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Is debt an addiction?

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    Is debt an addiction?

    I have been lurking on these boards for a while, and just decided to sign up because I have an important question I would like to ask about debt and to get all of your opinions.

    Do you think that debt is an addiction? I asked this question because I have a friend to continues to get in debt time and time again and no matter what I try, nothing seems to help. It's as if she doesn't want any help. Is the only solution for me to wait until she hits rock bottom and decides for herself that she wants to get out of debt? Or are there steps that I can take to help her see that she needs to tackle this problem that she will actually listen to?

    The more and more I think about it, and all the things that I've tried in the past that she has ignored lead me to believe that debt has a lot of similarities to addiction. I want to help, but I'm beginning to think that there is no way for me to help if she doesn't want it herself. Is the best thing for me to just sit back and wait until she comes to her own conclusion and asked for help, or is there some way that I can do an intervention to help her solve the problems that she has?

    I don't think debt is an addiction but spending certainly can be. Many people end up in debt because they are shopaholics. They spend money to try and fill some void in their lives. That makes them fell better momentarily and when that wears off, they spend some more. They end up with closets overflowing with clothes and shoes and bags and stuff that they never use, never even take the tags off. So I don't think it is the debt that they enjoy. I think it is the acquisition.

    And no, I don't think you can help someone who isn't seeking help.
    Last edited by disneysteve; 04-25-2012, 04:18 PM.

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.


      I totally agree with you Disneysteve. I have gone through this myself and I said no more and decided to focused on savings and paying back the student loan.
      Also, nonsense, what you can do is borrow from the library 3 books: the millionaire next door, Dave Ramsey 's total money makeover and Suze Orman 's young rich and fabulous ( not quite sure of the full title but it is along these lines). Let us know how it goes. Best wishes to your friend.
      Last edited by Savingbtime; 04-25-2012, 07:12 PM.


        I too agree with Steve. Consumption is the addiction. Debt is merely a symptom. When I went through my transformation from consuming to saving, I recognized the adjustment. After a few months of prioritizing savings, wasteful consumption becomes distasteful.

        After you have adjusted to a saving/debtfree lifestyle, you will likely begin to spend frugally again. But, your prioritiy to save will likely stay.

        I also recommend that you give her "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. Whether or not she reads and applies the info is up to her. I have bought several of these books at goodwill for less than three dollars.


          For many, yes, I'm sure debt is an addiction. I've heard there's actually a "Debtor's Anonymous".

          My now-ex-wife is someone who can't seem, actually doesn't WANT to stop herself from running up debt on credit cards- even if she can pay it off every month. Her thinking was, if she had a job, she could pay it off no problem. There was also an element of status- she was "building up her credit score", shopping at Nordstrom's, etc.

          People get off on having "Gold Cards", high limits, shopping at high-end stores. To me, they're just stupid, pretending they're some image of "rich", when they're really enriching the financial conglomerates that have raped our country's economy.


            I agree more of a spending addiction.

            Make up, updated fashions, the new status symbols of $300.00 purses and jeans. A day spa goer? Latest technology. "Doing" lunch. Getting a latte daily. Lavish vacations.

            It is endless what there is to spend money on.

            But her credit will suffer and then she will have needs that have to be met and will find out the hard way that debt does matter.


              Originally posted by nonsense View Post
              Is the only solution for me to wait until she hits rock bottom and decides for herself that she wants to get out of debt? Or are there steps that I can take to help her see that she needs to tackle this problem that she will actually listen to?
              You know that old phrase "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink"? Well, it is true. There are no steps YOU can take. Your friend wants to stop getting into debt, or she doesn't. She will make her own decision, no one else can make it for her.



                I really never been adicted to anything, I have addicted friends and they tell me I dont understand addition.

                That being said, I think debt is a consequence of shopoholism. Just like damaged liver is a consequence of alcoholism. I believe Debtor anonymous might be helping people getting healthy on their spending.

                I did get myself on embarrasing amouts of debt and the two times it happened (I'm, God Willing 5 months to elliminate it again) it was a due to neglect and lack of discipline.

                I spent and I neglected checking on my budget or keepinh up with my plan. I avoided even thinking about it.
                I looked even deeper this time and my neglect and lack of discipline was caused by lower than desirable Self Esteem . I am told addiction is also a self esteem and self love issue.

                So, since you are so eager to help your friend, perhaps you can consider leaving her alone about her espending and invite her to use a credit card and buy a self Esteem workshop
                I am serious, or a self esteem book. Something!

                Good for you for being a concerned friend, but absolutelly, you cannot help a person who doesnt want to be helped.


                  I think that debt can be, in a lot of cases, a simple lack of financial knowledge. It is drummed into peoples' heads for years to get a good job paying good money and them proceed to buy a bunch of stuff and make easy and low monthly payments. And, most people not knowing any better go out and do just that.

                  There isn't much effort put into telling people to save, to invest, or to live frugally.


                    In some cases, I truly feel that excessive debt is due to unforeseen circumstances, out of the control of the individual. It could be medical issues, loss of employment, etc. I realize that with proper planning, emergencies should be accounted for, but things happen.

                    In other situations, accumulating debt can be a byproduct of a spending addiction. The personality traits of spenders are no different than those of other addicts.

                    In fact, I wrote an article recently about "financial rehabilitation" and touched on this.


                      Your friend and EE's ex-wife describe a lot of my friends, relatives and colleagues. Experience has taught me to keep my mouth shut and think up reasons why I can no longer loan them money to get out of their current jam. The fastest way to make people angry with you is to give unasked for advice, no matter how well meaning.

                      I think Dr. Steve nailed it, some people get a brief high on buying stuff even if they end up paying for it 10 times over in interest charges.


                        I'm an addiction addict I think. I get addicted very easily to things, like video games (I played world of warcraft for 2 years), spending money (got myself into $5,000+ of debt), buying gifts for others (spent $3,000 one Christmas), working (I work about 50 hours a week), and now to saving money.

                        The last addiction is not a problem except for when it comes to buying things for me. Then I'm the cheapest person in the world and sometimes that becomes an issue.

                        So I don't think getting into debt is as much the problem as what DisneySteve said, spending. Addiction to spending is a major issue for many people. And it's also about education. Educating yourself to live within your means, which unless you've actively looked at your budget, you cannot really do realistically.

                        At the end of the day, I think she's going to have to figure it out herself. No amount of me saying anything to my sister is going to change anything either. We all have to learn on our own.


                          I don't think it's debt that is an addition ...

                          I think the real problem is that she has no patience and is addicted to getting what she wants right now - instead of working hard and saving. If we see something cool that someone else has, we think we should have it too. Nobody wants to work hard and slowly put money aside to purchase what we think we want/need.