Money Disorder: What It Is And How To Deal With It

Written by: Kayla Harris


If you spend too much, live beyond your means, get into debt, you constantly need money now, then you are probably used to considering yourself a lax spender who simply does not know how to handle money. But your behavior may be a sign of a real money disorder. We tell you how it manifests itself and what can be done with it.

What Is Money Disorder

Brad Klontz, professor of psychology, believes that any financial behavior that leads to destructive consequences can be considered a money disorder. In other words, you are not just earning less than you could but doing things that seriously affect your life, health, relationships with loved ones, and career.

In the US, money disorders can be found in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, a classification of mental illnesses created by the American Psychiatric Society.

At first glance, it may seem that the symptoms of a financial disorder are only squandering or, conversely, stinginess. But in fact, they are much more diverse. Here are the signs that psychologists distinguish:

  • You prefer to avoid talking about money. You do not admit to anyone that you have problems and even prefer to tell your loved ones that everything is fine.
  • You suddenly start spending significantly more or significantly less than before. However, there are no objective reasons for such changes.
  • You are abusing credit cards. For example, you systematically pay with them even for basic purchases like groceries. Or take out a new credit card to pay off the debt on the old one. This behavior suggests that you have been ignoring your problems for quite some time, and now they have taken on a dangerous scale.
  • When you think about money, you feel anxious and depressed.
  • You get irritated or withdraw into yourself when they try to talk to you about finances.
  • You have lost weight or, conversely, gained weight. Constantly feel tired, and do not sleep well.
  • You work much more than usual, stay up late at the office, and take work home. You cannot relax and unwind, and you constantly feel the need to get even more money.
  • You hardly force yourself to spend money even on really necessary things, and after each trip to the store, you get upset for a long time.
  • You often make impulsive purchases beyond your means and feel guilty afterward.

How Money Disorder Looks Like

All manifestations of monetary disorder experts combine into several groups.

Compulsive spending

That is a painful addiction to shopping and an irresistible desire to go shopping. This condition is also called shopaholism, and it affects about 6% of people. Before making a purchase, a person feels uplifted and inspired, and when the money is spent, he feels immensely guilty and depressed.

Hoarding and extreme savings

Here the situation is exactly the opposite. A person is obsessed with the idea of accumulating as much money as possible and, at the same time, is terribly afraid to spend even a penny. In the most severe cases, such pathological accumulators, having impressive amounts in their accounts, sleep on a bare mattress and rummage through garbage dumps.


Surely there are a couple of people in your environment who proudly call themselves workaholics and consider this a positive quality. But real workaholism is a pathological condition that causes a person to become obsessed with work and earnings. Work becomes a real addiction, and the one who suffers from it overloads himself, cannot rest, and constantly experiences anxiety.

Financial Lies

A person deceives loved ones and provides them with incorrect information about their income, loans, savings, and spending because he is afraid of condemnation and feels strong discomfort when talking about these topics.


This story is typical, mainly for very wealthy people. It happens that they overwhelm their loved ones and children with money and instantly rush to solve any of their problems - even if no one asked for it - and as a result, they do not allow them to take the initiative and learn how to earn money on their own.

Financial dependency

Reverse situation. Due to fears or infantilism, a person does not earn money himself (although he may well do it) and completely shifts the responsibility for his provision to someone else, for example, for a spouse or parents. This does not apply to cases where the family consciously decides that one works and the other looks after the house and children.

Financial Indiscretion

Sometimes this behavior is even called financial abuse. The bottom line is that parents involve their children in their material problems and provide information that, due to their age, is not yet necessary for them to know. For example, they constantly complain about the lack of money, admit that they can be fired, or ask the child to communicate with collectors. Since children in this situation are completely helpless and cannot earn money on their own, they experience great stress and do not feel safe after such requests and statements.


A person simply ignores all his financial difficulties and pretends that they do not exist. Because the thought of problems is too painful for him, in some cases, such "deniers" throw out bills without reading them and drop calls from the bank.

How To Get Rid Of Money Disorder

Since this is not a diagnosis, but it has quite a few variants and manifestations, each case needs its own approach. But there are also some general recommendations.

Acknowledge The Problem And Try To Solve It Yourself

You will have to admit at least to yourself that your spending, debts, or, conversely, extreme savings can destroy your career, relationships, and family. And these problems make you constantly live in anxiety and stress, lie to loved ones, and run from collectors. In the end, no one but you will fix this situation.

This means that it is you who will have to analyze your financial situation, write out all loans and unreasonable expenses, think over a debt repayment plan, and start keeping track of income and expenses. If this is too difficult to do on your own, it will not be superfluous to contact a financial advisor.

Walk 12 steps

There are many groups of anonymous debtors or anonymous spenders. They work on the basis of the well-known 12-step addiction recovery program and, with the mutual support of all participants, help to overcome money problems and form healthy financial habits.

Ask for help

For example, tell everything to your loved ones who can listen to you and support you. Or contact a psychotherapist who will help you understand where your unreasonable spending, addictions, and other problems grow from. And at the same time, it will tell you the way to financial and mental recovery.