Money dysmorphia explained by financial advisor, plus tips for taking control of a new budget


“Money makes the world go round.” It’s a phrase seemingly as old as time, which could explain why so many people have a complicated relationship with money.

From not having enough of it to always wanting more of it, both Jordan Jacob and Allison Osbourn said they suffered from what financial advisors like Ali Katz call money dysmorphia: “The distorted view that many of us have of our finances that causes us to make poor decisions about our non-renewable resources, time, energy, attention, health, relationships.”

Young woman managing personal banking and finance.


“The looming student debt that I came out of undergrad and law school, I just never thought I could get over,” Jacob told “Good Morning America.”

“I certainly bought into this message societally, that safety and security really came from money,” Osbourn added.

The pair suffered in some way from the state where financial self-perception doesn’t match reality. For other Americans who may share that feeling, Katz suggests looking for some tell-tale signs to deal with financial dysmorphia.

“You’re always just getting by, you never quite have enough, or you’re constantly chasing more and more — or you’re at rock bottom,” Katz told “GMA.”

To break that cycle, she said you first need to get really clear about your needs versus wants and put a number on them, which is exactly what Jacob did: “Don’t worry about what everybody else has — worry about what you have,” he said.

Then, assess your relationship with money, which for Osbourne meant un-learning old habits.

“I think if I didn’t learn how to navigate money as, like, the fuel to get to the destination versus the destination itself, I don’t know that I’d be able to do this,” Osbourn said.

The final step, said Katz, is to act.

“Get really clear about what you actually need to live the life that you want,” she said. “What do you need to fill in the gap between what you need and what you actually have?”

ABC News chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis said money dysmorphia has played out particularly in people’s lifestyles.

“Many people received raises in the last two years, but they are spending way more because the bigger paycheck just makes them feel richer and then they spend too much,” Jarvis said.

To combat potential problems with money, Jarvis notes that there are several things you can do.

“Automate your savings, especially that emergency fund to cover six months of expenses,” she said. “Instead of spending the raise, invest all the additional money into a 401(k) and make it automatic.”

“If you are going to indulge, make a budget so you are really aware of what you’re spending so you don’t go overboard,” Jarvis further suggested.

Finally, said Jarvis, “The last thing you want is a raise to lead to more credit card debt, especially when credit cards are so expensive.”


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