Money Dysmorphia: What Is It And What Are Its Effects?

Money dysmorphia: what is it and what are its effects?

I don’t know if it happens to you too, but I often have to decide between being a responsible person, or wanting to enjoy life and buy a flight to go away for a weekend.

The thoughts are usually “Lucía, you have to save to pay the bills”, as opposed to “Money is there to spend and I deserve it”. Apparently, it is something that happens to many people, that eternal debate between being a saver /and spend money on enjoyment and leisure.

However, this can be a real problem for people who suffer from money dysmorphia. Keep reading this article to discover what money dysmorphia is, how to know if you have it, and what to do to combat this psychological problem.

What is money dysmorphia?

Money dysmorphia refers to a psychological problem that involves mistakenly perceiving that we have more money than we actually have saved, which means spending it accordingly. As you can imagine, believing that you have more money than you can spend represents a serious financial problem.

This distorted perception of economic reality leads to making bad decisions, having compulsive behaviors and spending beyond means. Therefore, people who suffer from money dysmorphia may accumulate debt or have very low economic benefits.

In addition to the financial consequences, this problem causes psychological discomfort. These people tend to become obsessed with money, being rich, and constantly comparing themselves to other people (possibly with a higher socio-economic status). This causes them stress, anxiety and permanent dissatisfaction regarding their earnings.

The term money dysmorphia is not included in the diagnostic manuals usually used in psychology, such as the DSM-V or the ICD-10. However, the increasing incidence of this psychological and financial problem, especially in the young population, has created the need to coin this label.

Money dysmorphia and Generation Z

It has been observed that money dysmorphia occurs more frequently in young adults, such as those of us who belong to generation Z and millennials. This is due to a series of social factors that have occurred in recent decades, such as social networks, the culture of consumerism and success, and socio-economic changes, all very hand in hand.

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1. Social networks

Generation Z and millennial They are the first generations that are adults and have grown up connected to the Internet. And what does this have to do with it?, you may be wondering. Well then one of the great influencers in money dysmorphia are social networks and influencers.

The influencers They are figures with authority over young people, because they are charismatic people who have managed to succeed in their field and become famous. Added to this is that their content does a great job of advertising, explicitly or implicitly. In this way, the millennials and those of generation Z buy many products that use the influencers and they let themselves be carried away by current fashions.

It’s more, Like the influencers They are seen as role models, young people aspire to have the same lifestyle. Taking into account that most of the influencers They come from well-off families or have achieved a very good socio-economic level on their own; having the expectations of living the same standard of living as their idols can only lead to frustration with the economic situation and making bad decisions.

2. Current culture

Social networks are not the problem in themselves, but rather they are only a reflection of what today’s society is. In recent decades, what is known as the consumer society has emerged in the Western world, in which the priority is to buy and consume many products and services, even when they are not really necessary.

There is an obsession with buying more and more, and everything as long as it is of the best quality, and there is even social pressure around that. If you can afford to buy the best cell phones or the most expensive brand-name shoes on the market, You are considered in today’s society as a winner ; which implies that if you can’t buy them, you’re not one.

That’s why, especially young adults, they live with the expectations of becoming rich so they can buy everything they want. Social pressure leads these people to believe that they have the path paved by their parents and that they have the conditions to become rich (a more accessible education, an international vision of studies and jobs…), and that if they have not achieved it , they have failed. However, this is almost never the case.

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3. Socioeconomic changes

In addition to social networks and culture, the socioeconomic problems that have arisen in these years and the life expectations that we had since childhood are predisposing. We aspire to have the same standard of living as our parents or, where appropriate, better than them, which is why they have tried to guarantee us a future.

On the other hand, society has changed so much that it does not have the same conditions as 30 years ago. Everything is more expensive, even basic necessities, and yet salaries have gone down and the jobs are more precarious, unstable and in worse conditions. It is difficult to assume that we are going to live worse than our parents had dreamed for us. Some have not had that reality shock or try to cover it up.

What to do if I have money dysmorphia?

If you believe that you spend money beyond your means, you have debt, you are obsessed with money and being rich, you constantly compare yourself to others financially or you are dissatisfied with your financial situation; You may suffer from money dysmorphia. In that case, I leave you below a series of tips that can help you overcome this psychological problem.

1. Accept that you have money dysmorphia

The first problem you may have to overcome is recognizing the situation. When we do not accept reality, we suffer doubly. First, because you only perpetuate money dysmorphia and it can have increasingly serious consequences; and second, because in addition to the discomfort that the situation itself causes you, you add the discomfort of trying to fight against an undeniable reality: you spend beyond your means.

Consider the reasons why it has been difficult for you to recognize it until now. There may be something there on a deeper level, like you are not satisfied with your current life and are trying to lead one that does not fit your economic reality. If you think that it is going to be very difficult or painful for you to accept that you suffer from money dysmorphia, you can always ask for psychological help, so that a professional can make your path more enjoyable.

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2. Keep track of your earnings and expenses

The next step you can take is to write down your income and expenses in a notebook, in an Excel or in some program that is intended for this, that is, keep your own accounting up to date. Seeing it reflected in writing will make it much easier for you to anchor yourself in reality and study what you can afford to spend and what you can’t.

If you find it complicated or you don’t know how to do it, you can always ask for help. You can try our beloved Google, there are surely tutorials or templates on the Internet that can help you get started. If not, you can also ask acquaintances who you know keep a record of their financial activity, or go to financial counseling, where they can give you an action plan to improve your financial situation and your money dysmorphia.

3. Reduce your time on social media

As we have mentioned, one of the factors that predispose to having money dysmorphia is social networks. See how there are people who are traveling all the time, eating out, buying the best makeup, clothes or accessories… It can create needs and envy in us that we would not be so aware of if we reduced our time on social networks.

Keep in mind that, although social networks are a reflection of our society, influencers They only show what they want us to see. In their profiles they upload the best of their lives and what they can be proud of, because according to society, they are signs of success in life. Don’t focus on what you don’t have, value what you have achieved and it brings you well-being.