I presented a seminar last week along with a colleague. My portion of the seminar was titled “The Psychology of Money”. I had a woman write me a private note stating that she is constantly buying things for people and giving people money (giving, not loaning) to the point that she often ends up with not enough money for herself. This kind of behavior is more common than she knows, but typically its victims are women more often than men. Let me explain.
I think women over-help for a few different, valid reasons.
First, they can seek to help others to be thought of favorably in others’ eyes and, possibly, to ingratiate themselves if, by chance, they may need to call in that favor someday.
Second, we’re natural nurturers; we like to take care of things, people, places etc…but over nurturing may be a sign of a desire to control the person and/or to insinuate that the person we’re “helping” isn’t capable of taking care of him/herself.
Third, we may feel undeserving of love and respect, and use our efforts, time and money to build a relationship – shaky as it may be – with someone.
Fourth, we may not have a good relationship with money; we may view it as evil and having it means we are greedy. Since we can’t accept that description of ourselves, we give the money away – get rid of it – so that no one can call us selfish or greedy, not even ourselves.
I’m sure there are more reasons but the bottom line is this: Nothing good comes from it. If you succumb to this behavior, you will only come to resent the person you are helping while, at the same time, enabling that person to remain dependent upon you rather than giving him/her the opportunity to develop their own skills and abilities.
So, how can you stop this? Well, I’d suggest meeting with a licensed therapist, I’m only a financial planner, after all. (I can provide joint sessions with a licensed counselor, however.) But once you’ve gotten the behavior corrected, I invite you to come meet with me so we can determine what beneficial ways you can use your money and, if that includes sharing it with others (family members, friends, charitable organizations) we can talk about that, too, and how you can accommodate that particular goal while also respecting the importance of your own financial stability.
You can only continue to give if you continue to have something to give.