What do women in business consider their biggest money challenge? As a Certified Money Coach, I conducted a survey last week to get feedback on that money question and others. In response to: “What’s your greatest challenge with money”Read More
Television companies LOVE Super Bowl Month. That's when 4.5 million of you bought new big screen TV sets in 2011, which was up from 3.6 million in 2010. Now, here's the question: If you're impulsively buying a new TV this season, are you more likely to use credit or pay cash? And, which part of your brain do you think is in charge of this decision - your logical neocortex or your more emotional midbrain? And why could the latter be a huge problem? (Well, not for the credit card companies.)
Before I answer those questions, think about this: *"Would you rather have $15 in two weeks or $20 in four weeks?" According to fMRI brain imaging scans taken while the person is pondering, this question lights up your prefrontal cortex because it asks you to project into the future. But this next question: "Would you rather have $15 now or $20 in 2 days?" shows that the logical ignores that question and the primitive brain lights up. This is why we get into big trouble as consumers. If we want something and we want it NOW we will have it. Just CHARGE IT, right?
Of course we all know that consumer debt is a problem that creates strife and struggle. For you Cpa’s or Financial Advisors this piece around emotional decisions vs. logical is key when you’re advising your clients to save and invest in their future. Saving for the future is a prefrontal logical decision. Unfortunately, the emotional brain is all too often in charge. We all know of someone (cough, cough) who know they SHOULD be saving for their future or be adding money into their 401K. But the immediate reward of NOW wins out.
To help keep your logical brain in charge of major decisions, Dr. Krueger says to avoid making important money decisions when you're emotional or too tired, wait and sleep on big decisions and have a plan that you STICK to. There's an acronym from 12 Step Programs: HALT: which means to avoid getting too hungry, angry, longely or tired because these are vulnerable states of mind.
(*from The Secret Language of Money, David Krueger, M.D.)
When does the "gotta have it- want it now" lizard brain run over the rational, logical neocortex when it comes to how much money is enough? When the drug of "more is better" is fed over and over again with repetition. Dr. Peter C. Whybrow, author of "When More Is Not Enough," and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), connects the dots between the world economic meltdown and the ancient lizard brain that hoards for a rainy day. He states that even when there is an abundance of food and goods, the reptilian brain still acts as though there is deprivation. Michael Lewis, author of Boomerang, in a recent Vanity Fair article points to an interesting piece of trivia: overlay a color-coded map that highlights American personal credit over the Center for Disease Control’s map for obesity and you get a similar pattern. No big surprise there - overindulgence in one area of our life slips over into other areas.*(from http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/339566/lizard-brains-and-financial-crises).
As an addiction specialist what I know from 20+ years in the addiction field, hundreds of clients and research for Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom, is that whatever we repetively do trains the brain, either positively or negatively. As Dr. Whybrow says, "If you follow the path of self-indulgence often enough, eventually you will lose the ability to self-regulate, (which is) a higher brain function."
In simple language that means that in times of plenty the reptilian or lizard brain doesn't know how to adjust it's hoarding instincts. Addiction anyone? I look at addiction as a continuum. At one end of the continuum are those of us in American culture that have no addictions and the other end are those whose lives are completely unmanageable with their addictions. These are the folks who have major financial, relational or health problems because of their addictions. Most of us lie somewhere in between and we still have choice.
I think the world financial crisis has the potential to awaken us to not only the mistakes we've made with money but to change the addictive beliefs that MORE will make us happy. Research shows that's an illusion and that once basic needs are met, more does not increase lasting happiness. Instead, to get the reactive lizard brain under control we need to face our fears, figure out how much is enough, and practice the discipline of daily right action.
"You can never be too rich or too thin." Babe Paley, 1950s socialite
Did you know that wealth and weight issues are often tangled together for women?
Women will go to extreme measures to look good and spend thousands of dollars over a lifetime on diet products, clothes and shoes and justify the expense for reasons that vary from: "I have to look good for work," to "I'm working so hard I deserve this." By the way, that same justification works for food as well as shopping. Some women shop (or eat or restrict eating) to fill time because they're bored, or for the adrenalin high that comes with shopping anticipation.
These are not bad or wrong behaviors or feelings but they only work temporarily to make you feel better and they can dilute your power and productivity.
Weight and money issues are self-esteem issues. Insecurity and the advertising industry drive the multi billion dollar dieting industry, pressure women to have more clothes than they can wear, purchase designer bags and shoes, and develop wasteful spending habits. I'm not saying it's not fun to spend money, but to take charge of our money women need to be very MINDFUL of what the energy it takes to earn money and where their money goes.
Here are some questions to think about:
Guesstimate how much you've spent in your lifetime on dieting books, videos, products. (Don't include gym memberships you actually use for health or fitness).
What's your annual budget for clothes? If you don't have a budget or know how much you spend you need to. Guesstimate how much you really spend each year on clothes, purses, shoes, jewelry. How much of this is is a need or a want? How much of the dieting or spending is to distract yourself from anxiety or emotional upset? Remember what Peggy Gardiner, the Organizer said: A shopping need is to replace something worn out, a want is anything else. (I think that's a little stringent, but good to think about.) I hope this fuels some thinking & discussion.
If you're in business for yourself how much do you invest each year on education, self-improvement, business or financial education compared to what you spend on dieting or clothing? Be honest and gentle.