Understand the Emotion in Your Financial Decisions


But because we aren’t walking, talking algorithms, we’ll almost always need to take emotion into account.

We’ll almost always need to weigh financial decisions by both the numbers and how we feel.

Seeing the emotion in our investing decisions may seem like a small thing.

Learning to understand it though is huge for future goals.


For instance, think about the reasons you own the investments you own. I suspect more than a few of you have at least one investment, maybe more, that makes no sense.

Unless you consider your emotional attachment to that investment

Maybe it’s stock from an old employer.

Maybe you bought Apple because you really love your iPhone.

Whatever the investment you bought, you’re probably holding on to it for emotional reasons.

When you step back, you have a really hard time identifying how this individual investment fits into your bigger plan.

But you can’t bring yourself to let it go — at least not yet.

I get it. 

I really do.

After all, I’ve just highlighted how we aren’t robots and how the way we feel plays a role in our financial decisions.

That said, we also need to understand how emotion can stop us from making smart decisions.

We need to be aware that liking an investment a lot may not be enough to justify owning it.

On top of that awareness, we need to remember how our strong emotions may lead us to make a mistake.

Pause for a minute and think through a big financial decision you made based mostly on emotion.

Maybe it turned out great, but I’m betting that you made more mistakes than you expected.

Even if things turned out O.K., I’m also betting that afterwards, you wish you’d done a few things differently.

If so, you’re not alone.

I’ve done it.

Your friends have done it.

But our goal is to avoid repeating it.

I suggest thinking it through in two steps. calculator coin money save debt

Weigh how you feel about an investing or financial decision.

Then, ask someone you trust, with no direct connection to the outcome, what they think.

If the person you trust suggests the opposite of what you want to do, take a deep breath and work through the reasons why.

You may still end up doing exactly what you planned to do.

But having this check-and-balance in place can help you see potential issues.

You are most definitely not a robot.

That said, there’s no reason for emotion to stop us from making good financial decisions.


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Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner and a columnist for the New York Times, Morningstar magazine and Yahoo Finance. He is author of 2 books, The Behavior Gap & The One-Page Financial Plan. Carl lives with his family in Park City, Utah. You can find his work and sign up for his newsletter (which has an international audience) at www.behaviorgap.com/

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