Money on my mind

by Karabo Mashaba

Sorry to burst your bubble, but I’m not here to discuss Rihanna’s Pour It Up hit single or even pop culture in general. I am, however, here to give you some advice on ways to manage your finances and bring you a step closer to living that bad gal lifestyle.

Have you ever considered the reasons you perceive money the way that you do? If you’re like me, just the thought of spending is enough to give you a lifetime worth of stress. If you belong on the other end of the spectrum, “compulsive shopaholic” is your middle name. You view money as something that needs to be spent on the enjoyment of life which is true.

However, the line needs to be drawn between enjoyment and reckless spending. More and more experts are increasingly revealing that brain chemistry plays a significant role in controlling your financial habits. If we can learn to understand the psychological aspects of why we spend money, we will, therefore, be able to work towards changing our mentality and become a more financially savvy society. In light of this, here are a few useful tips that you can use to get you ahead in the money-saving game:

  1. Try to use cash instead of a debit/credit card

When you use cash, you have an emotional attachment to the physical paper and watching it decrease makes it even more painful to spend money unnecessarily. Handing over 3 R100 notes to the cashier is way more painful than swiping a card. Therefore, you will be forced to reconsider whether or not you actually need that item. Swiping your card feels like you are giving less. That’s why it is so much easier to do so.

According to Professor Drazen Prelec, who studies the psychology of money, credit cards can be very deceitful as they disconnect the pleasure of buying from the pain of paying. This, therefore, encourages compulsive buying, giving birth to more Rebecca Bloomwoods (if you know, you know).

  1. Avoid excessive advertising

This will reduce your likelihood of impulse buying. Reducing your exposure to this type of content will decrease what you think you need. The manipulative aspect of advertising reveals itself in its ability to keep you from thinking and instead, influences you to consume products based on an emotional response. Maybe the scenario described in the ad resonates with you or evokes certain emotions, you may have chosen to purchase something aesthetically pleasing over something functional or maybe that product reminds you of someone.

Either way, you have made an emotionally-based decision, rather than a logical one. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not calling you irrational. All I am saying is that there needs to be a balance between the two. When viewing an advert, ask yourself why this product is necessary. How would this solve a particular problem? The answers to these questions should also excite you, or at least make sense.

  1. Instant vs. delayed gratification

Have you ever thought you were extremely hungry and need something to eat immediately? It is quite easy to convince our brain that we need something to eat right there and then. It really takes time and practice to acquire the skill of delayed gratification. You will realise that after drinking a glass of water, you feel okay.

The same principle can be applied to money. Rather than purchasing that Chanel handbag immediately, wait about a week or two and decide on whether or not you still want it as much as you did. There will probably be another area of your life you will want to invest in. If you delay the things that you want to spend money on, you will be granted more time to think carefully about how you are willing to spend that money.

Achieving financial prosperity begins with changing your psyche and how you perceive money. Implementing these basic, but effective measures will get you ahead in the money-saving game. Why not start today?


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