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Liz Weston. The high price of money is a shame

The rate of suicide in the United States has risen sharply in recent years, and money-certified trainer Tammy Lali from Washington is convinced that the shame of money is a contributing factor.

Lali’s brother committed suicide in 2007 after receiving a confiscation notice. Shortly afterwards, Lali’s mortgage business collapsed in the Great Depression. He says he filed for bankruptcy after driving a Mercedes and living in a house on the ocean.

“It blew me away, the level of pain and sadness I was experiencing,” says Lali. “I did not tell anyone. “I was pretending nothing was happening.”

He finally realized that he felt ashamed. A deep feeling that he was completely flawed and unworthy because of his financial problems. As he changed careers to become a financial advisor, he began to notice how pervasive those feelings were. Some customers were ashamed of their debts or property. Others lived beyond their means or “hit hard” by collecting labels in restaurants or constantly rescuing others.

“I see that each of my clients is ashamed of their money,” he says. “We live in a culture where our money is our value.”

The sources of the shame of money

“We were not born to know how to manage money,” he said. In addition, there are many factors beyond our control, such as the economy, industry trends, and unemployment.

Although very often, people feel that something is deeply wrong with them if they are struggling with their finances. They may feel that they are stupid, immoral, lazy, or “bad with money” or think that they should do something else.

“When we make money wrong or things happen to us, we try to internalize it, to make it really personal,” says Brian-Podwin, “Solving Financial Anxiety.” “If you beat yourself up, it’s a good sign that money is ashamed.”

The shame of money can lead us to overspend on “holding back the Joneses,” avoiding our finances, or criticizing hard-working people, says Edward Coombs, a certified financial programmer and marriage’s family therapist in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Shame drives us to reason,” says Coombs. “Because when we see other people struggling with something, it makes us uncomfortable.”

Many therapists and researchers say that shame is different from sin. We feel guilty when we do something wrong, but we feel ashamed when we believe we are bad or deeply flawed. “People may believe they are so flawed that they do not deserve to be loved or connected to,” says Coombs. In extreme cases, this can lead to suicidal ideation.

“It’s a shame to lose a relationship,” says Coombs. “It tells you that I am not worthy, I have no value in a relationship with either myself or another person.”

Shame և suicide

Suicides rarely have one cause; researchers can only speculate as to why suicides are rising and falling. Studies show that suicides increase with unemployment, and a 2020 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that financial stress is a significant risk factor for suicide attempts.

But over the past few decades, the suicide rate has risen in both good economic and bad times. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate increased by 35% from 1999 to 2018, before falling to 14.2 suicides in 2019 at 13.9. Statistics for 2020 are not yet available.

Lindsay suggests that income stagnation and growing economic insecurity may be contributing factors. Combs notes that the suicide rate among men in the United States is three times higher than among women, which may be due in part to internal pressure to be “suppliers”.

“Men struggle more with their mental health (after financial setbacks) because they tend to associate their self-esteem with their income or net worth,” says Coombs.


These are all terrible things. But suicide is preventable (National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255), and the shame of money can be alleviated, say financial therapists. The first step is to recognize how you feel.

“The first և most pragmatic work is being able to name it,” says Coombs. “Having a language to describe experiences will help alleviate distress.”

He can also get support. Lindsay says that the ability to discuss the shame of money with a trusted person can help you feel less alone.

“Many people think they are the only person in the world or the only person in their community who has felt ashamed of money,” Lindsay said.

Can you help yourself to be compassionate, to seek lessons from experience? Ask yourself what you can learn or what you can do next time.

Lali turned her experience into a TED talk, which was viewed more than 2 million times. “Let’s talk honestly about our money problems” մասին about the book “Money Detox”.

“I did not know its name until it happened to me,” says Lali. “And my mission is to make people talk about it.”


This column was provided to the Associated Press by the personal financial website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist for NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Unit”. Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston:


National Institute of Mental Health. Suicide Prevention https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

NerdWallet. How to manage money stress over COVID burnout http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-covid-burnout


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