Our finances can be afflicted by the same seven deadly sins that affect the soul. Let any of them take over and your financial wellbeing is going to suffer.
I've been swapping notes with Sorted.org.nz's blogger Tom Hartmann about how they manifest in our wallets and savings and some of the best ways to avoid letting them take control.
Humans can be overconfident. Just take driving. Around 90 per cent of us believe we are better-than-average drivers, says Hartmann. Yet only half can be. The same goes for money. Typically we overestimate our abilities. Yet we're not all that good with managing our increasingly complex income and expenditure.
It's not at all uncommon to meet people who are convinced they know more than professional investors such as KiwiSaver managers. The antidote to this is to be humble and accept that you need to upskill, wherever you are on the learning curve.
It's very easy to fall for teaser rates, sales, or even get-rich-quick schemes. Greed also gets us to do things like "spaving", which is spending to save, which sometimes means spending more.
That's what happens to Hartmann when he buys more beer on sale. He just drinks more. No savings made. Giving generously is the antidote, says Hartmann. Looking out for others makes us think differently about what we buy.
Lusting after things you want but don't have is letting your emotions overrule logic. The trouble is, as neuroeconomists point out, the human brain isn't logical. Hartmann cites friends who ask him what his next big purchase is going to be.
"They are thinking about the status," he says.
Yet if he delays gratification he gets more pleasure out of whatever it is he buys in the end. Sometimes others may be justifying their own spending if they can convince us that whatever it is is a need and not a want.
"We are not what we have and not what we buy. We need to make (spending) decisions based on our plans, our goals."
Envy is about keeping up with the Joneses, says Hartmann. It's assuming everyone else has more than you. But you can end up with more in the long run by saving money.
Concentrate on satisfaction, says Hartmann. Thankfulness for what you have already helps avoid impatient financial decisions, impulse buying or crisis borrowing.
Gluttony comes from a lack of self-control and planning. Trust me, I want all those shiny things I see when I go into a mall or a Mitre 10 store. I want a petrol-driven leaf blower, top-of-the-range fire pit, Weber BBQ, a new phone, electric bicycle and so much more.
Modest earners who can rise above the gluttony gene are often the ones who can afford to buy more than others with the same earning power in the long run. Beware of assuming that people who buy stuff have the money to do so. Planning is the temperance, says Hartmann. That's planning for everything from the weekly shop to your long-term financial goals.
It can be easy to blame others for your financial position. Your husband, your wife, your parents, your children, your employer, society, the government, or all of them.
If your locus of control is internal you will think you can influence events in your life. If it's external you may blame others.
Patience is the antidote to this one. Take control and save a little every day and watch it compound slowly but powerfully over time. Don't fall for checking your returns hourly (daily, weekly or monthly). Wait for the long-term gains.
The sloth procrastinates. Their "get around to it tomorrow" approach to personal finance is a problem. They don't plan. They don't budget. Or if they do, they don't actually do anything different as a result of their budgeting.
"When it just reinforces our behaviour, it's a fail," says Hartmann.
The antidote is to be diligent and take action. Learn about the value of running numbers, research, due diligence and not cutting corners.
Of course no one can ever master all of these. The more self-awareness you have the greater your financial wealth in the long run.