Written by: Christine Luken, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Do you know why money is emotional? Most people agree that money is an emotionally loaded topic, but they don’t exactly know why it’s that way. The cause is actually our biology. Did you know that the moment decision occurs in the part of the brain that processes emotion?
This is why I get so frustrated when financial professionals tell their clients to "just leave emotion out of this money decision." They are asking you to do something that is physically impossible. We can’t just shut off our emotions. They’re part of the human experience. So, let’s talk about how we can manage our emotions, not shut them off, to make better money decisions.
Why Money Is So Emotional – And What To Do About It
95% of our daily behavior is governed by our unconscious mind
Pretty crazy, right? Each of us has a "money blueprint" in our unconscious mind that contains all of our early childhood experiences with money that can still be driving our behavior on autopilot today. If you witnessed your parents fighting about money as a child, you might have linked money talks and conflict in your unconscious mind. If you start to feel anxious and avoidant whenever your partner tries to initiate financial conversations with you, this could be why.
How do we root out unhelpful patterns in our money blueprint if we’re not conscious of them? Start paying attention to what you think and say about money. Do you say things like… “It’s not polite to talk about money.” “There’s never enough money to go around.” “Money is the root of all evil.” Did your parents or other influential adults say these things to you as a child? Our money self-talk gives us clues as to what’s in our unconscious mind. Once we identify these faulty and negative beliefs, we can rewrite them with Magnetic Money Mantras™.
Another reason that money is so emotional? Relationships
Many of our financial decisions are colored by our relationships with other people. This can cause us to make money decisions that seem irrational. If I asked you if I should cosign a car loan for a 22-year-old young man who just wrecked his brand-new car and doesn’t have a job, what you say? NO! But what if this young man is your son? And he needs a car to find a job? Does this change your answer? Maybe…
Financial decisions that seem cut and dry on the surface become sticky when our relationships are involved. One of my favorite ways for dialing down the emotion of relational money decisions is called the “Be Your Own Best Friend” technique. When you have a sticky financial decision to make, especially when it involves a loved one, write out the situation as if it were happening to your best friend. What question would you ask them? What advice would you give them? Now, it’s time for you to take your own advice! We should take the advice that we would give to our best friend because we should all be our own very best friend!
Other ways to dial down emotion
Are you tempted to spend emotionally while at the mall or surfing social media? Stop and take a deep breath. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling at this moment?” If it’s anything other than positive and peaceful, put down the credit card and back away! Just being mindful of our emotions and behavior in the moment is helpful.
It’s not uncommon for us to “medicate” our feelings with spending. Spending money gives us a temporary hit of dopamine. But it also comes with heaps of regret later when the credit card bill arrives. Are you using spending to avoid feeling sad, lonely, bored, or anxious? See if you can pinpoint the exact feeling. Now make a list of things that you can do that cost zero dollars that will help you productively process that emotion. It might be visiting a friend, watching a funny movie, or taking a long walk in nature. I have my clients make a list of 10 things that are emotionally soothing that they can do instead of spending money. Joyce Meyer, a wise woman I’ve admired for years, says it this way, “Wait for emotions to subside, then decide.”
One final question you can ask yourself if you’re concerned that you’re making a money decision driven by emotion: Will I be happy with this decision both now and later? This causes us to think about the effects of our financial choices both in the present and the future. Money is emotional and we can’t avoid that. But here’s what we can do. We can be proactive and mindful about both our money and our emotions. If you want more practical tips for doing just that, tune into the Money is Emotional podcast on your preferred listening platform.
Christine Luken, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Ready for money to support your happiness, rather than stress you out? Then you need Christine Luken, Financial Dignity® Coach in your corner! As the Founder of the Financial Dignity® Movement, Christine has coached hundreds of high-earning professionals, business owners, and divorcing women to pay off staggering amounts of debt and massively increase their net worth. The author of several books, including Money is Emotional and Financial Dignity® After Divorce, Christine blends wise money management with emotional intelligence.