Retail Therapy: “Money Drunk – Money Sober”

Occasionally I meet with people, usually women (sometimes “metrosexuals”) who have come to the realization that their spending is out of control.  They are “spendaholics”. A book: MONEY DRUNK – MONEY SOBER, does an excellent job of describing the phenomenon and offering a pathway to better balance regarding the spending of money.

“Out of control”, out of balance, spending is a form of addiction.  It is a behavior designed to enhance one’s mood by bringing temporary pleasure to soothe underlying pain, something missing in his or her life.  One client I worked with on this issue remembers starting her “unhealthy habit” back when she was ten and feeling unhappy and lonely.  She wrote in her diary at that time, “I had a great day – the purchases made me feel happy – in a weird way.”

In order to maintain their “spending habit” these people generally get pre-occupied with buying, tend to be secretive, sneaky, and isolate this area of their life from significant others in their lives due to an underlying sense of shame and guilt.  Sometimes they go to the other extreme and brag or show off their purchases. They are “hot stuff” and proud of it!  If the “outside” looks good enough maybe they can feel good on the “inside” – for a short period of time.  Another person calls this “golden handcuffs”.  It is  pathetic and pathological when a person needs excess money, jewels, clothes, etc… in order to feel good about oneself and can, therefore, feel better (competitive) with those who have less.

The book MONEY DRUNK – MONEY SOBER helps people look at their spending style and see why it is such an important part of their lives – pleasures filling up emptiness.  It truly is an addiction in the way that alcohol, drugs, food, gambling   etc…are a temporary “fix” covering up internal pain and/or low self worth.

Most spenders, however, are in some defense mode such as denial or rationalization and, therefore, won’t “own” the problem. Like any addiction, one has to “hit the bottom” by maxing out credit cards, having a spouse say “that’s it, stop”, get tired of their own deception, or get healthier.

If you are open to seeing if you or someone you care about fits the mold, this book will be helpful.  The book offers tips for spending more wisely, more open, and less compulsively. It takes a person with exceptional integrity and honesty to look in the mirror and admit the problem.  Sometimes a spouse’s perspective can be helpful in seeing the reality that exists. If the “shoe fits” read/share the book and develop an action plan that involves spending limits, communication, and accountability.


P.S. If you admit to this problem and work to change it, please don’t transfer the addiction to something else.  Deal with the root cause.



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