Big-Picture Thinking Leads to the Right Money Mindset

Big-Picture thinking may improve Americans’ financial decision making, mitigate effects of stress according to new study

Professional football player and financial literacy instructor Brandon Copeland joins Capital One to share simple ways to tackle the effects of stress for a smarter money mindset.

MCLEAN, Va. and MONTREAL, QC (January 28, 2020) – Financial decisions are some of the most stressful, complex and impactful choices we make. According to a new study, published today by Capital One and The Decision Lab, 77% of participants reported feeling anxious about their financial situation with 58% feeling that finances control their lives. The good news? A change of perspective can have a positive impact on our financial wellbeing. 

"We partnered with The Decision Lab to uncover ways to reduce the effects of stress on our financial decisions and found that ‘bigger-picture’ thinking about long-term goals for even a few seconds can lead to healthier financial behaviors,” said Andy Navarrete, Executive Vice President and Head of External Affairs at Capital One. "We strive to help our associates, customers and communities succeed—to save them time, money, and to inspire a sense of optimism about the future, every day. The Mind over Money study is just one way we are supporting better financial outcomes for those we serve."

The Impact of Stress on our Minds and Money 

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions of the experiment: an abstract thinking, concrete thinking or control condition and then completed a series of questionnaires aimed at investigating financial attitudes, behaviors, and general and finance-specific stress levels. 

The study found that financial stress caused:                                                           

  • Feelings of fatigue (43%)
  • Difficulty concentrating at work (42%) 
  • Sleep interferences (41%) 

Stress is also linked to worse financial attitudes and practices. Even when controlling for household income and FICO scores, Americans who experience higher level of stress are: 

  • Less likely to save on a regular basis
  • Less likely to plan their spending
  • Less likely to feel in control 
  • More impulsive with how they spend their paycheck 
  • Less likely to agree that success comes to those who work hard

A Playbook of Practical Tips   

Brandon Copeland is partnering with Capital One to offer practical financial rituals to help develop a smarter money mindset. Tips include: 

  • Keep your goals in front of you: We have a tendency to discount better future rewards for short-term gains. To overcome this, try keeping your goals front and center, like making them a screensaver on your phone.
  • Focus on the values and don’t sweat the details: We get lost comparing products to each other and lose track of how the products compare to our core values and goals. Next time you get absorbed in comparing a whole aisle full of different coffee makers or TVs, you can ask yourself: “How will this purchase affect my long-term goals? Is it consistent with what I want in life?”
  • Don’t punish yourself for the past—be kind to yourself when reviewing purchases: Next time you are thinking about past purchases you are not happy about, try to accept it, acknowledge that it was a mistake, and formulate a plan to avoid it next time.

“As a professional athlete, I am aware of how stress can cloud my decisions on the field and my finances off the field,” said Brandon Copeland, professional athlete and finance instructor. “I am inspired to help people create a positive financial outlook by implementing healthy financial rituals.”

Leveraging Tools & Services From Capital One For Financial Success 

Capital One is reimagining banking to break down the barriers that too often prevent people from achieving their financial goals. Some of these programs and tools include: 

  • A free, confidential Money Coaching program, which is offered at Capital One Cafés. Side-by-side with a Certified Coach, create a personalized action plan, so you can better connect your life and money goals. It is open to everyone, whether they are a Capital One customer or not. Since launching in 2017, 72% of participants have reported reduced stress after attending a session.
  • CreditWise from Capital One is a free credit monitoring tool that helps users understand, improve and monitor their credit. Capital One customer or not, anyone can enroll in CreditWise.

For more practical tips for developing a healthy financial mindset, visit:

Study Methodology

The Mind over Money Study was conducted by The Decision Lab on 1,011 nationally representative US adults over the age of 18. The study took place between March 10 and March 11, 2019, using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk® platform. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: thinking concretely (“Ways to Save”), thinking abstractly (“Reasons to Save”) and a control group. All participants then completed a series of tasks and questions designed to assess financial behaviors, attitudes and stress.

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation ( is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., had $262.7 billion in deposits and $390.4 billion in total assets as of  December 31, 2019. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has branches located primarily in New York, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index.

About The Decision Lab

The Decision Lab is an applied think-tank that uses behavioral science to create innovative solutions to some of the toughest problems in the public and private sectors. They use evidence-based approaches based on decades of research in the behavioral sciences and beyond to create sustainable behavior change in the context of: policy, finance, education, technology, health, environment, development and innovation. Our goal is to amplify the positive impact that our partners are already bringing to the world. To do this we work with a wide range of partners - from governments and foundations to Fortune 500's and startups. Find out more at

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