Compulsive buying and a constant desire to get things on credit aren’t a person’s fault. A stress hormone known as cortisol is responsible for the decision-making process: it worsens memory and reduces concentration, decreases self-control, and makes a person feel a bit like a zombie. Feeling poor has the same influence on the brain as a long night without sleep would.
Engineering Insider learned some of the signs of an unhealthy attitude toward money.
You stick to your parents’ behavioral pattern
If throughout your childhood you heard things like, “We can’t afford that”, “You must stick to any job you have”, or “We don’t print money,” it gets into your head on a subconscious level.
Our beliefs, including ones we take from our parents, influence our approach to how we do our jobs, what things to buy and at what price, and what lifestyle to lead.
Limits and deprivations in childhood make a person more inclined to feel stressed and depressed. Simple tasks look harder for them and even small obstacles can cause a lack of motivation.
You worry about what other people will say.
Do you know people who took a loan out to celebrate their wedding? Or that bought a dress that was worth a 2-3-month salary? Or skimped on everything to be able to invite 200 guests?
The actress Keira Knightley got married in a dress that had been sitting in her wardrobe for 5 years. And it wasn’t the first time she attended an event wearing it. But nothing bad happened! Relatives didn’t have hard feelings and neighbors didn’t stop wishing her good morning.
There’s nothing improper about having a luxurious wedding if you can afford it: maybe you have a high salary, a prosperous business, or a passive income. But if a family spends all their savings in one day or gets into debt, it’s a sign of a poverty mindset.
You set your priorities wrong.
The economists who study poverty believe that when a person is in a bad financial situation, they’re trying to escape their dull and boring life.
Maybe that’s why in India, up to 40% of the family income is spent on holidays and religious rituals. In America, people used to buy steak and lobster, paying for these things with money from welfare, while in Morocco, villagers bought DVD players and had cable TV, but ate only bread with sweet tea.
A person who thinks they’re poor starts to put themselves below others. To prove their income, they buy expensive presents, treat guests with the last of their money, and get a smartphone on credit for 3 years.
You relieve stress by going shopping.
People in a difficult financial situation are under extreme stress. Cortisol production increases after a year of such a life. It influences memory, concentration, and certain ways of thinking.
Feeling poor has the same influence on the brain as a long night without sleep. A person makes bad decisions like buying things with credit, buying useless stuff, and forgetting to pay the bills.
Self-control decreases not because a person doesn’t want to improve their situation, but because of the high cortisol levels and the lack of concentration caused by the financial problems.