How to Manage Your Money Emotions

In our post-recession world, it often pays to cultivate calm before making financial decisions.

Variety of emotional faces on yellow post-it notes

Visualizing your goals and sharing them with others can help you overcome the emotions that might prompt poor money decisions.

By + More

Here are some more tips on how to keep your emotions in check when managing your money:

1. Visualize. Like O’Connell, you might find that focusing on a visual image of your goal, whether it’s a home you want to buy or a city you want to visit, makes it easier to put the blinders on when it comes to daily temptations that could derail your savings goals. You can carry around a picture in your wallet, like O’Connell, or create a digital vision board and set it as your computer or phone’s background image.

2. Talk with your partner. Carver says spouses or partners sometimes don’t even realize they differ on their long-term goals, which can create conflicts when it comes to everyday spending. He says the key is working through those differences, either independently or with a financial professional, to come up with a shared vision.

3. Know how much you’re spending. You can’t start planning for your long-term goals until you know where you stand today, and Carver says people tend to “grossly underestimate” how much money they’re spending. He recommends looking at your tax return to get your take-home pay, then subtracting your savings. “Everything else is what you spend. It’s critical to figuring out where you are and where you want to go,” he says.

[See: 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Money.]

4. Do a “brain dump.” To help uncover what your long-term goals are, as well as those of your partner, sit down with a big piece of paper and write down all of your goals and wishes, Carver recommends. “People spend more time planning their next vacation than planning their retirement,” he says. Don’t make that mistake. Instead, take the time to make a plan and constantly update and tweak it, he says.

5. Share your goals with others. Research has shown that people, especially young people, benefit from sharing their goals with other people in order to get their encouragement and support, Sicchitano notes. “We test our decisions with friends,” he says, and we can benefit from their feedback.

As for O'Connell, she ended up​ traveling to see her boyfriend in Amsterdam before he returned home last month.