How Your Feeling Brain Blows Your Budget – Part 1

Jason Zweig does a great job of explaining the two sides of our brain in Your Money & Your Brain. We have the “thinking” or Reflective side; and we have the “feeling” or Reflexive side. Our Reflexive side is used more often daily – it is our automatic pilot, or intuition. The reflexive, feeling brain knows your everyday life patterns – what to expect in typical traffic, flow at the coffee shop, etc. And when it sees a SALE sign, it can stop you in your tracks because it is a change.

Your Feeling Brain Likes Sales
Your “feeling” brain focuses on that change, and may override other thoughts, including your planned budget. It will subconsciously fixate on the 50% Sale number, rather than the base price of the item or even the fine print. Your brain automatically thinks you’re getting a deal on an item – when you might not be. The item could have a higher base price than competitive goods, or could be inferior quality. But your mind naturally focuses on the deal unless you force it to think harder using your “thinking” side.

Your Thinking Brain Knows if the Sale is Good
If we used our “thinking” side every day all day, we’d be exhausted, get nothing done, and make Starbucks lineups really really long! So it’s natural to use your “feeling” side to get through life. Just knowing how it operates can help you better manage your money. Once your feeling brain has stopped you in front of a Sale sign, try to use your Reflective/thinking side to analyze the deal, especially on significant budget or investment efforts. And if you can, try using it on one smaller item every day as quick check to ensure you’re still getting value for your money.

Carrie Rattle is a Principal at, 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:

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