“Hi, my name is … Lydell,” he said, voice cracking, speaking with a bit of hesitation and embarrassment. “And I … I live below my means.”
Supportive cheers and applause fills the room for making this courageous, first-step confession to those in attendance.
“I’ve always had some kind of … spending dysfunction. I’ve always been a little different from others, so I don’t fit in with the crowd. I carry it around with me everywhere I go. But normal people just don’t understand me.
“Yes, yes, I am diagnosed with thrift disorder. I … I simply can’t stop spending … as little as humanly possible. It’s not that I collect coins or hoard paper bills or anything. That would just create more stuff for me to worry about protecting and take up unnecessary space. It’s the overwhelming gratification I experience as I see my savings and investment numbers increase over time without the added burden of minimum payments and the weight of excess possessions. And I … I just can’t consume like normal people. Every time I turn around I succumb to another impulse save — and sometimes I suffer from saver’s remorse afterwards.
“I’ve been bullied, mocked, socially rejected. I’m an easy target of ridicule and whispering gossip. I’ve been called names … like Austere Budgeteer. Been described as penny wise and ascetic. You name it. It’s downright cruel what people can say. ‘Why don’t you buy yourself a sports car instead of that old beater,’ they retort, ‘to reflect this stage of success in your life? Your car is a reflection of your personality, and it shows.’ Their disapproving replies more than hinting that I don’t measure up to societal norms and expectations.
“Oh, I’ve tried several remedies in the past. Seriously. I immersed myself in advertisements. I went to electronic stores, clothing outlets, CAR DEALERSHIPS! And I window shopped and imagined having all of the goodies money can buy. ‘Of all people,’ I thought, ‘I should benefit from a little retail therapy.’ I signed up for email alerts for all the best sales.
“When that didn’t work, I tried putting up a front. I befriended my neighbor down the street, Mr. Jones. Turns out the more he splurged on the latest items, and the more I saved, he began to realize I had something different going on. He was in over his head in possession prison, in his ongoing quest to have the latest and greatest over his hapless competition, and I simply couldn’t care less about it all. I’m detached from the constant allure. And before I knew it, he was beginning to show signs of my disorder as well. I had no idea it might come to that, that it could be passed from one person to the next.
“All of the sensory overload brought on by amassing piles of stuff is suffocating. It chokes out your life-money. It’s exhausting. Newness exuberance is short-lived, and the subsequent crash makes you spend more — like an ever-spiraling galaxy of funds being sucked into the black hole of debt.
“So there’s something obviously very, very wrong with my condition that normal people don’t feel this way. And that’s what brings me here to Compulsive Savers Anonymous. Thank you for listening.”
Lydell X. Spence
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