Expecting Money is better than Receiving Money

Yes, believe it or not. Our brains get more excited about the money we expect to get – from a bonus, a lottery, a promotion – than when we actually receive it. How many times do you spend that expected reward in your head? A little goes here, a little goes there, some goes in the savings account – until we’ve probably spent it 2 or 3 times in our mind. The anticipation builds and it feels good.

Money is a Reward
Peter Kirsch, a neuroscientist states that the association between money and reward is very strong. And rewards stimulate us through our reflexive brain – the “feeling” side of the brain. Sure it’s great when the money is actually received, but it’s more like a fait accompli. You’ve already mentally allocated it, dreamed about it, and felt the adrenalin rush.

Rewards are Addictive
The catch is that we get such a thrill anticipating money as a reward; we seek it over and over again. This is where the danger lies. People addicted to the thrill of money gain gamble or play the lottery religiously, looking for the next emotional high. Investors look for the next potential Google stock and compete for issued stock of new public companies. For many of us, we forego future savings for immediate rewards -just for the high.

So next time you have money coming your way, separate the pre-money high from the reality. Enjoy your dreaming, treat yourself to a percentage of the reward, and ensure your reflexive “thinking” brain sets aside money for the future as well.

Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a web site for women focused on the mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence. Thoughts always welcome: carrierattle@behavioralcents.com.

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