When you hear the word “disorder” I bet you probably envision a celebrity spokesperson talking about some new pill, prescription, or disease. But what do you envision when you hear the phrase “money disorder”? Broke college students, single parents, people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods…the stereotypes are endless. The unfortunate truth is that financial or money disorders run rampant throughout every facet of the world from the very poor to the extremely wealthy. How is that possible? Well, despite the word ‘money’ in the phrase “money disorder”-the increase (or decrease) of income is not the actual problem but rather our unhealthy relationship with money that sparks these disorders.
What Are The Money Disorders?
According to the work of author Ron Gallen’s book, The Money Trap, there are four main types of money disorders that everyone expresses throughout their life. These disorders, listed below in no particular order, classify individuals as:
Money Obsessors and
Gallen describes these money disorders as the “emotional and spiritual imbalances that express themselves as continuing problems with money and work. The problem is not money; it’s only the symptoms that are about money. The underlying causes of the symptoms run deeper, more to the emotional and spiritual realm. That’s why fixes that only address the money problems never work. It is similar to treating someone with appendicitis only for their pain. Morphine will take care of the pain, but without surgery for the underlying condition, the patient usually dies.” (p. 2) This is a powerful revelation about our personal finances. Once again: The problem is not money; however, when we are faced with money disorder “symptoms” such as piling bills, collection agency calls, or desiring things that maybe out of our budget we start to become lustful for getting more money believing it will be the solution to all of our problems. Gallen continues by describing these disorders as obsessive addictive cycles that “form a continual loop in your mind taking up a huge amount of time and psychic space worrying and obsessing about money and debt and work.”
Surface vs Deep Fixes: Diets
To better illustrate money disorders as addictive cycles let’s use a brief example of someone going on a diet. Imagine your friend asked you for help in their pursuit of losing weight. The obvious solutions you would suggest would probably be exercise, dietary changes, portion control, etc. However, as time goes on you realize that your friend has not had any significant weight loss-in fact, you noticed that whenever your friend was upset he/she drowned his/her sorrows by binge eating a tub of ice cream and other fatty foods. You confront your friend about this and now he/she realizes that trying to lose weight was just a topical fix. The real (deeper) problem was your friend’s response to stress by binge eating food. Money disorders operate in the same fashion. A lot of today’s companies develop plans that may tackle your debt or help you prioritize your spending (ie surface fixes); however, they ignore the signs that trigger your abnormal spending in the first place (deeper fix).
Are There Any Warning Signs?
Every addictive cycle has warning signs; unfortunately, the warning signs pertaining to money disorders are difficult to distinguish as abnormalities because they are so common place in our culture. Potential warning signs that you may have a money disorder can include:
- Preoccupation with money;
- Having no time for anything but work;
- Fantasy that a certain amount of money well end all problems;
- Feeling like there’s never enough;
- Chronic envy;
- Trouble with creditors;
- Trouble with the IRS;
- Afraid of the mail or phone;
- Inability to earn enough to meet your needs;
- Inability to pay above the minimums on credit card balances;
- Erratic work history;
- Fear of financial insecurity;
- Having employment that doesn’t seem to fit your talents or goals;
- Feelings of self-worth inordinately attached to money, power, or position;
- Obsessive involvement with investments, savings, and strategies for financial security.
As you can gather from the list above, these money disorders are psychological issues stemming from the fear of money as opposed to simple plans pertaining to budgets or investments.
Don’t forget to continue reading as we continue our series on money disorders discussing other warning signs pertaining to each specific disorder. Because everyone is different, there is no blanket solution to solve everyone’s problem; however, we hope that with enough education we can provide the groundwork for you to reevaluate how you look at your personal finances. In our next article we examine what makes someone an Overspender.
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