The following guest post was promoted from the Forums. It was written by Jonathan Groe, the founder of CentsToShare, the personal finance journey of an early 20′s java developer who understands the importance of saving money.
I recently found a really interesting article that talks a little about the natural tendencies of geese to help each other out when in flight formation, and how that kind of support plays a large role in our finances.
Nature at Work: Lessons From Geese
Nature has a reputation for finding pretty efficient ways of surviving, and the goose is a prime example. It has been found that geese who travel together in formation are able to travel between 75-80% farther than a single goose traveling alone.
Geese that travel in formation, fly in the shape of a V. By traveling this way, geese are able to maximize the amount of energy that gets output from each goose during flight. The goose in the front creates a slipstream for which the geese following can pass through, creating less drag on the overall group. The geese behind help to push the geese in front of them when they push their wings up, because it creates an upward draft that lunges forward. The effect is similar to a push-pull motion, that helps all members of the flock.
The lead goose uses a lot more energy than the following geese, and so gets tired much more quickly. To mitigate this problem, the lead goose position is rotated among all members of the flock, so that each goose takes the lead position, but then gets to rest before taking the lead again.
A third, very interesting observation, is that any geese that drop from the flock, whether due to injury, sickness, or lack of energy, will never be left behind. Typically, a few geese will stay with the goose that falls behind, in order to encourage and help protect the goose, until he/she is ready to return to the flock.
Why Geese Honk at Each Other
The most important point I learned from this information has to do with how geese constantly honk at each other, while they are flying. Sometimes you can even hear it as they fly over, it can get so loud. The last month, especially has been pretty active for geese, as they migrate to warmer temperatures. Scientists think this honking has two effects on the entire flock. First off, it probably allows the geese to locate each other, in order to avoid hitting one other. Secondly, and possibly more important, it is widely thought that this honking is a way of encouraging one another, in order to keep up flock moral. By honking, geese are able to communicate their mutual success, and really put forth a full effort for the entire flock.
How it applies to us
After reading this, and the subsequent analysis of how this environment helps bloggers continue to support each other, and come up with new ideas, I realized this idea applies to personal finance as well.
For a long time the subject of personal finance has been taboo. People, even today, isolate themselves in their financial world, never sharing ideas on savings, or debt management, and never benefit from the shared environment that is so simple to replicate, even a goose can do it.
If such a beneficial support system can be created by geese, it’s strange that humans find it difficult to replicate the same thing. Ultimately it comes down to pride, I think. By not displaying how much money or debt you have, you leave your neighbors wondering, and possibly trying to outdo you by purchasing more things. This also works in reverse, and leads to the negative effect of spending more money, and piling up debt. If I knew how much money my neighbor had, or maybe more importantly how much debt he had, I’m pretty sure I’d think about my finances in a completely different way. And I don’t think this new way would necessarily be negative for me.
We are seeing a revolution to this type of isolated mentality. Because talking about these things in person is often seen as uncomfortable, people are beginning to take to the informal medium of blogging about personal finance. People are sharing tips on savings, investing, debt management, and even going so far as to announce bank account balances to the general public. This type of thinking was non-existent just 10 years ago.
The effect of this change in financial discussions has been absolutely astounding. It’s so encouraging and uplifting, to me, to read so many stories about people becoming debt free, about becoming minimalist, or just about changing up your way of thinking about money and life. To someone who is struggling with their personal finances, I can’t imagine the hope that these stories bring forth. I’m sure it’s pretty similar to how a goose who falls behind his flock feels when a few of his flock come back to find him and help him fly in formation. It brings about strength, and a sense of belonging and inclusion that can conquer any obstacle.
I encourage everyone to share their honks! After all, we are in this together.
Photo By Alanna