Let’s face it, we’re emotional beings (thankfully). We laugh at comedy and cry at tragedy. We give money more easily to beggars on cold and rainy days, or to mothers with young children than to single men on the side of the road. We buy things on sale (with money we don’t have) even though we don’t need them and yet we dump our investments when the markets go on sale.
Continue reading Emotional beings
I recently had a conversation with someone who told me that when she was on her way (walking) to a very important meeting, a bird pooed on her head and clothes. That meant that she had to turn around, go home and shower and get changed into a fresh outfit. “Oh well” she said, “isn’t it supposed to be a sign of good luck?” Rubbish – it’s not lucky – you’ve just been crapped on!
This got me thinking about other lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better when it’s too difficult to face the truth. Like the client who is in debt up to his eyeballs and who was justifying spending R65k on an overseas holiday for the family on the grounds that 3 weeks, in SA over Easter, would not have been much cheaper. Rubbish – that’s a lie to justify willful spending of money they dont have.
Or the client who cant afford to save for retirement because they need to have a new car, or put their kids through a very expensive private school education – they will get to it later. What’s that they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions?
There are so many examples of the lies that we tell ourselves to make us feel better about our poor relationship with money. It reminds me of the classic scene from the movie “A few good men” when, under cross-examination, Jack Nicolson’s character finally cracks and shouts out “the truth, you want the truth? You cant handle the truth!”
And so we tell ourselves little lies to make us feel better about what is actually happening – how else can you explain the folklore that it’s a sign of luck if a bird poos on your head?
As human beings, emotions often dictate our behaviour. One of our dominating emotions (if we are honest with ourselves) is fear. Fear of loss, fear of being hurt, fear of being poor, fear of missing out, fear of being sick, fear of clowns, fear of needles…and probably most significantly, for most of us; the fear of dying too soon.
One of the “problems” of dying too soon is that we are often unprepared for the event which means that those left behind could be left up the creek without a boat (never mind the paddle) if our affairs are not in order.
A good starting point to prevent this happening is to make sure that you have a valid will in place and that someone else knows where the original is kept. Drawing up a will is a relatively simple (and completely painless) process – no needles will be used.
But this is where our emotions get in the way – we have the mistaken belief that somehow if we draw up a will we are increasing the likelihood of our demise. The truth is that we are all going to die one day – drawing up a will is a responsible and thoughtful thing to do – it does NOT increase the chance of you dying! If you have dependents and don’t have a will then you are being incredibly stupid and very selfish too.
Stop putting it off – get it done today!
While trying to understand more about what it means to “manage people and their emotions around money”, I came across some interesting questions this week. One of them was this: “What is your earliest memory of money?”
According to quite a few different people our earliest memories of money often play a significant role in how we view money later on in life. “It’s amazing how much the mind can play a role in creating or destroying financial freedom. These money memories have such a hold on our lives—they directly impact how we deal with our money or we don’t deal with our money.” (Suze Orman)
Turns out that the furthest back that I can remember is to a time when I was about 4 or 5 years old and my grandpa paid me to sit still – I think I lasted longer than both of us expected – 13 minutes seems to ring a bell somewhere and I got 13 cents (it was a lot of money back then) and promptly headed off to the cafe to buy some sweets.
Still trying to figure out the lesson that I would have learnt – after all I got paid for doing nothing! Dig a little deeper though and it is not that I was paid for doing nothing but rather that I was paid for “effort”. As I reflect on that I start to understand why I don’t feel good about getting money for doing nothing or very little. When I earn from clients, I need to know that I can justify that fee to the client in terms of the amount of time and effort that was put in to the work done (and that I am “worth” that fee).
For more thoughts on this you can read the posts from a whole host of people about their earliest money memories on the web…
And here are some other questions that I have found on various websites that are often used to get people started on their search for the money memories that can lead to understanding their relationship to money:
- Did your mother have to work when others didn’t, or not have to work when others did?
- Did you feel like your friends had nicer clothes than you did? Did your friends’ parents have more expensive cars than yours did?
- Do you remember the very first wallet you ever had? Was it given to you empty, or with a penny in it, or a dollar?
- Did you get less of an allowance than your friends or siblings? Did you have to work for it, or was it given to you as your right? What did you do with it?
- What did your parents tell you about money that made you feel good? What did they tell you that made you feel bad?
- What are the feelings attached to your three earliest memories of money: elation, satisfaction, humiliation, shame, guilt?
- When and how did money first enter your relationship with your mother? How did it change the emotional tone between the two of you? What about your father?
- When did you first discover that you were richer than some people and poorer than others? How did that discovery feel?
- As you were growing up, did you ever make a vow about money (“Someday I’ll have piles and piles of money and they’ll have to respect me”)? What incident gave rise to these vows? What feelings flowed through you at the time? How long did you keep repeating
those vows? Did your feelings change over time in relation to the vows? What feelings come up in you now as you recall these incidents and the vows you made?
- What were your parents’ actions regarding money? Was it a source of constant worry? Did they avoid talking about it? Did they always argue about it? Did they blame each other or you and your siblings for money problems? Did they act as if they never had enough, or maybe as if they had more than they really had? What did this teach you?
- What did you know about your family’s financial situation? Was it ever discussed? If it was a secret, why do you think that was so? Was money a source of pride or embarrassment? What did you learn from this?
- Did you have to work as a teen? What happened to the money you earned?
- When did you first go into debt to get something that you wanted? How did you feel going into debt? Was this the beginning of a pattern?
- Did money influence your choice of careers? Was that a good idea?
Sources:Adapted from George Kinder, The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life ; Suze Orman, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying ; and Steven D. Strauss and Azriela Jaffe, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beating Debt .
Maybe we shouldn’t just read them, maybe we should take some time to answer some of them too!