How I (Usually) Avoid Bipolar Spending

Let’s just say I have bought a lot of books and donated a lot of money. This would be the affective aspect of schizoaffective disorder. The mood part. The #bipolar part.

It’s no secret that people with bipolar disorder, when mania hits, will spend tons of money without thinking twice about it.

We also genuinely don’t miss the money. Or maybe I should only speak for myself. I genuinely don’t miss it.

So what do I do to keep from bankrupting myself and my family?

  1. I have no credit card. I only use cash and a debit card that has no more than 1k in the linked checking account. Dave Ramsey is a good starting point for this kind of thing, except for the down side: that he used Bible verses at one point during the pandemic, to convince people to evict people from their property. That last part – not so good. Using only cash? Priceless.
  2. We donate or spend out of my husband’s account and he is way more sane than me. Single? Find trusted others who have a vested interest in your financial health to hold you accountable.
  3. I do recurring donations to make sure that I am not spending on big-ticket items. I determine the allocations for the year in advance and I hold to them.

I would say that the thing that has most helped me most on the day-to-day aspects of having partial bipolar disorder and literally not caring if I become poor overnight, has been mindfulness.

Watching my thinking and my impulses rather than acting on them all the time is very important. By not jumping on every opportunity to spend, I become more aware of how often I do feel the urge to spend, and I find it easier to not act.

Finally, Christianity is to blame for a lot of consumer spending (think Christmas!) but, it is also an important part of my ability to curb major spending habits because, at least the type that I (try to) practice, is against consumerism.

For the past couple of months I’ve also been practicing the discipline of walking into book stores and not buying anything. Instead: I’ve been going to the library.

People are really, really weird about money, probably because it is linked to our physical energetic boundaries. It can literally be a matter of life or death. So, for a while I never talked to my therapist about my spending habits. But since talking with him I have learned that I do have a deep sense of compassion and a desire to help the world, but that I can do that with things other than money.

If you lack a sense of self-worth, perhaps because of your disability, it can be easy to seek praise and connection through money. This is not to say you shouldn’t donate or help others financially, but just make sure you’re not making an idol of money, the causes you contribute to, or the things you buy on shopping sprees for yourself or others.

In my experience, giving people we interact with regularly money damages the relationship permanently because it changes the power dynamics.

Sometimes, a meaningful conversation or the commitment to pray for another person is far far more valuable.

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