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9 Symptoms of an Unhealthy Relationship with Money


How would you describe your relationship with money? What does that even mean, exactly?

If money burns a hole in your pocket, you can’t figure out where it goes, and you don’t understand how to invest it, I’d call that an unhealthy relationship. Like Billy Bob Thornton & Angelina Jolie unhealthy.

Conversely, if you are a good steward of your money, are saving and investing according to a written investor policy statement, and have learned to spend with intention, that’s a healthy relationship.

There’s a lot of space in between, and the nine symptoms described below will help you better define what your own personal relationship with money looks like. I still struggle with number two.

Today’s guest post was submitted by Emma Thomas. She describes herself as a Millennial body with a Boomer soul who writes about money-saving and personal finance.




9 Symptoms of an Unhealthy Relationship with Money


Do you have a love-hate relationship with money? Different people feel differently about money. Sometimes you feel confident about your financial situation. Other times you feel guilty about the money you spend.

Some of us enjoy looking at our bank accounts, while some feel dreaded. Your relationship with money depends upon how you treat it. Whether you consider it your trusted friend or something that causes frustration, fear and guilt.

The good news is, no matter how unhealthy your relationship with money is, you can always take steps to improve it. However, to make that happen, you need to identify the habits which are causing you to overspend or preventing you from spending even on your basic comforts and necessities.

In this article, we are going to discuss the symptoms that indicate you have an unhealthy relationship with money. But first, let’s discuss what is a healthy financial relationship.



What is a healthy relationship with money?


When we read the word “health”, nutrition, exercise and good sleep are what comes to our mind. We never consider money a part of our health. The truth is, to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you need to have a healthy relationship with money.

You need to consider your financial health as an important component of your overall wellbeing. If you want to develop a healthy relationship with money, you need to identify the problematic habits you have built around money over the years. Once you have identified these problems, it will get easier for you to manage your finances in a better way.

When you have a healthy relationship with money you are:

  • Intentional in your spending
  • Have reasonable or low debt
  • Saving to achieve your monetary goals
  • Investing in an emergency fund or insurance


Our spending habits stem from our childhood. The believes we learn about money as a child stick with us forever. Our beliefs regarding finances are what drive our financial behavior.

This makes it important for parents to cultivate healthy financial habits in their children. Doing so, they can prepare them to manage money in a better way as they enter adulthood.


How to improve your relationship with your finances?


Now you must be wondering how to enhance your relationship with money. The answer is simple.

Just like any other relationship in your life, you can improve this relationship with love and compassion. If you want to build a healthy relationship with money, you need to love it no matter what the circumstances are.

When you invest your love in a relationship, it improves. The same is the case with money. You need to honor your money the same way you would respect and cherish any other of your relationships. This will improve the bond you have with your finances.

Having a high salary doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the healthiest relationship with money. Having an unhealthy money mindset causes you to make poor financial decisions. Your relationship with money can turn toxic without you even realizing it.

So, let’s discuss the signs that indicate you are in a toxic relationship with money.


Symptoms of an Unhealthy Relationship with Money:


Following are the symptoms of a toxic relationship with money:


1.     Worrying about not having enough money:

If you constantly worry about not having enough money, it means you suffer from a scarcity mentality. This isn’t a good way to teach your kids about frugal living.

When you cultivate this type of mentality in your kids, they feel guilty while spending over their basic comforts. Therefore, if you want to spend over something extravagant, never worry that you don’t have enough money.

You can rather think about using it in a better way. This way you can learn that your decision shouldn’t depend upon whether or not you have money. It should rather be based upon your needs.


2.     You feel guilty when you spend:

Hoarding money and never enjoying what you can buy with it is one of the most toxic financial behaviors. To develop a healthy relationship with money, you need to perceive money as a tool that enables you to live your life to the fullest.

To feel less guilty about spending money on your basic needs you need to keep the amount to be saved aside as soon as your salary is credited. Once that’s out of the way, you need to spend money to meet your basic necessities.

If you are left with some money, you can purchase that vase you have been eyeing for or save it to buy something bigger the next month.


3.     Thinking you need to have a certain amount of money to be happy:

Your happiness should never depend on the money have or do not have. One of the most critical traits of an unhealthy financial relationship is to pin down your happiness on the money. This way, you set yourself up for disappointment.

To build a healthy relationship with your finances, you need to be contented with what you have. If your money can buy you what you need, you don’t need to believe that a specific amount of money will make you happier.


4.     Blaming different circumstances for your sorry financial condition:

There are several excuses which we give ourselves for being in a poor financial situation. From being born to poor to being swindled by a loved one, we blame our circumstances for being in a sorry financial situation.

There is no denying in the fact that everyone has his own set of cards to deal with in life, however, putting the entire blame on circumstances without making any effort to improve is one of the most toxic behaviors people have with their money.

No matter what your financial situation is, you should always work towards improving it. If you want to have a good financial life, you should never give up.


5.     You resent the rich:

People with poor financial status often resent rich people. The majority of the time, they are even suspicious of their source of wealth. If you want to be financially stable, you need to stop looking at what others have.

If you aspire to be rich one day, you need to let go of the default perception about the rich being evil. Don’t waste your energy in resenting those with money. Learn from their experiences instead and adopt those habits that took them where they are today.


6.     You pretend as if you don’t want to be rich:

This relates to the point we have discussed above. When we perceive that the rich have earned their wealth through dishonest means, we give ourselves an excuse not to prosper in life.

We start believing that wealth can only be earned through suspicious sources. This way we give ourselves an excuse to remain where we are standing financially.

You need to understand not everyone who’s rich has earned his wealth the wrong way. You need to take inspiration from self-made billionaires and make them your role models.


7.     Spending prematurely on luxuries:

Another unhealthy trait most people with a toxic relationship with money have is spending on luxuries too soon. They spend over a luxurious item or service as soon as they get their first paycheck.

Once you spend over something that is a mere luxury, your basic needs suffer. To overcome Americans spending habits, keep the law of delayed gratification in mind. Only buy a luxury if you can afford to pay for its ten pieces.


8.     Falling victim to financial scams:

If you keep getting attracted to financial scams, it means you have an unhealthy relationship with your money. It is like staying in a relationship with a partner who abuses you.

Before investing in a financial opportunity, you need to see if its too good to be true. If that’s how it is, it’s more likely a scam. Don’t trust everything you find on the internet.

Be smart with your money. Conduct proper research before deciding where to invest.


9.     You always have an excuse for not being able to save:

It is hard to get where you want to be without even trying. No matter how much you earn, you can save a little every month. You might find it hard in the beginning.

However, once you start saving, simply peeking through your bank account will motivate you to save more. You need to automate your saving habits without comprising your basic necessities.


How do I know if my relationship with money is unhealthy?


The better you treat your money, the more you get in return. If you display any of the above-mentioned behaviors, you may have an unhealthy relationship with money.

Don’t worry! You can change these habits by being intentional in where you spend your money. Once you find the right balance it will become easier for you to manage your money without compromising your necessities.



Having an unhealthy relationship with money can wreak havoc on your financial health. Therefore, you need to learn to spend in moderation. You need to be careful where you are spending your money. However, make sure your basic needs are met.



Do you have a healthy relationship with money? Which of the 9 points do you struggle with? Disagree with any?

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5 thoughts on “9 Symptoms of an Unhealthy Relationship with Money”

  1. Love this post. Well done on recognizing these things. Prior to finding out about monetary prosperity, I unquestionably was at legitimate fault for every one of the 9 of these side effects. Presently, my general prosperity is such a ton better have eased these sentiments.

  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. I lived my younger years with a scarcity mindset because times were tough back then.

    Those frugal habits have persisted far beyond the need, although it did assist in becoming FI. I don’t think I am extreme about it, but a couple of friends have kidded me that I don’t need to be quite so tight with a buck anymore.

    I guess my question would be what’s the boundary between healthy and unhealthy frugality? I eat healthy food, keep my thermostat at a comfortable temperature, pay for health/car/homeowner’s insurance, and don’t feel deprived in any way. And my horses are well fed and get any necessary veterinary care.

    The one habit I am trying to break is trying to DIY so many repairs and work around my farm. Some of this stuff just isn’t worth the effort anymore. And I’ve started splurging on feed/hay delivery.

  4. Extremes in either direction are bad. We all know that spending too much is a key to financial downfall. But a lot of folks in the FIRE path, myself included, can go into the opposite extreme direction and then have an issue with spending money on anything.

    Financial deprivation is a lot less talked about issue as people try to FIRE faster. There are plenty of blogs touting how frugal they are. But are those people happy doing so? Saving money for the sake of saving money is not a win in my book.

    Money is a tool and as a tool it should be used appropriately to make one’s life easier/happier. There is no reward for being the richest person in the graveyard.

    • Agree. As long as you are reaching the goals you set out for yourself. Everyone has different financial goals. Some choose to achieve them with extreme frugality, others earn more and have better balance. We are all about achieving our goals, and enjoying the ride. We could save more, but we want to both enjoy the journey and the end game.

  5. Love this post. Congrats on identifying these things. Before learning about financial well being, I certainly was guilty of all 9 of these symptoms. Now, my overall well being is so much better just have alleviated these feelings.

    I would also add that having a scarcity mindset with money is a major sign of an unhealthy relationship. This is alluded you in just about every part of your list but is likely important enough to separate out. When we are scared of money, we always think that if someone else makes $1, that’s $1 less that we can make. Not how things work. Money is abundant. Try to take an abundance mindset.

    Great read!

    The Prudent Plastic Surgeon


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