Humans are a dysfunctional, irrational, breed of animal. Our craziness comes in every different flavour there is. The sane moments only serve to hi-light how bat shit delusional we are most of the time.
What makes this fact easier to accept, is that we are all just as crazy as each other. So when we all do variations of the same dumb stuff it is at least reassuring. At least we can point to each other and say ‘well, she’s just as big a numpty as I am’. Sometimes it feels better to be collectively mental, than to be alone.
Nevertheless, the gargoyles and fun house mirrors are there, hovering in our subconscious. They distort our best reasoning, and inform our deeply held beliefs, fears and behaviours on a daily basis.
Money appears to be concrete and measurable but we bend it to suit our preferences every time… Finance articles can seem dry and sensible. Don’t be fooled. Behind the print is every base fear, desire and opera storyline of the human condition!
Money is a a placeholder – which means we get to paint it any colour we like. It can be the approval we never got as a kid, a trophy of achievement to wave in the nose an old rival, it can be a way of running screaming from the idea of ever being poor again. It can be a hushed concept, like sex or politics, best left out of civilised conversation. It can be the reason a bad person is well off, or why a good person is poor.
Any of these familiar? (they are to me……….!) :
- Money spent using a credit card is invisible and feels not as expensive as actual grubby cash you have to dig from the bottom of your wallet.
- Money spent when you’re bored, celebrating, tired, sad or in a hurry seems to be a requirement, rather than an option.
- Inherited money is sacred and must be carefully invested, yet money given to you by a living person is easier to blow.
- A single note in a large denomination ($100) seems to be worth more and harder to spend than five $20 notes.
- Money in Great British Sterling seems more substantial (to me) regardless of the exchange rate, but put cash in a currency I don’t recognise and it’s suddenly monopoly money (especially on holiday)
- An expensive bottle of wine is justified because it’s ‘probably good quality’ and shows you have good taste. Which might lead you to scrimp on healthcare or boring necessities for yourself out of guilt, which might lead you to generously spend on treats for the family.
- Tend to buy clothes if the salesperson flatters you when you try them on? (She said ‘That dress was made for you! And I totally believed her, and I totally bought it. And it was totally wrong.)
- The phrase ‘unexpected cash bonus’ is more exciting and easier to spend than a ‘tax refund?’
- Enjoy staying in the dark about your own affairs because it’s preferable to the pain of seeing what sorry mess might be hiding under that rock? Especially when tax is involved?
- Self Flagellate over spending a lot of money on one day, yet congratulate yourself for spending the same amount on a different day purely because it was less than you could have spent?
- Mentally hand over responsibility for an area of your financial life to your partner without actually verbally discussing this decision with them?
- Think that any money spent on beautifying or maintaining your home qualifies as an ‘investment’ ?
- Do you start to suspect Vogue magazine has a point when it tells you that spending $1,000 on a wool coat that you will supposedly wear for the rest of your life is now also suddenly an investment….?
For the record, your home value might increase as a result of the new industrial pendant light fittings over your retiled kitchen. Or a future buyer might just rip it all out in 5 years time. Your new boiled wool coat and pendant lights might make you deeply satisfied on some level, but don’t bother dressing them up as anything else.
Getting clear headed about our money might not happen all at once. But we can at least start noticing when we are telling ourselves satisfying stories and start wondering why those stories are so satisfying?
And don’t beat yourself up too much. A little bit of crazy makes us interesting.