Emotional Debt: Feelings Can Help Your Finances
Most financial experts will tell you that to regain control of your finances and overcome debt, “you must separate your emotions from money”. You’ll hear this echoed time and time again from experts with sentiments like “you can’t be successful if you make emotional financial decisions”.
And my favorite, “there’s no crying in personal finance”. Well, that’s just not true. For many of us, there’s plenty of crying in personal finance. Crying of fear and anxiety when we hit rock bottom and are terrified of what our future holds. And then crying again of joy and accomplishment when we come through the other side and feel in control again.
→You can read the story of my very emotional struggle with money here.
I’d like to suggest that instead of separating our emotions from our money, we take control of our emotions and use them to our advantage in reaching our financial goals.
Teach yourself to associate positive emotions with the things you want to keep doing.
Here are some examples:
Celebrate every small success. Get excited when you make a small extra payment towards your debt or watch the amount in your savings account increase. Celebrate by dancing around your living room–or whatever you do to celebrate.
Leave yourself little notes of congratulations, like a post-it on the bathroom mirror that reads “You killed off $700 of debt this month! Great job!” This is sure to inspire you while you’re brushing your teeth. I leave myself notes on the fridge too!
Brag to someone who knows how important your financial goals are to you. Instead of bragging about stuff, brag about the smart choices you’ve made with your money. Did you resist the urge to buy a new purse and go home and make a small debt payment? Tell someone. Someone who knows what a big deal that is. (Don’t have someone you want to tell? Tell me and your fellow readers in the comments below.)
When you find that you are no longer living paycheck-to-paycheck and you have some financial security, it feels so good.
The relief of not having to worry so much about all the little things that could happen and sink you financially, feels good.
Use these emotions to your advantage. Remember these good feelings. Keep working towards the goals that make you feel good.
Just as importantly, allow yourself to experience negative emotions when you make mistakes.
Did you go to the mall for one small thing and end up spending more than you wanted to? Allow yourself to feel a little bit bad about the mistake. And then fix it. If you bought things you didn’t need, go back and return them. Take the money you got from the return and make a small extra debt payment with it. Then, proceed to dance around your living room.
If you are struggling to pay your bills this month, for whatever the reason may be, remember how that feels too. Work like crazy to get as far away from that feeling as you can. When you come out the other side, remember how scary it was, and make sure that you never go back there.
The bottom line…
Use your feelings about money to your advantage. Embracing both the positive and negative emotions that you encounter on your financial journey can help you in the long run.