Take Control of Your Finances by Harnessing Your Emotions
By Measured Wealth Private Client Group
Researchers have determined that emotions can and do influence, skew, or even completely determine the outcome of a large number of decisions on a daily basis. And financial decisions in particular are far from immune to our emotions!
Money and emotions are often intertwined because our money habits are formed at a young age, which also means they can be difficult to break. Imagine someone who knows it would benefit them to save money instead of spending, but they struggle to veer off script because they have an emotional response to spending (it makes them feel good)—even though they understand it can be a negative habit (they are not saving enough).
Let’s take a closer look at how we develop our money habits, and ways we can remove emotions from the script to make better financial decisions.
The Money Script
Do you sometimes feel like the discipline to make rational and well-thought-out financial decisions must be too good to be true? Because no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to stick to it? Well, I am sure there are others that feel the same way. These feelings are not uncommon and are most likely due to the emotional and psychological baggage we all carry around relating to our money, otherwise known as our money scripts. And, as with most of the baggage we’ve lugged into our adult lives, these scripts usually start forming at a very young age.
Even though we may not be aware of it, we spend our childhood picking up on how our parents and other significant role models relate to and handle money, and over time, our brains are subconsciously trained to respond in similar ways. If your parents were confident in their ability to make wise investments, you will likely face investing with confidence as well. Contrarily, if you experienced your parents scrounging to get by and often quarreling over expenses, you may experience some pretty strong feelings of guilt when making certain purchases.
The seeds of money scripts are planted in childhood, watered by observation, and eventually grow to influence your emotional beliefs about finances as an adult. For this reason, it is vital to be intentional and diligent in talking to your kids about money and modeling healthy financial behaviors. It is just as important to take the time to examine yourself and understand your money scripts and how they influence your financial behavior.
The Negative Side of Money Scripts
To be fair, not all money scripts are bad. Some behaviors we learn plant seeds for beneficial emotions about finances. However, other behaviors, such as money avoidance, focus on financial status, or the idolization and even worship of money, can be flat-out detrimental. Unhealthy emotions and belief patterns can lead to all kinds of financial problems, such as financial infidelity, compulsive buying, pathological gambling, and financial dependence. Certain money scripts have been tied to lower levels of net worth, lower income, and higher amounts of revolving credit.
Those may sound extreme, but have you ever let panic during a market downturn take your focus off of your long-term investing plan? Have you ever been unable to make a decision because you were paralyzed with worry and anxiety about the future? Have you ever wreaked havoc on your budget for the momentary high of acquiring something you really wanted? All of these behaviors stem from your personal money script.
Money Scripts Can Be Changed
We often think that if we had more money, we wouldn’t have any problems. But we have money problems because of how we approach money, not necessarily because we don’t have enough. This is good news! We might not be able to drastically increase our income, but we can learn to control our attitudes and perceptions. Our money scripts may be ingrained from childhood, but they are not permanent. With a focused and concerted effort, they can be changed.
The first step you must take in overcoming your money scripts is to identify them. To do this, you must become aware of your emotional responses to common financial situations. Begin to stop and notice your emotional responses to these common experiences:
- Earning money
- Buying things
- Saving for the future
- Budgeting and tracking expenses
- Making financial decisions
- Volatile markets
- Healthy markets
- Meeting with a financial professional
- Thinking about your financial future
How do these things make you feel? Anything that elicits strong emotions warrants further reflection. Keep in mind that negative emotions are not the only ones that can harm your financial life. Some positive emotions, like optimism and self-confidence, can bring about negative results if unwarranted and left unchecked.
How to Manage Emotional Money Decisions
The key to changing your money scripts and developing healthier money habits is learning to control your emotions. You can also build some new, healthy habits that protect you financially and incorporate them into your life. Habits and disciplines such as taking advantage of automatic savings, investing through your bank or employer’s retirement plan, scheduling regular family budget meetings, and enlisting the help of someone reliable to keep you accountable are great places to start. Eventually, you will learn how you respond to emotional triggers and you can then take steps, like mandating a “cooling off” period for yourself, before making any decisions.
Finally, you need to be willing to forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Leave the past in the past and move forward with the new knowledge you have gained. Choosing to forgive yourself for past mistakes frees you up to be more effective with your new tools. As you begin to collect victories, both big and small, you will likely find it even easier to extend forgiveness.
Team Up With a Trusted Partner
Selecting a financial advisor to partner with is no small decision, and it can bring up some of those emotions we discussed. That’s why we at Measured Wealth Client Private Group believe it’s important to have a foundation of trust with the team you choose to work with.
Your financial strategy is an ongoing process of planning and honing according to your custom needs, and we’re here to support you every step of the way. To see if we’re the right fit to help you on your financial journey, reach out by calling our office at 603-431-1444 or visiting our Measured Wealth Private Client Group website to set up a complimentary consultation.
About Measured Wealth Private Client Group
Measured Wealth Private Client Group, LLC was founded on the core values of our country, hard work, integrity, and uncompromising quality. Independence is our backbone. We diligently work for each client, assisting them in reaching their financial goals.
For 20 years we have inspired our clients to make informed decisions through education, communication, and service which exceeds their expectations. We serve a select client base, and for the benefit of our existing clients, we have a mutual selection process of accepting new clients every year.
We invite you to explore Measured Wealth Private Client Group, LLC and “Experience the Difference.”