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The Psychology of Personal Finance: How to Have a Healthy Relationship with a Limited Budget

Finance

Photo Credit: www.thebalance.com

The human mind and money have an overly complex relationship.

A cause of shame, anxiety, depression, and oftentimes thought as a source of happiness, people have long associated money with emotions. And this is why people seldom handle their personal finances logically.


Despite it being in their best interest, people don't save money. People spend too much out of excitement or too little out of guilt. This is especially true for people with a limited budget. Studies show that people with constrained personal finances invest their emotions heavily with money.

So with that in mind, here are the key concepts you have to understand in order to have a healthy relationship with money:

Understand your finances
Having a healthy relationship with anything entails having a deep understanding about it. A good grip on the limits and potentials of your personal finances can help manage your expectations and rationalize how you see money. A provocative think piece published on the New York Times highlights how people feel happier with cash on hand rather than investing that cash, even if the latter makes much more long-term sense.

In many contexts, talking about finances is still taboo. At work, people don't talk about remuneration. In gatherings, discussions around debt rarely come up. And even at home, any dialog on managing money almost always end up emotionally charged. To attain financial literacy, you have to pierce this veil and have a grounded approach on managing debt, expenses, and savings.

Understand the game

Contrary to what you might think, consumers aren't that savvy. Marketers around the world have always tapped into the fact that emotions are the greatest drivers of consumption. People buy things when it has an emotional presence or relevance.

Knowing the pain points of being a consumer and how marketing utilizes your emotions to target your wallet are the best ways to get ahead. Tricks like making the medium sized drink almost as expensive as the large one to point you in that direction is an old one that remains effective to this day.

An online survey commissioned by the housing charity Shelter found that families who rent suffer from anxiety. Especially in highly coveted markets, you need to be aware of certain unsaid rules that can make survival difficult for the uninitiated. For instance, in one of Yoreevo's guides to NYC real estate, the site reveals how co-op square footage in the city is almost always overstated. This makes it very hard to compare units based on stated size alone.

These are just some of the reasons why the vicious cycle of anxiety, depression, and guilt in spending is also fueled by consumerism. But you can do something about it. Having a healthy relationship with spending means discerning your needs and wants and making sound financial decisions from that discernment.

Furthermore, unhealthy notions of your financial capacity or situation may even lead to a decreased capacity to make money. Some CEOs in this interview think they won't get funding if VCs uncover that they have mood disorders or are stressed psychologically.

Understand yourself
The most relevant emotions related to money are guilt, shame, fear, and envy. Being more conscious of when and how these feelings come up when you spend, save or invest will help you to be more mindful with money.

Mint recommends you forgive yourself when you miss a credit card bill or overspend. Beating yourself up over financial mistakes can end with you sinking even deeper into the cycle of guilt and shame.

This should go without saying: never make major financial decisions when you're emotional or in a vulnerable state. But it's easier said than done. Creating powerful habits or rituals like taking a jog or eating a meal first before deciding can aid in disengaging from emotional decision making.

A deep understanding of yourself is key in having a level-headed approach to managing or even growing your finances. Personal finance is really one of those fields where emotion fails and logic thrives.

5 Min Read
Self

The Psychological Power Of Clothes

She walks into a room ready for her presentation. She wants to land this new client and has worked weeks on it. She heads to the 35th floor of the tallest building on the block knowing she has documentation that is sure to impress. The conference room has a 20-foot long table surrounded by executives in blue suits, button-down shirts, pencil skirts, and blazers.

At this point, she realizes she didn't take into consideration the other important component of her presentation... she is not dressed appropriately.

Is it true that there is power in clothing? Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive?

For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I believe that clothing can greatly impact first impressions and make a lasting impact on anyone you interact with. Like it or not, people will judge you on how you look and they will make both conscious and subconscious decisions about you based on what you're wearing… Is she trustworthy? Is she the expert we need? Will she fit in our corporate culture?

Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.

After all, if you were hiring a financial advisor, and one walked in with a pair of jeans and the other in a pair of trousers and blazer, who would you trust with your money? Even if you don't realize what you're doing when you interact with people, there may be more going on beneath the surface. It's something to think about for sure.

Here's another example, let's say you want to hire a party planner for an event. You meet with the first candidate, and she is wearing a wrinkled shirt and her fingernails are chipping and half-painted. Whereas candidate number two walks in and has on a pencil skirt, pumps, and silk blouse. Who do you think would pay more attention to the details associated with your party?

In 2019, WWD wrote about the psychological effects clothing has on a person:

It is said that clothing is what makes and defines a person. What you wear tells others what you are and makes a statement about your taste, character and individuality. It gives an insight into your nature, whether you are casual or formal, playful or serious, cool or just composed. Whether you are attending a job interview, out on a date or just strutting by the beach, your apparel tells us so much about you at a simple glance.

We know that it takes 5-7 seconds for a person to subconsciously form an opinion about you. Our eyes take in how you look; after all, what you're wearing will influence how you are perceived. How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?

How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?

And it goes way beyond the external. There is scientific data that shows how an individual feels differently when dressed in a variety of styles. In an article from Research Gate, they found that, "Fashion choices can affect both self-image, the impression that you convey to others and in turn, the way in which people behave towards you."

Have you ever heard of the term "enclothed cognition"? It refers to the phenomenon in which people tend to adopt the traits and properties they associate with the clothes they wear. In a study on the psychology of clothing, that same article as above reports that, "Participants judged women to be more forceful in job interviews and were more likely to recommend them for hiring when they were dressed in a more masculine style compared with a more feminine style," and that "Both men and women are attracted to stylish clothing that fits them well, makes them feel well-dressed and looks current."

On some level, we may all agree with that statement.

Naturally, as a personal stylist, I am a true believer in the power of clothes. I have seen my clients' exhilaration as they take in their transformation, brought about by an outfit, a new style, and clothes that look incredible on them. I have also witnessed physical changes like their facial expressions, huge smiles, laughter, sparkling eyes, and even a change in the way they walk. It's almost like there has been a shift in attitude toward their inner beauty, which has increased because they feel and look amazing and confident.

Although most of us are no longer strutting our way to the boardroom, the psycholigcal power of clothing is still necessary and relevant, especially now that we're confined to our home offices. Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry. Not only will your peers perceieve you as more professional and more put-together, but I am sure you will also feel better, be more alert, and have more energy.

Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry.

I'm not saying you need to look like a superstar every second of every day. However, I want you to think about the positive impact well-fitting, stylish clothes can have on both others' perceptions of you as well as your inner-confidence and intrinsic behavior.