Bad money habits are reversible. As you get older, you use your frontal cortex—the rational, decision-making part of your brain—at a much higher frequency than when you were younger (and prone to making impulsive purchases). So the science is on your side! But just in case, here are our favorite strategies for smart spending.Your Locus of ControlDo you think of your behavior controlling your fate, or your fate controlling you? Or maybe you feel somewhere in between about your locus of control, depending on the situation. If you have a strong internal locus, you probably feel like you’re steering your career. Maybe you even employ others to be productive in their own right. What about when you have an external locus? That’s when it’s easier to blame your boss or the bad weather for whichever negative things you’re encountering.
What Makes Us Impulsive?
When we take risks in stocks, at casinos or on expensive purchases, two brain networks are operating. The socio-emotional network (yep, it’s sensitive to social and emotional stimuli) and the cognitive-control network (which executes the planning ahead and self-regulation functions).Ever wonder why teens don’t think twice about dropping 200 bucks on a new tech toy, where an adult will go to great lengths to plan which gas station saves more pennies per gallon? Adolescents have a socio-emotional network that shines, while the cognitive-control network gains strength over time. Another reason to embrace the beauty of maturing!
Of course we exhibit both kinds of these loci. A sure way to reduce stress and feel more beautiful is to tip the scale toward the internal locus. What would that entail? Telling yourself that you have the power to love your job, create a better world, handle tough tasks and make more money.QUIZ: Life Satisfaction Your Emotional IntelligenceLoads of factors affect how you feel about your work and finances. One of the big influencers is how you are able to think with your emotions to manage your actions. Yes, we are hardwired to react, not think, with emotions. It’s obviously a good thing—it’s what your ancestors used to get you here.Patients who undergo strokes that knock out their emotional centers can no longer make rational decisions. Case in point: We need the emotional center of the brain to make rational decisions. Emotional intelligence is broken down into four skills that can help you cope with stress.ID-ing emotions: Tangibly identify what you’re feeling—make sure to look deeper than surface-level reactions. Let’s say you’re jealous of someone’s success. Ask yourself: Are you truly jealous or just upset that you haven’t achieved what you wanted to?Facilitating emotions: When you feel multiple emotions, think about different points of view to help you solve problems. From our jealous example, identify your obstacles and figure ways around them, rather than letting the jealousy derail you!
Understanding emotions: Emotions aren’t black and white. We all experience complex chains of emotion. We can learn to understand and even change people’s emotions, be they bosses, coworkers or customers.Managing emotions: This skill doesn’t mean hiding your crying until you get to the restroom. Rather, it’s what lets you figure out whether an emotion is appropriate, so you can solve problems that are emotionally based. Next time you’re feeling jealous, you’ll be able to harness that emotion more quickly, to better manage your feelings and behavior.MORE: What’s Your Emotional Intelligence?Once you get comfortable with this foundation for your stressor-control, you can tackle your unique problems. It’s useful to distinguish between the two decision-making processes: controlled/thoughtful vs. automatic/emotional/impulsive. That’s because many decision-making problems (especially with money) happen when there’s a tug-of-war between the two.Some decisions are clearly impulse buys (great purse!), but more often than not, our financial decisions are a mix of the two. For example, you probably bought your home with a controlled and thoughtful process. The reason you fell in love with it was more weighted by the emotional than the autonomic part of your brain.