Am I using money, or is money using me?

I get on the phone with a physician. She is stressed. Her tone is exasperated. Her frustration has been building and building. I hear the stress in her words.

She feels like she has been juggling ball after ball after ball. Living her circus of a life. Taking care of her patients. Pulling extra shifts and doing locums.

Somehow, fitting in a little bit of time when she can for her caring husband and handful of kids. She’s up to her eyeballs in debt. House debt. More than six figures of medical school debt. Car debt. Debt for the pool house and debt for the hobby farm. Now, college is coming for her kids. It’s just around the corner …

How did it all come to this?

It’s quite simple really.

She couldn’t say no.

She’s feeling guilty for the soccer games she missed. Feeling guilty for missing the ballet lessons and kid’s orchestra concerts. Feeling guilty for not spending enough time with her husband.

And she’s using money to dress that wound.

Get a pool for the kids — they deserve it. Get a hobby farming to help them appreciate animals and teach them hard work.

Get a new car? Sure, let’s do it! Life is short. We can’t fit the kids in the current rig anyhow.

Help a needy family? We’ve been given so much; we can make it happen.

Order expensive games on Kickstarter? We need that family time and this will help us.

They couldn’t say no to one another. They love one another and didn’t want to start another argument.

Life was hard enough.

They’ve been through financial courses after financial course, trying to work through these issues. Trying to find the answer.

However, the money issue was really just the symptom of a deeper problem … a psychological problem.


And money isn’t going to solve that issue.

The heart of this physician is amazing. She gives so much to her patients. She gives so much to the hospital and her community. She tries to give so much to her family.

She’s not alone. Many physicians are going through these same emotions.

Are these physicians working with you in the hospital? Or even more so, could this be you?

Protect yourself and your loved ones. Address that guilt head on. Always ask, “Am I using money, or is money using me? Is there a better way?”

Dave Denniston is a chartered financial analyst and hosts the Freedom Formula for Physicians PodcastHe is the author of the Freedom Formula for Physicians.

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