3 Ways to Prevent Emotions from Ruling (and Ruining) Your Financial Decisions

October 01, 2014

Connect Member

Personal finance expert & writer for ReadyForZero


I recently watched Emma Watson give a speech about feminism and gender inequality. Besides being delighted by her statements and the clarity of her mission, I was reminded of the wide range of gender inequality and the way we women tend to put ourselves into the gender role box.

Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Calling ourselves “divas,” saying a girl in a bad mood must be having “that time of month,” allowing ourselves to feel like having emotions makes us weak. This impacts our daily lives - but it can really hurt us in our finances.

Emotions and finances seem like oil and water. We logically write out a budget and make plans and then our emotions (such as fear, guilt, shame, etc.) can take over and cause us to stray. As if that weren’t bad enough, falling off track doesn’t just affect that one moment. It makes many of us want to throw in the towel. We blame and berate ourselves. We hide our mistakes out of shame and do whatever we can to avoid the thought of our finances moving forward.

Here’s the kicker. Men do this too. ALL people do this. Let’s face it, budgets are easy to stick to when we’re feeling even-keeled. But a bad day (or a fun day) can throw us off faster than we even realize. And getting back on track is hard for most people. 

Ladies, here’s how we can specifically prevent emotions from ruling — and ruining — our finances.

Stop the Blame Game

Money may be concrete but it can wreak havoc on our emotions. People feel their money reflects their self-worth. If we manage our money well, we feel we’ll be viewed as responsible and successful. If we have trouble managing our money (regardless of our income), we fear we’ll be viewed as irresponsible, floundering, and maybe even failures.

It’s time to stop the blame game. We ALL make mistakes. We ALL stray from our budget at times. We ALL allow our emotions to get the best of us occasionally. Own up to it. Accept it. Realize that it happens. Then move on.

This isn’t a male or female thing. This is a people thing. Understand that humans are humans and we will mess up at times. What really matters is our ability to get up and keep going after we fall. 

Never Say You’re Bad with Numbers

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said you’re bad at math. If you’ve ever let your dad, brother, boyfriend, or husband deal with the finances because you trust that he’ll do it better. If you fear you’ll never understand how to pay off debt or learn to invest because it’s too complicated.

Ladies, it’s time to stop saying you’re bad at math. I am so, so guilty of this. I’ve been saying I’m bad at math for years. And while it’s true I won’t be cracking a calculus book open anytime soon, that doesn’t mean I can’t handle the math that goes into budgeting. And that doesn’t mean I can’t utilize tools to help me understand compound interest and investing. And that especially doesn’t mean I can’t find help from an expert (male or female) if I know I need it.

You don’t like numbers? Me neither. That’s okay! Take babysteps and use resources to help you. And above all else, listen to your gut. If someone helping you doesn’t ask you questions or pushes you into something you’re uncomfortable with, walk away. 

Understand your priorities and keep them in the forefront whether you’re going it alone or seeking professional help.

Find the Confidence from Within

No one was born understanding how to manage money. Anyone who is talented at managing their money found the knowledge from somewhere — books, school, blogs, parents, colleagues. Some find it earlier in life due to a passion for numbers. Others seek the knowledge because they know they need help. 

There’s never going to be a moment when you wake up and feel like you can do it unless you start putting the time in now. Follow the news, read financial blogs and books, and experiment with your own budget until you find a system that works. This is how you’ll find the confidence to move forward. That confidence is in you — you just need to find the knowledge to help you awaken it. No matter how you feel about numbers, money, or your past, you CAN do this!

Shannon McNay is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.