Obsession can really take a hold of your life in terrible ways — you could worry whether the stove is turned off every time you leave the house and be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, be afraid of germs and wash your hands 100s of times a day, fear that your spouse is cheating on you, or spend all your hard-earned money on strippers, fancy cars and a dozen houses.
When it comes to spending more than you earn, your obsession with shopping can lead to excessive debt. Some men have to have all of the latest gadgets and electronics. Women might need a new $700 Louis Vuitton bag every season to go with her $1,000 Manolo Blahniks.
My point is this: An obsessive personality can lead to big financial problems. Recognizing the problem is the first step to recovery.
The Flip Side
On the other hand, some folks become obsessive in their debt repayment. They will cut every extra expense in order to free up more money to put toward their credit card debt, student loans or mortgage, sometimes at the expense of quality of life.
Don’t get me wrong — of course, paying down your debt is an excellent goal. But I believe in “everything in moderation.” Don’t pay down your debt at the expense of building up some sort of emergency or savings fund, at the expense of doing something for yourself every once in a while, be it catching a movie, getting a pedicure or enjoying a nice meal out.
Lakita of PF Journey mentioned in a guest post at One Money Design that she cut cable TV so she could pay off debt with “gazelle-like intensity.” I find this very commendable, but everyone’s situation is different. My husband would be lost and unhappy without his cable TV. We would rather save money in other ways, but that’s our prerogative. If Lakita is happy with her quality of life after eliminating cable TV, more power to her!
I’m not immune to obsessing over money. We finally have a nice chunk of cash in our savings account, and I’m sitting on my hands when it comes to putting some of it toward home improvements. We desperately need new living room furniture (the coffee table is still being held together with silver duct tape) and our kitchen has been a work in progress for 9 months –the white primer paint on the walls and the icky countertop really need to go. But I can’t seem to bring myself to actually spend the money to fix things up.
And I’ll readily admit that I’m not gung-ho on getting rid of our debt ASAP, other than our credit card debt (which is going to be wiped out this month; at least until we buy new living room furniture in a few weeks). Our car loan is at 0% interest for four more years; our 30-year mortgage is at 5% interest. Particularly with the mortgage, I know there’s no way Mr. Saver and I will be debt-free in the near future.
So while I obsess over SAVING money, I don’t obsess over PAYING OFF DEBT.
Everyone’s situation is different — what aspects of spending and saving do you obsess over?