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Money Disorders: The Psychology of Money

This past week I attended a seminar about the psychology of money. Learning about different types of money disorders helped me understand how important financial literacy can be to avoid or manage credit card debt.

If your money disorder has led to debt, contact ACCC for help.

If your money disorder has led to debt, contact ACCC for help.

Money Disorders & How We Handle Debt

A lot of “ah ha” moments were experienced at this seminar. We were asked to write down how our parents and grandparents handled their money and how we handle our money. For me, I have the exact same money philosophy as my parents. Others found that they have the exact opposite philosophy.

It also came to my attention just how big of a part money plays in our lives and how being educated about consumer debt and budgeting could help to balance out some the challenges from money disorders. Professional help is another key part to this as well.

The most important thing I took away from the seminar is how many money disorders there are and how common they are in our society. Money disorders can be grouped into the following categories: money-worshiping, money-avoidance, and relational money disorders.

Money-worshiping Disorders

  • Overspending may be the most common disorder in the U.S. It is defined by excessive spending in which often significant credit card debt is incurred to the point where immediate and long-term financial needs are neglected. Over spenders are often trying to achieve feelings of safety, comfort, affection, and wholeness. Excessive spending can be on themselves or others.
  • Compulsive Buying is overspending on overdrive. It’s chronic and repetitive purchasing as a result of negative feelings. The buying is done to provide short-term gratification when negative feelings arise. it is frequently associated with other mental health struggles such as anxiety, mood disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse.
  • Unreasonable risk-taking with money is putting one’s money at risk for large, but unlikely gains. An extreme example would be taking money from a child’s college fund and gambling it all away at the casino.
  • Hoarding is the accumulation of a stock pile in an attempt to find a feeling of safety or security and relief from anxiety. Hoarders are often over spenders or compulsive buyers. Hoarders are emotionally attached to their belongings and become overwhelmed at the thought of getting rid of them.
  • Workaholism presents itself as an inability to regulate work habits and using work to avoid most other life activities. People who struggle with workaholism may believe that more money and more of what money can buy will make them happier and prove self worth. The more they work, the more money they have, the better life will be.

Money-avoidance Disorders

  • Financial Denial is when one minimizes money problems or tries to avoid thinking about them rather than face reality. An example would be ignoring bank statements and credit card bills rather than managing credit card debt.
  • Financial Rejection is a feeling of guilt over having money. This disorder usually presents itself in people who have low self-esteem. they feel unworthy or undeserving of anything good in life, including money.
  • Under spending is when one has plenty of savings/money yet they keep themselves “emotionally poor” by refusing to use their money for any type of enjoyment.
  • Excessive risk-aversion presents itself as a irrational fear of taking any risks with money. It’s more than just being conservative it’s an actual fear of taking financial actions. Just the thought of making a big purchase, such as a new washing machine, can bring on paralyzing fear.

Relational Money Disorders

  • Financial Infidelity involves someone deliberately keeping secrets about spending or finances from his/her partner.
  • Financial Enabling often results from attitudes and beliefs that equate money with love. Someone who is a financial enabler feels a need to give money to others even at the expense of their own financial well-being. Often parents are financial enablers to their grown children.
  • Financial Dependency is when someone refuses to take responsibility for their own financial well-being and remain financially dependent on others. Financial enabling and financial dependency go hand in hand.

Obviously, I am not a psychologist. I am just relaying information from a seminar. If you feel like you might have one of these money disorders, you may want to consider debt counseling services.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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