Three common money disorders: Do you suffer from any of them?

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By Amit Kukreja


About three years ago, I was having an intense discussion with a money psychologist from the US, who is also a financial adviser. That meeting gave me another perspective on how to manage clients. It was then when I started to observe money behaviours in my clients. I noticed that as a result of distorted beliefs about money, that they may have developed from their life experience, some of them were showing the patterns of self-destructive behaviour or money disorders.

The interesting, and unfortunate, thing regarding money disorders is that they are more common than we would like to believe — prevalent in everyone, from the extremely poor to very wealthy. For the uninitiated, having a money disorder is a psychological state, wherein our belief patterns and attitude towards money is fundamentally flawed.

It is important to note that the problem isn’t money; it’s just that the symptoms of these disorders have money at their focal point. This is precisely why the solution for these disorders that deal with just money don’t often work. When we are faced with the symptoms of “money disorders” such as stacked up bills, collection agency calls or wanting things out of our budget, we start craving for more money, hoping it will be the solution to all our problems. However, that is seldom the case. These addictive cycles can form a continuous spiral, and keep you obsessing with money, and even lead to debt and depression.

Stocking up cash or valued objects: This is also called hoarding. It happens when you tend to stockpile money or objects in order to feel a sense of security while relieving anxiety. It can be seen as an exaggeration of an otherwise positive behaviour—saving—taken to the extreme. Some people hoard money, while others compulsively hoard objects of their interest—jewellery, gold bars and coins, unaccounted cash etc.

Hoarding isn’t about buying or spending, but about stacking up objects. Hoarders tend to feel a sense of completeness as these objects become stand-ins for what’s missing in their lives and develop a strong emotional meaning. While there may be a genetic component involved, most hoarders tend to have a history of childhood deprivation, abandonment, or even betrayal. Imagine the trauma that “hoarders” went through during demonetization when they were made to part with their hoarded money.

Compulsive spenders spend to manage unpleasant emotions such as depression, anxiety or low self-esteem. For compulsive spenders, retail therapy is the primary or only means of coping with stress.

Being a financial care-giver: Also called financial enablers, they are those who give money in a way that keeps the receiver from having to take responsibility or become independent. They have a sense of guilt (or shame) over their wealthy financial position in life as compared to their children or even the extended family. They could be carrying guilt or shame for not being a better parent in the past. Unconsciously they may use money as an attempt to make up for the mistakes made in the past. They may enjoy others being dependent on them. So they start to become “financial care-givers”. They feel compelled to intervene and bail others out of their financial responsibilities. Many parents in our country are keen to help their adult children as opposed to empowering them to deal with their financial woes. Many families are keen to help their extended families to stay socially connected for their self-esteem and confidence, as opposed to supporting them intellectually.

Source: Previously published on in May, 2019 | All views, thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author. 

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About Author

Amit Kukreja

Amit Kukreja

Amit Kukreja is one of the most prominent faces of the RIA community in India today. He ​appears​ on Zee Business’s ​​Money Guru, Mutual Fund Helpline and NDTV’s ​​Let’s Talk Money, ​​Manage Your Money, ​​The Property Show, ​​Property India, ​​Paisa Vasool, ​​Get Started in the Markets programmes to advise the viewers on their investments. He also writes columns for Mint Money, Business Standard, NDTV Property, Financial Planning Journal, & among others. View Profile

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