Balancing Emotion with Reason in Your Finances

The following post is from Christina of Northern Cheapskate:

a boy and his dog

photo credit: Christina Brown

A few weeks ago, our little 10-year old terrier was accidentally poked in the eye.  At first, she seemed fine. And then I noticed her eye was gooey, and she wasn’t opening it all the way.  We’ve made several trips to the vet for check-ups and eye drops, and because her eye isn’t healing, she’s scheduled to have surgery this week.  We’ve already put a couple hundred dollars into this injury, and now we’ll add another several hundred onto our tab as well as some regular maintenance (she’s due for some shots).

Pets are expensive.  I knew that when we got her 10 years ago.  But I wasn’t as prepared for the emotional tug-of-war between our beloved family fur ball and our wallet.

I could never let an innocent animal suffer, especially one that is our responsibility.  We’ll come up with the money for the expenses, and we’ll survive.

But it really got me thinking about how our emotions are connected to our finances.  We’re rushed into making decisions by well-meaning friends.  We overspend on gifts for our loved ones.  We’re charmed by children into spending money on little treats.  We shop when we’re bored or lonely, or sad, or to celebrate.

When you allow your emotions to rule your wallet, you’re on a slippery slope.  It becomes all too easy to justify wants as needs.

I’m slowly learning that finding a balance between emotion and reason is critical to being a good steward of both your money and your heart.

I’m learning that there are a few parts of the decision-making process that can help you find balance:

Ask as many questions as you can.

Do your homework.  You can’t make a good decision without having all of the information.  My dog is part of the family not helping her is not an option.  But I didn’t let my love for our pet override my financial sense. I asked plenty of questions about treatment options and how to make her comfortable.  We tried lower cost, less invasive treatments first.  And we investigated worst case scenarios. We got estimates for the various treatments, and I researched the options. I wanted our family to be prepared both emotionally and financially for whatever her treatment brings.

Listen to your heart, but ask it questions, too.

You can’t cut off the emotion from a decision.  It’s just not healthy.  Instead, I ask myself why I am making a particular decision.  I question the speed in which I need to make the decision, and I consider the feelings of everyone the decision impacts.  I want to make sure that I consider the emotional effect of the outcome without letting it persuade me in the decision making.

Go with your gut.

Ultimately, no one can make the best decision for your particular situation but  you.  If you’ve put thought and research into the decision, and  you’ve kept your emotions in check. Then, sometimes, you just need to take the leap.

Once you make a decision, follow through with it.  If it doesn’t work out like you planned, try again. Perseverance is an emotion that should be a part of every financial decision you make.

How do you balance your heart with your wallet?

 

Christina Brown is the creator of Northern Cheapskate, a blog dedicated to frugal living through coupons, freebies, and money-saving ideas.  She lives in the rural north woods of Minnesota where she clips coupons, pinches pennies, and chases her three boys (a 6-year-old and twin 4-year olds) as a stay-at-home mom.