How to lower your discount rate

Mark Broski, a loyal MR reader, asks:

If you woke up one morning and said to yourself, "You know what my problem is? My damn discount rate is too high."  What would you do, if anything, to lower it?

Maybe Mark should lower his discount rate later, not now, thus solving the problem right away. 

Alternatively, you can view lack of patience and lack of concern for his future self as conceptually distinct problems.  To cure lack of patience, develop routines for interrupting episodes of irresponsible present-oriented behavior.  Ring up each purchase at a separate store register, or write a journal entry before each cookie you eat.

When it comes to lack of concern for your future self, whoop de doo.  If you are going to ignore anyone else’s interest, your future self is a good place to start.  This is only a problem if you attach special status to your future self, in which case maybe you are not ignoring its interests, at least not relative to your other moral omissions in life. 

If you need to be more altruistic more generally, precommit to developing personal ties to those you wish to help.  As for your future self, start adopting some old people’s habits now, to build the tie between the 2007 you and the 2027 you.

Do you all have any other advice for Mark?


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