Have you noticed that most of us have an unhealthy emotional relationship with money?
On one hand, we love money because:
•we need it for basic necessities like food, shelter and clothing
•our financial security and well-being depends on it
•it gives us freedom to do whatever we like
•it is a powerful tool to help others
On the other hand, we hate money because:
•we feel it controls our life
•we do not have enough of it
•we believe that money changes people and brings out all the negative qualities in them
•it forces us to get a job that we hate and robs us of our freedom
This love-hate attitude is very similar to the one we have with food.
A moment on the lips a lifetime on the hips…
When we eat a big piece of cake it gives us a sense of an instant gratification. We truly enjoy the feeling of rich warm chocolate melting in our mouth. Mmmm…
But 10 minutes later, after the cake is gone, the pleasure gives in to bitterness, regret and guilt. The cake we so strongly desired just a few minutes earlier turns into a reminder of our weakness and flabby belly.
Our relationship with money is very similar. We love the feeling of exchanging it for something we really want! On our way home the “instant gratification” that lies in our shopping bag feels heavy and wonderful! But the next day when our initial excitement wears off a nasty feeling of guilt creeps into our soul. We realize that we have wasted our hard-earned money on something that we did not need in the first place. And we mentally beat ourselves up for our wastefulness.
What if I do not get any?
Thousands of years ago, when supermarkets did not exist, our ancestors had to apply enormous effort to procure their food. The survival principle was very simple – “If you find food – eat it all while you can, because there is no guarantee that tomorrow it will still be there”. Up to this day we all have this hard wired mechanism in our brain that urges us to take it all every time we get the feeling of ‘scarcity’.
If someone puts a bowl of chocolates that we like in front of us, we will eat most of them! And we will do it not because we are hungry, but because we can have them now!
The same mechanism is triggered when we hear phrases like “offer is valid till…”, “It’s the last one we have”, “It is selling out really fast”. It triggers a “grabbing reflex” in our brain and we buy without thinking. People who work in advertizing are well aware of this mechanism and actively use it. However, the amazing thing is that even if we are aware of it, it still works!
Bigger is better!
Oversized portions are one of the major reasons why we gain weight. Discounts and “Buy 1 get 1 free” or “Buy 3 for the price of 2” offers are one of the major reasons why we spend so much money buying things that we end up; throwing away, giving to someone else or keeping in our closets for years to collect dust.
Whenever we add extra stuff to our shopping cart, just because we are offered a “good deal”, we feel like we are getting more value for our “buck”. This perception is, in fact, partly true. We buy more and pay less. However, it is ONLY true if you really need 12 packs of Corn Flakes or two pairs of jeans. In all the other cases you really spend money on the things that have no or very little value to you. This would not be so bad if we had not taken that money out of our emergency funds, our children’s education or other things that we actually needed to buy.
Three easy steps to improve your relationship with money:
1. Whenever you have the urge to buy something, do not give in to the impulse. This is a great start to save money.
2. Go home. Talk to your family members. Analyze your financial situation.
3. Sleep on it. If the next day you still feel that you have to buy it – so be it! But at least you know that you have made a rational decision about it!