Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Boogey Man in My Wallet: Fighting Financial Phobias

Forget about the fabled boogey man in the closet or under the bed. Those are just dust bunnies. The real shadow creatures are the financial phobias that haunt my wallet and bank account.

"Identify Your Money Phobias." That's the sage advice from the February issue of Town & Country magazine, which has an excellent 12-page section on "Women and Wealth."

The article features the book "The Money Mirror," How Money Reflects Women's Dreams, Fears, and Desires from Allworth Press. Written by Annette Lieberman, a therapist from NYC, the book discusses women and our fears related to money. Many of the issues, however, are gender-neutral IMHO.

Here's Lieberman's rundown of popular money phobias held by women:

  • Money-blind: I call it willful financial blindness. When I exhibit these symptoms, I become clueless about my bank balance, credit card status, credit scores. In this state, I pretend that any grim financial news will go away if I ignore it. The cure: daily balance checks, weekly planning and baby-step goals.

  • Financial allergies: In this state, we view money as distasteful. Some women leave the nuts-and-bolts of finances to husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. Why worry about petty cash? (Women in this category believe that an interest in money, is "greedy or vulgar," according to the T&C article.) By the way, I know men who leave all household budgeting to their wives. The cure: Unfortunately, insight usually arrives with a rude hard knock. For example, the T&C wealth section includes tales of women who have been swindled out of investments, inheritance and other assets by "trusted" brokers, friends, husbands and other family members.

  • Money Deniers: Closely related to the "money-blind" phobics, this group includes women with rescue fantasies. Prince Charming can be anyone or anything: a man, lottery fantasies, inheritance anticipation, real estate sale expectations or other dreams of sudden wealth. The cure: Okay, I claim this phobia. I once believed in Prince Charming and I've had fantasies of sudden fame and quick wealth. But a string of personal and financial failures chased away my Prince Charming fantasies. I'm grateful. Failure is very instructive because by failing, I learned to stop waiting for pots of gold and rings of gold. I now have faith in hard work, frugal living and personal savings.

Other Financial Victims:

  • "Money-Folly" Spendthrifts: The emotional spenders.

  • Money-Paranoids: Obsessed about money, these women use wealth "as a fortress to keep themselves protected and insulated" from others. This is soooo not my issue.

This T&C list of phobias could be easily expanded. In fact, Mikelann R. Valterra, the author of Why Women Earn Less has another list of common financial phobias/patterns. Her list includes:

The Starving Artist: Summary: Don't be a sell-out. Stay poor; stay creative.

Noble Poverty Scenarios: Summary: Money is evil--"It is better to be good and poor, than rich and evil."

Related Posts:

Are You Frugal or Just Downwardly Mobile, in Denial or Just Poor?

10 Signs of Secret Debt: Borrowing Money, But Denying Reality

Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in June of 2008 by DPL Press



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