Financial Anorexia

You surely have heard the phrase, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” I frequently refer to money in food terms (I.e. diversification is like having a balanced diet) and this morning, while thinking about the power of mind over matter, it dawned on me that, just like some people who suffer from anorexia see their body as never thin enough, Woman Stepping onto ScaleI wonder if some people suffer from a form of financial anorexia in that they feel they never have enough money. No matter what anyone tells them (including their financial planner), they do not believe they have enough. It’s a depletion of joy, really.

There was a remarkable documentary I watched last night about two 9/11 widows who started an organization that provides aid to widows in Afghanistan (www.beyondthe11th.org). One of the Afghan women asked to see photos of their (American) homes and the one American woman said she felt ashamed because she had so much and these women had, quite literally, nothing. It got me thinking about how some people choose to focus on what they don’t have rather than on what they do have. Despite the sorrow these Afghan women have known and the hardships they face daily, they all smiled as the American women spoke to them and all expressed their sympathy for the loss of their husbands.

Studies have shown the power of our thoughts. Whatever you focus on grows, whether positive or negative. I suppose focusing on the thought that you don’t have enough merely gives you more of the feeling that you don’t have enough. What a crappy spiral.

I started following Leo Babuata and his blog www.zenhabits.net. He has reduced his possessions to only 50 items. I love that and started seriously purging my house yesterday (so much for a day of rest) including a bag of pinecones I’ve collected over the years (does anyone else collect pinecones? I think they’re so beautiful, but I have too many. If you want them, let me know). pineconesContrast that against watching the tv program “Hoarders: Buried Alive,” and you see a clear argument for simplicity, but it’s not so easy because so many of our possessions have emotional components. Thankfully one of my best friends gave me permission to give away two of my deceased mother’s purses that I knew I’d never use (despite my penchant for purses). As I did, I realized how few things I really need and that removing these excess items from my home opened up room for what matters and what I want in my home: my family and friends.

I’m not sure how, but it’s interesting that this post started out addressing feeling like you don’t have enough and finished with thoughts about having too much.

“Whoever loves money never has enough money; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

Photos courtesy of ClipArt.

About Amy Jo Lauber

I help people who are overwhelmed take control & make good financial decisions with confidence and experience peace and abundance. Are you ready to say goodbye to working hard but not having anything to show for it? Go to www.lauberfinancialplanning.com "Let's Talk" tab to schedule your complimentary initial consultation and take the first step on the path to financial empowerment.
This entry was posted in Charitable giving, Money & Spirituality, Personal Finance with a twist, Psychology of Money. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Financial Anorexia

  1. Great post Amy Jo. I go back and forth on this all the time! Especially this question “will I have enough money in retirement to do what I want?”. Wow, and I don’t know if I could live with only 50 things (maybe if I was a guy like the one in your story), but I have met my goal of getting rid of 50 things (kinds of things–the total is much more if you count every item) in 50 days and I am on my way to my next 50. It feels good to see other people enjoying these things, and in many cases, I have to “imagine” someone else enjoying these things because I don’t know who actually ends up with them. The toughest items are things from my parents and youth, but if I look at what I have and what I really need, it gets easier. Glad to see I’m not the only one experiencing this.

    • Good for you Pat! As someone who enjoys the thrill of finding a treasure at a thrift store, I kind of feel like I’m paying it back when I donate items I no longer want to keep, and that helps. I’ve derived much wisdom from shows like “Clean House” and “Clean Sweep” in that my mother isn’t those purses nor is she in them. I think when we lose loved ones, we miss their tangible-ness (is that a word?) and keep whatever remains of their tangible existence.

  2. Pingback: Money and Calories – Forms of Energy that Confuse Us | LIFE: Live Inspired, Financially Empowered

  3. Katie says:

    I have this financial anorexia. I get a haircut maybe once every to years. I only order a free water anytime I go anywhere. I never get a value meal only $1 item of starving and away from home.

    I sometimes look around and I don’t understand why everyone isn’t like me?

    I try to give my kids a normal life though I feel I have to be the financial anorexic to give them a normal life. I still throw bday parties for them. I also feel it’s a parents responsibilify to pay for their child’s 4 year degree in full so feel i need to save at least 200k total for my two kids.

    If I didn’t have kids I think maybe I would not be like this.

    I even try not to buy ketchup as there are free packets everywhere. While not a hoarder (because I don’t buy new) I can’t let go of anything I paid money for but I don’t buy new so my house does not look like hoarders.

    I’m 36 and only owe 18k left on 240k house and have 83k saved for my kids college and 150k saved for retirement with not a penny of debt and our cars paid off. I don’t feel this is good enough. I feel like my house should be paid off and I should have at least 100k saved for college and 250k saved for retirement.

    There are lots of things I would love to have and focus on what I dont have versus do have each day. I live in misery over money not allowing myself to buy anything that vrings me happiness.

    I get mad when my husband gets a value meal because it’s $6 and feel he should get the $1 item or maybe two like me. I want him to sacrifice as hard as I do but he doesn’t so I feel like I have three kids. I always think if I just has this or that I would be better but even when I meet my goal it’s never better.

    • Thank you for sharing this, I hope you know you’re not alone.

      Ask yourself if being a financial martyr is truly benefiting you or your family. Despite what you’ve been able to achieve, there doesn’t seem to be any joy and there are a LOT of “should”s in your comments. I have found that when you know what is most beneficial, sustainable and joyful, the doubts and guilt of the “should”s drops away and you can move forward with confidence.

      I invite you and your husband to schedule an initial consult with me. ajlauber@lauberfinancialplanning.com

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