Chrometophobia or chrematophobia – that’s what the fear of spending money is called. It encompasses everything from the fear of thinking about money to spending it and, in extreme cases, the fear of touching physical money.
The symptoms of chrometophobia include the hesitation to think about money, withdrawal from activities that will make you spend money, the desire to count money endlessly (or the desire to always see your money in your bank account), depressive thoughts or anxiety about money (or the intense anxiety caused by your financial situation), and so on.
Chrometophobia may be an irrational fear, but like many other phobias, it’s real and many people suffer from it. It doesn’t help that the current economic situation of the country is plunging more people into poverty, inflation keeps shooting up, inequality is being deepened, and hope for this light at the end of the tunnel is waning.
To know why many people suffer from chrometophobia, we must first understand that in Nigeria, 63 percent of the population (133 million people) live below the poverty line. When we hear poverty, we immediately think of a lack of money. But poverty is multifaceted and multi-dimensional; to be poor is to lack full access to food, an education, basic needs like shelter and clothing, and good hygiene – basically the resources that will improve the quality of your life.
To be poor is to live in constant, unidentifiable and undefinable fear. Today, you have enough, tomorrow, you’re back to nothing and forced to feed off crumbs or sleep in the streets. Poverty messes up your mindset, and even when you are no longer poor and you have enough to cater to your needs, there’s a high chance that you’ll suffer from peniaphobia and/or chrometophobia.
Peniaphobia will leave you thinking you could wake up tomorrow to find all your money gone – like a petulant child whose goodies were taken away as a punishment – and you’d have to start from scratch. So you work hard and harder, running away from poverty, your heels hitting your head, scared it’d catch up with you at any time.
Chrometophobia will make you feel guilty when you eat more than a piece of meat or buy that skincare product. It will have you buying shoes of 2500 whose sole will detach from its body after two wears because you don’t want to cough out 15,000 naira (that you can afford) to buy a new one. So you go about with superglue in your bag in case your shoe decides to split at any time, and needle and thread in case your low-quality dress tears at the back.
Chrometophobia can be so extreme that it can become difficult for someone to spend money or pay their bills, even if they are in a good financial position. It will leave you with palpitations when you receive debit alerts. You then begin to deny yourself of necessities because you want to hoard money as much and as long as you can, and listen to messages about living below your means to justify your phobia of debit alerts.
People who are born into poverty, have faced severe financial difficulties in the past, or have a history of deprivation may develop chrometophobia because they may have been traumatised by the situation and fear it may occur again. If this is you, know that chrometophobia is something you can let go of, but first, you must show yourself some compassion as you deal with it.
Chrometophobia will have you thinking there’s a bigger and more justifiable cause on which money should be spent, but this feeling never leaves and you never get to buy yourself the things you deserve. Let go of the belief that there’s always something more important than what you’re about to buy presently. Whether you are going on a vacation or buying yourself something as little as a cup of ice cream, whatever will bring you happiness – short-term or long-term – is worth it. There’s a place for more worthy causes and there’s a place for temporary bliss; you do not have to sacrifice one for the other.
It is important to prioritise your spending and give room for every facet of your life. Learn to do those courses and still eat good food or visit that recreation centre. Life can become gloomy when you consistently deny yourself basic necessities and affordable treats. As you grow financially, you must ensure your mindset grows too, or else you will be stuck in a cycle of poverty you’re trying to pull yourself from. The best thing is to find a balance; enjoying the present while preparing for the future.
This is a call for you to spend that dough; you only live once. This is not the last salary you will receive in your lifetime; there’s always more. There’s so much out there for you, and more opportunities will come your way, so wean yourself off the poverty mentality. In all of this, it’s important to have a budget. Don’t eat with your ten fingers because – YOLO.
It is important to mention that chrometophobia is also a medical condition. So if you find it difficult to pull yourself out of it, reach out to a psychotherapist for help.
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