Heart vs. Brain – who decides?
I’ve become a huge fan of the Awkward Yeti cartoons, if you haven’t noticed already.
The concept is conversations between different organs of a Yeti’s body. Many of them are between the heart and the brain, and they capture our human tendencies so exquisitely, especially when it comes to how we handle our money.
The heart vs brain struggle reflects the decisions we make that are based on emotions vs based on facts. And it’s not like one of them always wins the argument. But these cartoons demonstrate the consequences of letting one or the other, heart or brain, emotion or fact, always drive the entire decision process.
Different personality types have more of a tendency to lean more one way or the other....more on the heart or more on the brain. If you’re not sure what your tendencies are, I recommend reading “The Road Back to You” by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile, to discover which Enneagram personality type you are. It will be very revealing about how you behave in a lot of areas of life, primarily in your relationships with others, but also in how you behave with your money.
Another good read in this area is Rachel Cruze's new book "Know Yourself, Know Your Money". It's specifically about your money personality.
The reality is that in most decisions, financial or otherwise, a proper mix of the two, emotion vs fact, is required to avoid bad consequences and reap the best rewards.
Here are some examples.
In spending decisions:
All heart: You buy first, and ask questions later. Seeing it = wanting it = buying it. Budget? What’s a budget?
All brain: Your budget is so strict, and so hard for your spouse to understand, that you can use it to deny the purchase of anything. The possibility of changing the budget to accommodate a new want might exist, but you won’t even entertain that idea.
Proper mix: You see something you’ve considered buying in the past, on sale at a great price. Or it’s something you know your spouse would dearly love to have. You’ve been saving for it, but you don’t quite have enough just yet. You go home and look at your budget, find a few places you can make some adjustments, and come up with enough that way to take advantage of the sale.
In giving decisions:
All heart: You throw money at every homeless person you see on the street, not seeing their brand new Nike shoes and high tech tent you were lusting after in the REI catalog recently. Or you enable your always-broke brother-in-law by giving him money, time after time, never asking questions about how you could better help him overcome his financial troubles.
All brain: You do your due diligence in investigating charities before contributing to them, but end up giving to nobody and no one because you always find some suspicious evidence of financial misbehavior. Your standards are so strict that literally no one can live up to them.
Proper mix: Instead of giving out cash to the homeless, you accompany them to the McDonald’s down the street and buy them a meal, then offer them a job mowing your lawn. In giving to charities, you look for causes that are important to you, then compare charities in that category to each other, giving to those that seem to have the best record of actually helping the intended recipients.
There are a million other examples.
It might be helpful to keep this heart vs brain struggle in mind, in a very conscious manner, when you have financial decisions to make. Just being aware of the two opposing tendencies can go a long way toward tempering your impulses in one direction or the other.
As always, I am available for a complimentary consultation about your particular financial situation. You can schedule it here: