Does Your Love of Money Make You a Bad Decision-Maker?

Did you know we typically make bad decisions during high emotional responses? Research reveals once our emotional response is triggered, we make quick decisions rooted in emotion rather than thoughtful and measured choices. An emotional response, linked to feelings rather than facts, sometimes leads us to react in the exact opposite way we should!

We all (whether aware of it or not) have—on some level—a love of money, but 1 Timothy 6:10 warns this love of money is “the root of all evil.” The love of money (including the pursuit and protection of it, and the fear of losing it) works against the way research leads us to make decisions. If we heed Paul’s warning, we will strive to make better decisions regarding our investments and savings.

As recently as 2022, we began to see the effects of poor financial decision-making. Everyone hates to see a downturn in financial portfolios. Even for those years away from using funds, a 20% sell-off in your portfolio gives you real pain. The real damage is done, however, if a downturn leads us to change our investments or pull them out of the market. In trying to protect our money, we allow emotions to control our decisions. We run rather than stay the course, even though decades of financial statistics tell us staying in the market is the correct course of action.

Emotions negate what is probable and put the focus on what is possible. This is the reason so many people play the lottery. Whether the odds of winning are one in 10,000 (0.01%) or one in 7 million (0.0000143%), that doesn’t impact their decision to play or lessen their belief they have a chance of winning, especially when the payout is enormous. Their decision to play is based on desire, not data; emotion, not facts; possible, not probable.

While 1 Timothy 6:10 doesn’t necessarily refer to how we approach investments and savings, it is always fascinating to see the truth of God play out in different arenas. Allowing our love for money to control our decisions creates issues. We put money before God, focusing more on the possible than the probable. Removing emotions from money allows us to make financial decisions wisely as we remove both the fear of loss and the thrill of winning from the equation.

In and of itself, money is not evil. However, our love of it certainly leads to evil: greed, idolatry, and lust. Even mild “affection” for money can lead us into unwise decisions not rooted in truth and with detrimental results. How do we keep from loving money? The answer is not simple, because money affects every aspect of daily life. Our careers and jobs produce wages for living. We work for decades to provide for our families. We save and invest to live through retirement years. Money is necessary for the basic needs of living. When something carries such intrinsic importance, it becomes difficult not to desire it, chase it, and yes…love it.

How do we keep from loving money? Honestly, I don’t know. But acknowledging our love for money, however slight, helps us more easily recognize the pitfalls of emotional financial decisions. Perhaps understanding this human inclination to love money will, at least, slow down our decision-making and lead us toward more informed, logical decisions based on what is probable rather than possible.

This article was previously posted in the August/September 2023 edition of ONE Magazine.