In the beginning of our series we presented the illustration that money disorders were addictive cycles that require deeper solutions than just gaining (or losing) more money. “Carl Jung once said that he considered addiction to be a low-level form of spiritual quest. The core of the problem, he said, was not with the substance. The substance was simply the symptom of underlying emotional problems-what he called spiritual imbalances. That is why addictions are progressive. The ante keeps being raised-because what is sought is not what is missing-so there can never be enough of it.” (p.27) When we think of the stereotypical drug addict or alcoholic we envision someone who constantly desires more drugs or alcohol respectively. However, for some reason we never look at people who constantly desire money in the same light.
The first money disorder we will examine is overspending which is by far the most “easily recognizable” disorder (p. 2). Because we never left the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality perpetuated by the cunningness of big advertisement agencies we have created a culture that defines success, happiness, and even self-worth through one’s possessions. This has led to an increased rate of compulsive shoppers, spenders, and debtors. The chart on the right helps illustrate this by stating that 52% of Americans spend more than what they earn. Of said 52% of Americans 21% of them have regular monthly expenses that are in excess of their income. This means that 31% of Americans spend more than what they earn even though their monthly income is greater than their monthly expenses. So why do so many people have this intense desire to buy so much?
At Least I Can Afford…
Gallen proposes that “spending and buying bind anxiety, giving a little ego boost, and provide the momentary illusion that all is well.” In-other-words, purchasing things allows us to compensate for other areas of our life were we may feel dissatisfied. For example, because celebrities are highly revered in society people will spend thousands to imitate their outfits/wardrobe, hairstyle, makeup, jewelry, etc. in order to receive that same reverence by their peers. Here’s another example. Imagine an argument between two individuals and someone saying “well at least I can afford…” This is another example of the all-is-well effect. The simple act of possessing a particular item compared to someone else allowed the individual to feel better than the person that did not have said item. You might be asking yourself, ‘well just because I purchase something that I like that makes me an overspender?’ The answer is of course not!
Spending vs Overspending
When it comes to having a well-balanced spending plan it’s all about prioritizing between your needs and your wants. Make sure your needs are token care of first; have something for your savings; and then of course take care of your wants. The problem with overspending is that because your possessions dictate your emotions your priorities also become governed by your possessions. That modest house or car that was in your budget is now replaced with that lavish house or the newer car that’s going to keep you in debt for years (nowadays decades) because buying stuff and using credit to live the life you expect goes right into filling you up with the sense of wholeness and well-being you were looking for. However, over a long enough period of time one of two things will probably happen. The first is that reality starts to kick in and you realize that living beyond your means takes its natural toll. The other thing that can happen is that money and spending and borrowing stop working to make things feel alright potentially causing you to get into more spending or borrowing to get that ‘rush’ back. For example, going back to the example of someone who uses drugs, after a while the effect of the drugs will plateau causing many people to increase their usage (overdose) to feel the effects again.
- Feelings of self-worth inordinately attached to money, power, or position;
- 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.
When it comes to these disorders every excuse is a good excuse to stay stagnant. There’s always a justifiable reason to overspend. Whether it’s because you want to buy the trendiest items for your children or stay-up-to-date yourself. Unfortunately, there’s always going to be newer phones, cars, televisions, clothes/styles, etc. There is always going to be someone who has something you wish you had. “When your sense of self-worth is entangled with your earnings, with the things you have, and with the impression that gives the world-then your feelings about those things will probably rule the day rather than any sense of planning or prudence. Keeping pace with your own self-regulated image of how you’re doing becomes a very demanding job” (p. 29). On that note we will end with this picture challenging the notion of success as it relates to our possessions.
In the next installment of this series we will dive into the world of Workaholics.
© Copyright 2015 Freedom Beyond Wealth All Rights Reserved www.freedombeyondwealth.com
Photo credits: http://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/Images/TSOL/Photos-Gallery/Business/2014/06/28/bizw_ach_2806_debtPDF.ashx/?w=620&h=413&crop=1&; http://cdn.trendhunterstatic.com/thumbs/overspending-statistics.jpegWe're Social! Connect with us: