Money Matters

Emotions Can Hurt Financial Decision-Making

Entrepreneur, business coach, and author Meriflor Toneatto cites five emotions that shape financial decisions.

Everyone has a relationship with money, but for women, it’s much more fraught with emotion, says Meriflor Toneatto, an entrepreneur, certified business and life coach, and author of Money, Manifestation & Miracles: 8 Principles for Transforming Women’s Relationship with Money ( “For women, money is an emotional currency. It’s tied to our sense of self-worth and self-confidence, and our feelings of safety and security. These feelings often translate into self-limiting decisions. When we avoid and ignore those emotions, we allow them to quietly guide our decision-making — which inevitably holds us back. The good thing is, once you begin to recognize them, they’re like a flashing yellow ‘caution’ light.”

Toneatto cites five emotions, often rooted in childhood, that shape so many of our decisions:

> Fear: The most common emotion among women is fear. With money, we fear not having enough of it; that someone will take it; that we’ll lose it all and never get it back. And we fear an abundance of money. We may fail to negotiate a higher salary because we fear we can’t live up to it. Successful women may be reluctant to reach higher because we fear failure — and losing it all. 
> Guilt: People who say things like, “I feel guilty when I spend instead of save” or “I never buy anything unless it’s on sale” have guilt feelings associated with money. Many of us are natural nurturers who’ve gotten the message that “good” women are selfless, and so we may freely, even recklessly, spend on others while withholding from ourselves.
> Shame: This painful emotion cuts to the core because it springs from how we feel about who we are — whether we’re “good enough,” worthy, and deserving. We avoid talking about shame, and so it exerts control over us. With money, shame is commonly connected to amassing a lot of debt and hiding it because we fear being judged, humiliated, and disliked.
> Anger: This emotion repels money, opportunities, and people because it can leave us closed off emotionally and physically from others. It’s based in a belief in the unfairness of life and/or the unfairness of money. A person who becomes angry about money may be angry at herself for missing an opportunity or for mishandling money in the past.
> Blame: Anger and blame often go hand in hand. It stems from feeling disappointed or wronged because you believe your life would have been easier and/or better if someone — maybe parents or a spouse — had been able to provide you with more money.

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