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Why Are We So Emotional about Money?

We were taught, if we learned anything about money, that it was about spreadsheets and calculators. It has to be rational and reasonable. But then we go to check the credit card statement with our spouse or partner, and suddenly we get into an argument. It’s a bit like grabbing an electric fence that you didn’t know was electric.

We all know that no matter how worried, scared or excited we feel, 2+2 always equals 4. But when it comes to money, 2+2 equals feelings. Because, it turns out, money is not in the math department. It’s in the psychology department.

Because money is such an emotionally charged subject, it can be hard to talk about. We get that. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean we can avoid it.

There is a pattern of behavior around money. Spending too much money, buying cheap plastic items, thinking they will bring us happiness, not saving. In other words, it is important for us not to align our use of capital – in terms of spending, saving and investing – with what we say. No one has ever taught us how to do this. So it’s time we taught ourselves.

And this week’s very simple, limited, focused lesson is exactly this: talking about money equals talking about feelings.

We really want to highlight this idea. We believe there is something important here.

If money is all about spreadsheets, how does greed fit into your spreadsheet? What about fear? What about concern that you won’t be able to offer your children the life you had hoped for?

These are all money issues wrapped in feelings. Or are they feelings wrapped up in money issues? Either way, the point remains. Money = Feelings. No math!

The sooner we realize that this is true, the sooner we can have realistic expectations about what it is like to talk about money.

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We advise expat clients around the world.