Planner, successful business owner, and self-made millionaire that knows how to beat the system and become wealthy. I have a lot of clients that have done it too. I'm also pretty good at finding that ever-elusive work/life balance so many of us strive for. Lucky for you I have an abundant mindset and give all my knowledge away on my blog. So if you want to know what it takes to become a millionaire, follow me.