‘Money phobias’ come in many varieties

Annette Lieberman and Vicki Lindner take a hard look at what they perceptively identify as “money phobias.” Their book, The Money Mirror: How Money Reflects Women’s Dreams, Fears and Desires (Allworth Press, 1996), fits men, too, when it comes to the ways each of these fears may affect you or someone you know.

Moneyblindness: These people don’t allow themselves to see their financial lives at all. They close their eyes to money, considering not really there, unreal, vague. They find it anxiety-producing to look at their financial situation. They often delegate money management tasks to others and avoid serious thought or conversation about money. They might leave money machine receipts all over the bank floor, or pile up unopened mail and bank statements.

Moneysqueamishness: They believe that wanting money is “greedy” or “corrupt” and that talking about money is “tacky.” This attitude is culturally instilled. In their eyes, to want a lot is selfish or greedy, although most secretly lust after money. Women are expected to be more moneysqueamish than men.

Types of individuals Lieberman and Lindner see in this category include Financial Virgins, who associate money with inappropriate desires for sex or food; Weaker Vessels, who believe money will corrupt their life or work; Genteel Poor, who keep their needs to a minimum and may practice voluntary poverty despite a secure financial position; and Money Martyrs, who think it is morally superior to be victimized financially and to be champions of the poor.

Moneydenying: They regard the need to earn money as a strictly temporary state of affairs, the imposition to be suffered until they are rescued. They “plan” on being rescued financially by someone — THE ONE or an inheritance. They usually spend everything they get, don’t take money-earning seriously, and think money should be glamorous and exciting. They don’t plan for retirement.

Moneyeluding: They want to get rich but somehow are paralyzed and unable to achieve their goals. Often they cannot decide what work will be right for them, yet still hold out for the “right one.” They can never be satisfied by a job; there’s always something wrong with it. They fear risk and success. They may see themselves as lazy or undisciplined, but fritter away potential earning time. They may chalk it up to “low self-esteem.”

Moneyfolly: They blow their money or give it away. They can’t keep it for themselves. It can be a common trait among adult children of alcoholics. They spend in a quest for emotional goals; it’s a kind of medication. They view their resources as inexhaustible and are unable to calculate how much real money they have to spend. They see budgets and spending plans as punishments for spending too much. They usually have excessive debt—usually on credit cards.

Moneyparanoia: These are the hoarders, building a money fortress between them and people who might want to rip them off. They solve emotional dilemmas by maintaining financial control at any cost, even if it is totally unnecessary. They may be obsessive savers or very much into material possessions. They don’t enjoy any benefits of having saved money. Their friends call them “cheap.”

Moneyconfusion: They can’t separate money from their emotions and can’t see negotiation as a game. They have a terrible time asking for a raise or raising their rates. They would rather take care of their opponents’ needs. They tend to personalize money and financial institutions. They rarely have concrete financial goals.

And if that’s not enough, Lieberman and Lindner point out that few moneyphobic individuals suffer from only one phobia!

Do any of these apply to you? Or to someone close to you?

Did your parents display any of these phobias? If so, which ones?


3 thoughts on “‘Money phobias’ come in many varieties”

    1. Me too. At the moment I’m walking through shopping for a used car. Thankfully, my elder daughter is holding my hand, figuratively speaking. I think we’ve found the right one … but she’s insisting I try out a few more. Ahh!
      I think of it as another bonding moment.

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