Emotions and Money
Board: Credit Cards and Consumer Debt

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By Windowseat
March 14, 2007

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I've been thinking lately about emotions in regard to money; how we think about money, what it means to us, how we regard it.

To a number of people on the board, money is security. It's protection from poverty and need, it means that they'll never have to worry about a roof over their head or food on the table. So, when they spend money, they spend it with thought and care. They don't throw it around, but neither do they hoard it. However, they do make sure that purchases are considered carefully, and they make sure that they get the best value for their money. It could be a matter of buying a car that has a reputation for lasting a long time, it could be a matter of making sure that what some people might consider an emotional reason (such as IVF) are examined carefully before going ahead. They don't want to be in the position of throwing away money for no purpose.

Other people hoard money. They hate to let a single penny leave their fingers. These are the "cold beans from a can" folk. They will never enjoy anything as much as they enjoy their money, so they don't spend it.

Other people enjoy money for what it can buy them. They like spending it, they enjoy having things. The vacations they go on are a pleasure to them, they like good clothes, good surroundings. Very often these people are also very careful with their money, and they consider purchases carefully, because in many cases they understand that they can't get the money back, and they need to really choose between the diamond tennis bracelet and the trip to Austria. In other cases they don't keep track, and we often see these people on the boards, slightly startled at their debt. It's not that they regret the trips, or the purchases, but they wish they had saved up ahead of time, rather than rushing ahead.

And there are people for whom the money just flies away. They can't figure out where it goes. You can give them a hundred dollars, and at the end of a week they'll have no money, and don't remember buying a thing. They'll swear someone took the money out of their wallet. There's no emotion connected to the money, or their purchase. Money seems to be a way of passing the time.

Okay, I know I've missed several types, and I know that people would add this type, or think about their own attitude. In fact, I've been trying to analyze my own feelings about money. I like the protection it brings, but I also enjoy buying things I want. (I never said that two types couldn't be combined). But, even though I enjoy buying things, the protection and security matters more (usually) and so I limit my purchases to what I can afford.

How about the rest of you? How do you feel about money, and how does that feeling drive your spending habits? What types have I missed? Have you seen other reactions? And yes, I omitted the whole "money is power" group. Other people can fill in that crowd. I'm just wondering how many people have actually analyzed their emotions toward money.



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