Are your money problems just another illness?

Monday, August 19, 2019

In debt because you’re careless with your spending? It’s not your fault, you’re just sick.

“Mind Over Money” author Brad Klontz founded the Financial Psychology Institute and says “money disorders” cause recurring and self-defeating issues that people have with money.

He’s correct, of course, that problems with money are a symptom of deeper issues such as anxiety, depression or trauma that must be dealt with to achieve real progress.

The average American has $38,000 in debt, a quarter of that on high-interest credit cards, according to a report from Northwestern Mutual.

That’s up about $1,000 from a year ago, and that amount doesn’t even include home mortgages. And, the number of people who said they carry no debt this year was down to 23 percent compared to 27 percent a year previous.

After credit cards and mortgages, student loans and car loans are the next biggest debt burdens.

Most problems fall into three categories Klontz says: Money avoidance, money worshipping and relational money disorders, which results in more specific problems such as overspending, workaholism and pathological gambling.

We’re each personally responsible for our money decisions, of course, but regulations that allow high credit card interest rates don’t help.

Those can be traced to a decision by South Dakota back in the 1970s to eliminate usuary laws, attracting dozens of credit card companies to the state, where Sioux Falls has earned the nickname “Credit Card Central.”

Of course, individual Americans, who now hold a record $4 trillion in consumer debt, won’t get much help from the federal government, which is now officially $22 trillion in debt, and by other accounting methods, actually $118 trillion in the red.

Back-to-school expenses will quickly be followed by Christmas spending and never-ending pressures on the family budget.

Even if you’re not seriously in debt, now is as good a time as any to take stock of personal spending habits and make changes while there is still time to get in shape financially.

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