Why Some People Spend Too Much

Will Rogers said: “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”

It’s true. What causes this?

Lack of self-respect. If you respect yourself, you don’t need to spend money other than for your own sake, or the sake of your loved ones, or perhaps a charity or cause that you value.

The kind of people embodied by this quote are compulsive spenders. “Compulsive spending” does not refer to spending above a certain amount. It refers to spending based on irrational anxiety.

Irrational anxiety is always based on false premises, thoughts and ideas.


“I must spend in order to look a certain way.”

”I must look ‘cool’ and please others. Otherwise, I’m nobody.”

Right there, you’re concerned with how you look to others as your primary standard of value. That motive is irrational.

Rationally speaking, you don’t live life for others. You live for yourself, and for people or causes/enterprises/goals that are important to you—by your own choice, by your own values and standards.

The minute you start living for others, you’ll start to feel like you must put on a show. Buying things is a way to put on that show. “If I own this object [car, house, clothing, whatever] then I’ll be worthwhile.”

But your things don’t make you worthwhile. The competent use of your mind makes you worthwhile.

You ought to be proud of your mind’s accomplishments. But when your mind’s accomplishments lead you to have money or wealth, YOU already know what you’ve accomplished. There’s no need to prove anything, if you’re rational and healthy.

Sure, you spend some of that money and wealth on what’s important to you, on what you enjoy, and what you consider valuable. But this isn’t for show. This is for enjoyment/fulfillment related to the fruits of your labor.

Rogers’ quote makes reference to spending money you haven’t earned. Sometimes this is the result of theft or mooching. However, more often it consists of living beyond your means, most likely through credit card or similar debt. It’s not theft, but it’s irrational. In some cases it even leads to bankruptcy. The fiscal bankruptcy results from the moral bankruptcy fueled by the psychological/anxiety issue I’m discussing.

We sometimes see this with celebrities, particularly people who hit it big while quite young. Some people handle this very well. Others, as we know, blow up in a very public way, with emotional breakdowns and the like. In these cases, they don’t know how to handle their anxiety. They suddenly have a lot of money, but they do not have the self-respect to match it. As a result, they squander it on range-of-the-moment activities that don’t make a lot of sense fiscally or otherwise, but allow them to feel like they’re acting (in the eyes of others, their peers) the way they’re supposed to act.

Celebrities who suddenly possess a lot of money have the option to indulge in drugs to whatever degree they wish. They can easily afford lawyers for any legal troubles they encounter. This makes them different from the mainstream of people. However, they’re no different from other people who lack self-respect, who need to look a certain way in the eyes of others. Their anxiety level about this is quite high, and as a result, they take drugs to help them feel like they’re coping with the extreme anxiety.

“Materialism” gets the blame by religionists, socialists and other puritanical mentalities for what really is an anxiety issue, at the root. When people decry materialism, they’re really decrying freedom and money. But the fact that some people mismanage their freedom and money because of anxiety is no reason to blame money. It’s reason to blame the anxiety, and the lack of self-respect and rationality about life giving rise to it.

Notice that Roger’s quote refers to pleasing people you don’t even like. It’s true. The less you respect yourself, the less respect you will have for people that YOU choose to be objects of admiration. How can you admire or respect someone that you yourself chose, when you don’t even feel that way about yourself?