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  • Writer's pictureNathan Astle

How do we change our money behaviors?

Updated: May 7

So many of our clients come to us for help in this area. They know they need to change. They see the writing on the wall. They see their bank accounts depleted, their relationships in pain, and their self-esteem in shambles. No, I’m not being dramatic. Unfortunately, that is something so many of us experience when our financial behaviors are betraying us. The biggest challenge isn’t necessarily that they don’t know they need to change, it is that they don’t know how.

While this blog will never compete with the hours of personal work done in and out of a session, I wanted to give you a few ideas of how to change some of the behaviors that are hurting you. Of course, anything you read on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt and FTCI is happy to help you with this journey!

Whether we like it or not, humans are incredibly emotional creatures and when those emotions go unacknowledged, we are subject to them.

Make emotional shifts to make financial ones.

So much of what we do (behavior) is directly linked with what we feel (emotions). Whether we like it or not, humans are incredibly emotional creatures and when those emotions go unacknowledged, we are subject to them. Just like in the Pixar movie Inside Out our emotions can be at our controls if we aren’t recognizing their impact.

Pick a financial behavior you want to change. Now think about the most common emotions that happen before, during, and after that action. Some common emotions that drive our behaviors may be fear, shame, sadness, grief, or happiness. Our emotions are incredibly useful pieces of information about our needs if we pay attention. If you know you overspend while online shopping, it is likely that online shopping is currently being used to meet an emotional need. What is the core need underneath that emotion? Is there more than one way to meet that need? Can I pause long enough to figure out the answer to these questions before acting?

Look into your past to determine your future.

I don’t want you to read that paragraph title and think you are doomed to repeat the past. However, your past and the past of your family tree can be very predictive of what you do in the future. So, look at the messages you got about money growing up. What did your parents/guardians tell you about money? What did their parents say to them? What financial traumas, injuries, or experiences have impacted this family money tree? What cycles does it predict in you if you don’t break that cycle? So many of our money values and beliefs are given to us and don’t reflect what we want for ourselves. The best part is that you do get to decide which things from that family tree to nurture and which pieces need trimming.

Give yourself time.

There are dozens of research articles and entire fields of marketing dedicated to the art of impulse manipulation. Our impulses are often driven by our emotional needs (see first paragraph), and we sometimes make poor choices based on impulses of the moment. Gambling is almost entirely built on this psychological phenomenon. If you struggle with impulsive financial behaviors, give yourself time. On some level, there must be an intentional choice about waiting to do something before we act. Here’s a little fun rule:

For every dollar the item is, give yourself twice that amount in minutes before following through.

So for example, If an item costs $20, wait at least 40 minutes before you buy. If it costs $300, give yourself at least 600 minutes (10 hours) and see if you still feel the same towards that purchase. It isn’t foolproof but may prevent hundreds if not thousands of dollars in unnecessary spending.

Find support.

Whether that is in the form of professional help with FTCI, or just getting support from a partner, friend, or loved one, get help. Money has spent too much time in our headspace and heartspace to still be as taboo as it is.

We need to talk to each other more about it.

We need to help each other stay accountable. We need to bring our empathy and compassion A-game to our friends that might be struggling.

If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to us and we would be happy to hear your money story and help you make some of these changes!

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