Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Feelin' Abundance, Feelin' Pinched

The psychology of money is as important as the actual bottom line - I am intrigued that financial facts are often not matched by financial feelings. Last summer I explored this in a series of "Feelin' Poor" tales, along with a counterpoint of "Feelin' Rich" stories, especially my so-called Two Fry Pan theory of abundance. (That post earned me the title of Two Fry Pan Bhodisatva ; a couple of my friends have been having a good time with that sobriquet.) It is well-documented that happiness doesn't flow directly from standard of living; material things contribute, but do not define, a sense of well-being.
when I carry more cash in my wallet, I feel more flush, period. Likewise, if there's more in our checking account, I feel safer. If we need to cash-out an investment to cover an expense, I feel a pinch - irrational, since from a strictly financial standpoint, keeping too much money fluid is a bad strategy. Hence the distinction between financial facts and financial feelings. I suspect that many affluent people induce a sense of financial anxiety by simply playing their finances too close, based on old habits. I don't think these feelings actually influence my purchases or behaviors, but they certainly impact my mood.
The flip side is accessing a sense of abundance by simple changes. The essence of my two fry-pan theory: it doesn't take much to make you feel great. We picked up some microloft sheets last year - essentially fleece, they are thick, incredibly cozy, and it it feels like sleeping on a cloud, especially when combined with a heated mattress pad. Since we keep our house very cold, I found I actually looked forward to getting into this wonderfully warm, soft bed. But sometimes they were in the laundry and we had to use our regular old- fashioned flannel sheets, which don't retain warmth nearly as well, and aren't nearly as soft. Bummer. After a few months of winter, I splurged and bought a 2nd set of the microfleece sheets, so we can rotate two sets. For $59.99, I improved the quality of my life every single night. I feel deep gratitude and happiness when I hit those warm, cozy sheets.
Crazy, huh, what makes us financially pinched (having less cash in our pocket) and what makes us feel financial abundance (warm, snuggly sheets.)
When do you notice your perception of your finances don't match the facts of your finances? Let's hear some other examples of how irrational we all are!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mine would be indulging in my favorite tea latte from Coffee Bean. I know it's not that expensive, but having it everyday would affect my budget. So I only get it on bad days when I need a cup of comfort :)