Money can be the source of a lot of problems in your life. For instance, incompatibilities with spending and saving can hurt a perfectly good relationship in the long run. Being in a ton of debt can do a number on your sense of wellbeing. How you feel about money can get pretty complicated. If your finances are impacting your life in a negative way, you may have a money disorder.
Many people will deal with some kind of money problem in their lifetime, but money disorders take it to another level. "Money disorders are really self destructive patterns that drive self-limiting behaviors that are associated with money," Adamaris Mendoza, LPC, MA, financial expert and psychotherapist, tells Bustle.
According to Mendoza, these patterns and behaviors are usually the result of distorted beliefs about money that we develop from early life experiences. For instance, if you grew up in a home where your parents struggled to make ends meet, you may overwork yourself in order to make sure that doesn't happen to you.
It's important to note that the term "money disorder" isn't included in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As Amanda Clayman, Prudential’s financial wellness advocate and certified financial therapist, tells Bustle, "It's fairly controversial in clinical practice, but there are many in the field who are strongly advocating for better understanding of money disorders, and for standardized diagnostic criteria, so that these can be included in future treatment guides."
When Clayman asses for money disorders, she specifically looks for evidence of "maladaptive behavioral patterns based on distorted, rigid beliefs." So here are some signs you may have a money disorder, according to experts.
1. You Can't Define What Having "Enough" Money Means
It's common to feel like you'll never have enough money. But someone with a money disorder will not only feel like there isn't enough, they'll have trouble defining what "enough" actually is to them. Because of that, Clayman says they'll result to controlling, hoarding, or earning more to the point that it causes conflict in their relationships or impacts their overall health and wellbeing.
2. You Keep Credit Cards And Bank Account Information From Your Partner
3. You Keep Piling On Debt
Racking up a few credit card charges here and there is common. According to Messier, it can even help you score long-term savings. But continually building up debt without paying debts you already have is a serious issue. "Loan and credit card payments can take up a considerable portion of your income, and missed payments will deal major damage to your credit for several years, making it difficult to rent, secure loans, and more," he says.
4. You Avoid Spending Money At All Costs
It’s easy to assume that money disorders are all about spending problems. But that's not always the case. "These conditions may also appear as an inability to spend without feeling guilt," Messier says. "If forking over even a few dollars feels like a major mental hurdle, you could be dealing with a money disorder."
5. You Use Money As A Way To Fill A Void
If you're using money as a means to feel loved, fulfilled, recognized, or important, then there's a major problem. According to Agnes Kowalski, wealth therapist, this means that you're projecting real intellectual and emotional needs onto a material thing like money. Unfortunately, these are needs that money can't fulfill. "Money cannot take the place of intimacy and love," she says. "If you are using money to experience those things, it's dangerous. It's not real and will ultimately end in disappointment."
6. You're Living In Extremes
Anything that's taken to the extreme isn't good. "Whether it's hoarding or spending, if you are living in extremes then money is being used as a scapegoat for deeper issues," Kowalski says. This shows that money has become an obsession to you, and it will have an effect on your health, relationships, and wellbeing.
7. Your Life Is In Chaos As A Result Of Your Spending Habits
When you have a money disorder, your life may be in chaos as a result of your spending habits. You'll feel like your life is out of control and you may even feel helpless about your situation. "If your behaviour with money is creating chaos in your primary relationship with yourself, there's a problem," Kowalski says.
8. You're In Denial About Your Debts
If you find that you try to avoid dealing with your finances and evade money problems, you may have a money disorder. "As your financial issues increase, you'll find yourself burying your head deeper into the sand," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. Some may even avoid looking at their bank statements at all.
9. You're A Workaholic
"Money disorders are best characterized as a combined emotional and spiritual imbalance that creates a propensity to engage in problematic money behaviors," Erika Rasure, Ph.D., assistant professor in the online MBA in financial services program at Maryville University, tells Bustle. Besides compulsive buying and hoarding, Rasure also says that "workaholism" is another major sign of a money disorder. Working and making money is the center of your entire life.
10. You're A Pathological Gambler
Gambling falls under a subcategory of money disorders called "money-worshipping disorders." It's the same category that workaholism and compulsive shopping fall under. These behaviors are typically used to temporarily "fix" problems such as anxiety or or voids within a person's life. In doing so, Rasure says it will only have the opposite effect. "You'll feel out of control with your problematic money behaviors and struggle to find the surface to let yourself breathe emotionally," she says.
11. Having Money Makes You Feel Guilty
Feeling guilt or shame around having money is a sign of a disorder. According to Mendoza, this is usually caused by low self-esteem. Some may even become workaholics in order to feel like they earned the money they have.
12. You Find It Hard To Say No When People Ask For Money
If you have to sacrifice your financial wellbeing in order to help someone else, you may have a money disorder. If you have a healthy sense of self, you should have the ability to say no even when your closest friends asks you to loan them money. According to Mendoza, this is a form of "financial enabling," which is common between families and friends.
13. You Give People Money Even If You Know You're Enabling Their Poor Financial Choices
Financial enabling is another subcategory of money disorders that's common between parents and their adult children. Temporarily helping someone out is one thing. But if you find yourself giving into someone's requests for help with rent money or bills even if you know they're fully capable of doing it on their own, you are being a financial enabler. It's a disorder that typically stems from feelings of guilt.
14. You Lie To Your Partner About How Much You Spend
If you feel the need to lie or minimize how much you spend to the person you trust most, that's a problem. According to Mendoza, "Some people even go to the extra lengths of taking on mortgages, additional credit cards or even jobs to keep the increased spending a secret."
15. You Refuse To Talk About Money At All
Money isn't always the easiest topic to discuss. But sometimes getting on top of your finances means asking for help. "But if you have difficulty merely talking about money, and won’t even listen or discuss things with those they truly trust in life, there's a problem," Allison Vanaski, CFP, co-owner of Arcadia Wealth Management, tells Bustle. This could mean you're in denial and you're refusing to take responsibility for your actions.
It's important to keep in mind that not everyone who likes shopping or has a ton of credit cards has a money disorder. According to Vanaski, there's usually emotional issues that accompany these behaviors that need to be worked through. That is, if you're willing to put in the work. "Advisors can’t just swoop in and fix a money disorder," Vanaski says. "People can only be helped if they are ready and willing to ask for help." You don't have to let money control your life. You can turn things around.