My Hormonology

Like you’ve probably done at some point, I recently made a couple of big, risky purchases that required me to weigh the pros and cons…then weigh them again…and then yet again to make sure what I was spending my money on was really worth the gamble.

I mean, let’s face it–when you don’t know if the educational program you’re signing up for, product you’re buying or investment you’re making will pay off, it’s scary to part with a lot of cash.

Then again, you don’t want to miss an opportunity you may never have the chance to take advantage of again or that happens to be perfect for this particular time in your life.

Since at some point you’ll likely be making another big money decision and have to choose between risking it all (or at least a lot) or playing it safe and keeping your cash in your bank account, I thought I’d give you a little insight into how where you are in your monthly cycle can impact a risky financial choice.

See, while you probably base a risky financial decision in part on the outcomes of similar past experiences, what friends and family advise, how others have fared in situations like this one, online reviews or what your hunches are telling you about which way to go, what you may not realize is that your hormones are likely also influencing what kind of choice you make with your money, too.

How so? According to a 2013 study in the journal Games and Economic Behavior, researchers found that throughout most of your monthly cycle you’re prone to making conservative money moves.

On one hand, being cautious is good because it can protect your assets (for instance, by helping you avoid investing your life savings in a company’s stock that ends up losing all its value). On the other hand, being too cautious can end up costing you money (for example, by making you miss out on an opportunity to join friends in a business venture that winds up going global).

However, there’s one phase in your cycle when the types of decisions you make with money changes dramatically: During the latter half of your Week 2 (approximately 10 to 14 days after the onset of your period), you’re more likely to take risks with your cash.

Just like with the conservative approach you take during the other parts of your cycle, this financial mindset has its benefits (say, because it prompts you to invest in an educational program that propels your career) and it can have its downfalls (for instance, because you decide to put all your chips on red at the casino).

Why the dramatic change in the way we manage our money across our cycle? The researchers theorize that during the fertile phase of our cycle we adopt more risk-taking behaviors because it helps us find a healthy, virile partner in time for ovulation at the end of our Week 2. This tendency to take risks on these days just happens to affect more than our romantic lives, prompting us to throw caution to the wind in other areas, like money.

It may also be that high estrogen on these days reduces our fear of regret from losing, so we make more confident money moves.

If true, this would mean on non-fertile days of our cycle, we may be more worried about the emotional toll of making a bad money choice (like remorse, self-recrimination and feeling like a sucker) so we become more cautious.

So, what’s the take-home message from all this?

The next time you’re making a major money decision, consider where you are in your cycle along with all the other factors.

If you’re in a phase where you’re likely to make conservative financial decisions, consider whether it’s more beneficial to be bold.

And if you’re in a risk-taking phase of your cycle, consider whether it’s more beneficial to curb that impulse and play it safe.

This one extra step can end up making all the difference to your bank account.