by Rick Kahler
the years, I’ve noticed a commonality among people with money problems. Many of
them are also overweight. Is there a relationship between overspending and
now, I couldn’t be sure my experience was anything more than circumstantial.
But I recently read about a 2009 study done by Dr. Eva
Munster at the University of Mainz in Germany. It found that people who were in
deep consumer debt were 2.5 times more likely to be overweight than those who
were debt free. This confirms what I’ve observed over the past 15 years.
isn't possible to pinpoint one simple reason for this link. Among the causes
I've seen suggested are overeating because of the stress of being in debt,
difficulty buying healthful food with limited income, or an inability to delay
gratification in both spending and eating.
on my work with people in financial trouble, however, I suspect a deeper root
cause. Just as chronic money problems aren't about the money, chronic weight
problems probably aren't about the food.
For supporting evidence, I went to an expert: my daughter. London recently took a graduate level course in previewing medicine. I asked her what the medical link between overspending and overeating might be. She explained that sugar is addictive and lights up
the same part of the brain that narcotics do. It produces a euphoric response
within the brain that calls for more of the substance when the euphoria
wondered whether people addicted to sugar might overspend on junk food to feed
their addiction. They might also spend money they really don’t have on diets,
fitness centers, and the higher medical costs associated with being overweight.
pointed out that I spend a lot on healthy food that costs more than junk food. I
also spend money on a fitness center and medical costs to pay for the damage I
do to my body compulsively working out. "Well, I guess my argument doesn’t
hold much weight," she quipped.
pondered for a moment. "Oh, I think I got it. I’ll bet for some people
spending money lights up the same part of the brain as sugar and narcotics?"
is why the key to changing any addictive behavior—eating, drinking, using
drugs, or overspending—is not simply about eliminating the substance or the
activity. Something else just pops up to take its place. That’s why many people
who successfully stop drinking gain weight or get into serious money problems. The
brain just substitutes one dopamine producer for another.
ultimate answer is a sort of "rewiring" of the brain to create new
neuropathways that do not require the harmful substance or activity to produce
the same euphoric event. The latest research on the brain tells us this
rewiring is completely doable.
seen that permanently changing the most entrenched damaging money behaviors takes
more than knowledge about money or budgeting. Experts on obesity tell us the
solution to permanently losing weight rarely lies with learning more about
nutrition or finding the right diet. Making deep life changes such as these
requires looking into the past. This recovery process takes time, effort, and
money. It's a path that many people are just not willing to follow.
But there may be some
good news. If the underlying causes for overeating and overspending are the
same, then doing the work to recover from one is likely to help someone recover
from the other, as well. It's a sort of "two for the price of one"
sale. In terms of long-term financial, physical and emotional well-being, it
seems like a bargain.
Rick Kahler, Certified Financial Planner®, MS, ChFC, CCIM, founded Kahler Financial Group, and became South Dakota’s first fee-only financial planner in 1983. In 2009, Wealth Manager named Kahler Financial Group as the largest financial planning firm in a seven-state area. A pioneer in the evolution of integrating financial psychology with traditional financial planning profession, Rick is co-founder and co-facilitator of the five-day intensive Healing Money Issues Workshop offered by Onsite Workshops of Nashville, Tennessee. He is one of only a handful of planners nationwide who partner with professional coaches and financial therapists to deliver financial coaching and therapy to his clients. Visit KahlerFinancial.com today!