The Confusion of Money, Feelings and Language

What do you notice when you scroll through the following images…

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I could imagine it did not take you long to realize that color is a prominent theme throughout the following images. 

You see colors are dominant in life, but the incredible thing about them is – if someone had never seen a color before (or, you are trying to explain the color to someone who may be color blind), how do you explain what a color really is?

It’s like this Vsauce video by Michael Stevens (love these Vsauce videos): Is Your Red The Same as My Red?

Now, I know you must be wondering what does color have to do with money? – and just as Michael states in the video above:

“…color is created inside our heads.”

This is the correlation in terms of personal finance:

Like color, money can also be an illusion that’s created inside our heads. 

We share our stories, tips, strategies, pitfalls…and walk away thinking we have a mutual understanding. Oftentimes we do, but in reality – the way that I view money in my mind is probably starkly varying from how you view it in your mind (even if we have similar experiences). 

In Michael/Vsauce’s video, he also explains how failure of language can lead to misunderstandings. This is strongly prevalent through society:

  • When we have more money we’re supposed to feel happy.
  • When we are in debt we are supposed to feel down.
  • When we receive a windfall it’s supposed to be a pleasant surprise. 
  • When we incur an unexpected life cost we’re supposed to say “insert select choice word here” and turn to our emergency funds. 

…but does this language always have to ring true in terms of personal finance? Or, is it just that we have been exposed to the following way too many times that we are expected to feel this way for each situation?

Because on the contrary:

I have seen that more money can also lend itself to stress, because expectations of lifestyle inflation are always there.

I have learned that debt does not have to consume people, and that they can begin to feel more empowered to take control of their finances regardless of past situations.

I have experienced that an additional windfall can cause confusion because my mind battles between whether I should pay my future self, or live in the moment now.

I have read that people have turned their unexpected costs into joyous life lessons that have set them up for a stronger future. 

Now, how’s all that for confusion of money, feelings and language?


So let’s tie this all in here, because this may seem all over the board…

How we all view colors may be different in terms of perspective, feelings, and what our mind generates for ourselves. What can be incredibly vivid in color to one person, may be a few shades lighter to others. If neon color causes stress to one person, it could cause attractiveness and feelings of like to another.

Recognize that perceptions of colors are similar to the theme of what type of feelings and language are created around money to each person.

What you value spending and saving money for, may mean varying emotions to another. If indulging in the now brings happiness, someone saving for the later may feel the opposite. If winning the lottery would make your life, just know that someone feels investing & saving slowly will give them gratification. When learning of someone’s experience of debt, just know that even if you have not experienced it does not mean that your perception should be of hopelessness & powerlessness – they may be in a much stronger place than they have ever been. 

The important part is that we discuss with transparency what our feelings and language are in terms of money because we have been exposed to so much grey area.

That way we can all come to a mutual understanding without discrimination, disdain, confusion, or anger. Each one of us has our stories, and that is why personal finances become unique. When we can recognize the feelings and language around money void of confusion, we can then support each other on our journeys and pathways of life. 

When we eliminate confusion and find common ground, then we can bring colors to our conversations of feelings and language around money for a bright future.

Have you ever experienced confusion of explaining what money means to you in terms of feelings and language to others? How can we bring to light more color in our conversations to combat the grey areas we’ve been exposed to? There’s a lot to take in with this post – but I would love to hear your thoughts!



20 thoughts on “The Confusion of Money, Feelings and Language

  1. I just had a super crazy unexpected life expense where we had to replace a car that I’ll be talking about in my next few blog posts. We spent a lot of $$. While it sucks, it is good to know that we did have an emergency fund to rely on. Although it’ll take some time to rebuild our savings, we’re fortunate that we had that money available. A lot of others wouldn’t have been as blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, Vic! That is a big expense that can come quite unexpectedly, and I am so glad you were fortunate to turn to that emergency savings as well. There’s the part of finding the positive side to the experience & not allowing it to bring you down!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember my mind being completely blown in middle school when we learned in science that there was no actual way to know if your red was the same color I’m seeing as my red. Then we talked about how maybe everyone has the exact same favorite color (my orange, obviously), but we call it different things. I like your analogy. I also think when you add color to your finances, they become more real and more interesting. We keep them shady, gray and hidden. But when we bring them to life, add color, we realize we can personalize them to ourselves and make them work for us in ways that make us happy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it amazing?! The fact that you can still recall your middle school science class that your learned this is very incredible. That would be insane if we all had the same favorite color! I also just learned today, that in the past there was no such thing as the color blue – there was only “the sky” and “the ocean” – weird! I love your take on this, that bringing colors to your finances can tailor to your happiness! 🙂


      1. Awesome on the blue front. That’s a tough one to teach to tiny tots. You point to one blue and say “blue” and then they pick a totally different shade of blue and you go “Blue” – duh! Even though it’s totally different!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Alyssa! I love this analogy. With Tip Yourself, I believe it has the potential to reinforce a positive mindset in regards to Money. I believe it can shift money from a point of view of sacrifice and stress to reward and empowerment. There’s obviously a ton more to it that I can’t properly put into a blog comment, but I just wanted to say this is awesome! I believe it’s the core issue that affects many who view money as a significant source of stress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Mike – I appreciate this! 🙂 Bringing color to finances can definitely allow for reward & empowerment. Money becomes challenging when we view it in such a dark & grey way. I hope to encourage more people to move away from that!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cool analogy, Alyssa. I definitely experience a disconnect between how I feel and how others feel when it comes to student loans. I have such strong feelings of anxiety and regret about my loans, but other people will often say, “What’s the big deal? Student debt is good debt” or “You’ll pay it off in no time” or “Everyone your age is in debt”, and they can’t seem to understand why I’m so upset. Sometimes people will even feel this way about their own loans. It often feels like there’s this giant gulf between how I see debt and how they see it.

    Love the new site design! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sarah! The student loan situation is certainly one to bring a huge disconnect – especially when it is such a normalcy that students are graduating with a major debt load. It’s good that you’re upset! That gives you a motivation amongst others, but it’s one of those conversations that can be challenging between those who are just going with the flow, and others who are determined to pay off the debt. Thank you!! I’m pretty excited about it, it was time for a switch up. 🙂


  5. I remember that VSauce video! My husband is subscribed, so I catch them sometimes. I remember that I’d had a similar train of thought once upon a time. I realized that we’re taught colors based on our perceptions. So if someone points to a color and says, “This is purple” then that’s the label we use. Even if my brain somehow converts that color to red, I only know that color is called “purple.” Meanwhile people who can see the color correctly are *correctly* identifying it as purple. And so two people, seeing two completely different colors, both term it purple and think they’re viewing the same thing.

    And like you said, such are the limitations of language and understanding.

    I run into a problem a lot in talking to my ADD husband about money. To him, if we have it, then we’re okay. To me, if we have it, we need to save it for when we don’t have it. It’s a panicked mindset born of the fact that for so long we didn’t have enough — and we still cope with larger medical expenses than most people. Meanwhile, he just wants to celebrate finally being through the bad times.

    So while we’re both talking about how to finally enjoy being through the bad times, our conclusion is different: Save to celebrate vs spend a bit to celebrate. He often has to slowly erode my knee-jerk reaction to understand that he’s not asking to spend all the money, just some of it. And yes, we probably can afford it, within reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My fiance & I watch the VSauce videos quite often! They’re fascinating – takes me back to my middle school science days (except that we watched Bill Nye The Science Guy lol). It’s amazing that we label colors, and although the same ‘name’ does not necessarily mean it is the same color – even though it’s a mutual agreement! I’ve experienced that with my brother, because he’s been color blind so his “purple” is actually my “blue” and all types of examples. Or, I say it’s “green” and he says it’s “green” but the vibrancy is incredibly different.

      Varying viewpoints on money is something we will always experience! I am definitely the same way when, “Okay we have it, now let’s save!” Experiencing a more unique situation in terms of medical costs always changes mindset too (my dad was diagnosed with cancer over 6 years ago, and we still experience some of the financial happenings as a family).

      Your conclusion sounds like a great way to come to terms in agreement! It brings up an emphasis on delayed gratification and also enjoying the moment – which is something I completely dig. 🙂 If anything, the dialogue between the both of you is incredibly great (since most couples may shy away from any money conversations)!


  6. I’m pretty stereotypical – happiest when I have money and feel godawful being in debt.

    Agree with Abby / seattlegirl above: “To him, if we have it, then we’re okay. To me, if we have it, we need to save it for when we don’t have it.” So much this!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cool post Alyssa, definitely lots to think about. I think that’s why you often see new couples struggle in the beginning with finances. One can find the pleasure in the now and spending freely, while the other thinks only of the future and views that spending as frivolous and a waste. Their money blueprints are completely different.

    My coping mechanism when others are insistent on throwing ideas I disagree with, is to end whatever they say with the words “that’s your opinion” in my head. It’s helped a lot over time. So if someone says “Money is dirty” I would follow it up with “that’s your opinion” in my head.

    Our choice of words plays a key part in this and it’s been an area (choosing better, more abundant language) that we have focused on changing quite a lot over the past 5 years. I find money to be a fascinating game that you never truly master but can’t wait to keep playing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Family Money Plan, thanks for stopping by! You bring up a great point on new couples with finances and blueprints varying. It’s an ongoing topic to be addressed considering new life events will bring about different financial aspects to their lives.

      That’s a great coping mechanism! I’m sure it has prevented any heated discussions. It’s incredibly true that no one can ever master money, but once you find what works best for you, your family, etc. it can be very fascinating!


  8. I think my personal experience with debt has shaped the way I view being debt versus not being in debt. And having a lot of saving and investing money. I don’t think u was always this way. When I was younger there was a point where debt didn’t bother. Now I try really hard not to get into any and I kind of feel awful when you do. Our minds are a peculiar thing. Really good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pamela, thanks for the comment! I think being younger and in debt you face a lot of different challenges. In particular, trying to figure out what debt means – what does my interest rate mean? How long will this take to pay off? Should I pay more than the minimum? I’m at the point now where debt is unsettling, but when I had student loan debt I thought it was just “normal.” Has my mind changed since then!

      Liked by 1 person

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