I remember the first time I received my ATM card, I was probably only 16. Just signed up for internet banking and was introduced to the world of online shopping. There was something about cashless payments that added on to that adrenaline rush of shopping. It almost felt like I was shopping for free, this being something new to someone who has always used cash for purchases. I would not deny that I was a compulsive shopper, who lived by the motto “Life is short, get both if you can’t decide.” A piece of advice I would dish out to friends whenever they faced the dilemma of having to choose between two outfits when we were out shopping together.
Fast forward to the present, it is the year 2016. I still indulge in shopping except it is no longer for myself but my son. However, I make sure that I also put aside a sum of money into the rainy day fund. Then the obsession with saving overtook my life. I became consumed with the daily checking of my bank account balance. I tried to scrimp and save as much as could till at one point, I was saving nearly 70% of my salary.
It wasn’t like money was an issue within the household but I could not stop myself from thinking of worst case scenarios and finding excuses to expand that emergency fund. What started off as a good habit, has slowly turned into an irrational obsession. I started budgeting my daily allowance for food and bills, to the extent that I would get stressed out and overwhelmed for not having sufficient funds left. However, it was not like I did not have the money spend, but the thought of spending the money seem to cause me such distress that I chose not to part with it.
Signs that you are getting an unhealthy obsession with your money would be :
#1 Checking your bank account several times a day even though you know there won’t be any changes to it.
#2 Setting unrealistic budgets and pushing yourself to stick to them even though you know you can afford to loosen your purse strings.
#3 Consulting your budget and taking a long time to decide on whether to make small purchases.
#4 Making miserable choices just so you won’t have to spend that much. Like ordering the cheapest item on the menu when you do not even like that dish.
#5 Withdrawing from family and friends because you do not want to go out socialise and spend money while doing so. Avoiding your family and friends and rejecting invitations to dinner or hanging out are red flags.
I am finally out of that dark place now by setting realistic budgets and allowing myself some freedom in spending whenever the need arises. And it felt like a huge weight off my shoulders to not care that much over my bank balance and where the money was going. I am not saying that we should overindulge and spend excessively. But being extreme about either ways; be it spending or saving, is simply unhealthy.
Recent world events have shown how unpredictable life.
Reasons why you should stop obsessing over saving.
#1 You do not know when you are going to die
#2 And when you die, you won’t be able to bring all the money with you. (Though we have decent insurance policies taken out to ensure that my boy is able to continue living a quality life should anything happens to us)
#3 The money isn’t worth such unhappiness because of #1
Further research online have also shown that my obsession with saving could possibly be a sign of a mental disorder. According to the International OCD Foundation, this disorder affects around 1 in 100 adults. Frugality is a symptom of obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) when a person “adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others”. Fortunately, my issue is not as severe till the extent of me needing therapy sessions to resolve it. I am just glad that I had managed to get out of this myself without putting a strain on my relationship with others.