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Is Money Your Master or Your Servant?

Is Money Your Master or Your Servant?

DO YOU suffer from money sickness syndrome? Reportedly, this condition afflicts a large percentage of the world’s population. What is it?

Dr. Roger Henderson, a mental-health researcher in the United Kingdom, recently coined the term “money sickness syndrome” to designate the physical and psychological symptoms experienced by people who are stressed with money worries. The symptoms include shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, skin rashes, lack of appetite, unjustified anger, nervousness, and negative thinking. “Money worries are a significant cause of stress,” reports Henderson.

It should come as no surprise that during recent months more and more people have fallen victim to the ill effects of money-related anxieties. The current financial crises in many lands have resulted in the loss of jobs, homes, and personal savings on a global scale. Large financial institutions have collapsed, and even the wealthiest nations have adopted emergency measures to prevent total financial ruin. In the developing world, the rising cost of food and other basic commodities has also caused much anxiety.

Money woes are also common in times of abundance. During recent years of financial prosperity, many people have been plagued by money worries. For instance, The Witness, a South African newspaper, reported that “a creeping social disease of over-consumption, commercialism and rampant materialism” was spreading in Africa. The newspaper listed some of the symptoms of this “disease,” including “stress, debt, waste, overwork, feelings of deprivation, envy and depression.” Money was blamed for the ongoing deterioration of the quality of human life in Africa.

Prior to the recent financial crunch, India underwent a period of outstanding economic growth. India Today International reported that 2007 was a year when the country “fast forwarded to a new level of conspicuous consumption.” Yet, at the time, officials there were afraid that India’s prosperity would result in increased unrest and even violence.

During that same period too, a new generation of young adults in the United States were displaying a propensity for splurging on luxury items. However, their spending power was not bringing them happiness. Researchers stated that affluence was one of the principal causes of alcoholism, depression, and suicide there. One study revealed that despite the abundance and wealth, “fewer than one in three Americans” claimed to be “very happy.”

The Other Side of the Coin

On the other hand, in good times and bad times, many people​—both rich and poor—​are relatively free of anxieties about money and material possessions. Why the difference?

In a report entitled The Meaning of Money, the researchers observed that some people are “highly motivated by money and controlled by money. This may lead to stress and neuroticism.” In contrast, they added: “Those who budget their money carefully tend to have internal locus of control and positive feelings toward themselves. They are the  masters of money and not slaves of money . . . We assert that those who budget their money carefully may also have lower stress, and, thereby, lower strain.”

What is your attitude toward money? How does the volatile nature of the world’s economy affect you? Is money your master or your servant? Perhaps you do not experience the symptoms of the so-called money sickness syndrome. Still, whether wealthy or poor, we are all vulnerable to the ill effects of money worries. Consider how adjustments in the way you handle your finances may bring you more peace of mind and a happier life.