woman at her desk in an office

Why Address Emotions Behind the Money

by Liz Kitchell

Lots of things in our lives are siloed. For example, money is money, emotions are emotions, and those two trains never meet. 

Overall, we have a hard time grasping the very nature of what an emotion is and then, what to do with it once we encounter it. When it comes to money, we use those silos all the time: 

•  Money spent on casinos or lottery tickets?  That’s just good fun.  

•  Why do I have a house full of cookies and candy?  Why, I let my inner child push the cart, of course! 

•  Closets full of clothes?  Haven’t you ever heard of Retail Therapy?

Before you call me a killjoy, let me tell you a story about my husband.  He is a research professional who, early in his career, worked for a famous sweepstakes company, that did one-on-one interviews to get at why people participate in sweepstakes – I mean really why. Why do they spend considerable time sorting and placing stamps, mailing stuff hither and yon? It’s a lot of trouble and time, right? So why? Initial answers were along the lines of “it’s fun,” or “my mom and I used to do them,” but at the end of the day, it was something much deeper: they wanted to right a lifetime of money wrongs. 

Think about that for a moment – people spend time and money on seemingly innocuous contests, lotteries, etc., all because of unaddressed emotions around money. Maybe they didn’t save for that big vacation, their kids’ education, or that Big Something they always wanted to give a loved one. The emotion is in there, unaddressed: feelings of regret, lost opportunity, and failure are being glossed over with stories of things like “tradition,” or “treating myself” with things we somehow deserve. Or worse, we have sacrificed our wants for so long, that we have no idea what we want because we needed to save and become financially independent at all cost. That cost could be our happiness. 

Addressing the emotions free us from the automatic spending, the flimsy justifications and the artificial (but comforting) silos. It could also free us from the martyr syndrome where we sacrifice everything to ensure we do not become a burden to our families one day. No frivolous spending because the emotion of fear is paralyzing us from spending one dime on joy.

We’re all carrying this stuff around, independently of choosing to admit it or not. And that’s where my personal passion comes in: breaking down those barriers between emotion and money opens a whole new way of thinking. Economic slavery becomes passions realized, and hopeless, unconscious treadmill-spending becomes leaning into meaningful, mindful investment in one’s self. My driving mission is to help people discover these emotions and get at what they really want out of life. 

I am all for allocating money to JOY but only once people can discern real joy and what masquerades as joy. 

From the low-hanging fruit of that daily coffee routine and its $1,500.00 annual price tag, to clearing big emotional blocks that prevent fulfillment: it all starts with identifying and addressing these emotions and breaking down silos, so your money works in concert with what you truly value and who you really are. Silos aren’t “the way things are,” it’s just us and the choice we make to avoid the meaningful discussions in life. This becomes extremely important over the age of 50, we need to bring balance to the linear and experiential side of money so we can feel free as we since the second half of life approaching. To emotionally prepare for retirement is just as important as financially preparing. Therefore, I will be writing a column of fun ways to emotionally prepare the finances for the second half of life.  Because, at the end of the day, winning the lottery to right all wrongs in one foul swoop depends on random probability – something we don’t have any control over – what people can control is acknowledging their emotions, and what they are telling us.

Feel free to reach out to SheMoolah to discuss this further or give us any feedback.