Spending Money as a form of Escapism

The first item that I wanted to tackle is the fact that I use spending money as a form of escapism, before we go any further I want to make sure that we’ve got a clear idea of what escapism is. Dictionary.com defines Escapism as:

the avoidance of reality by absorption of the mind in entertainment or in an imaginative situation, activity, etc.

And that’s exactly what I was doing for years, spending money to go out to eat, going to see movies, and just generally spending money on things that I really didn’t need or care about. I was spending money to escape from the drudgery of my life at the time. When I was growing up things like going out for dinner were a really rare treat. My parents would cook dinner at home and make sure that there were leftovers so a meal could be extended beyond a single day. This translated to a pretty standard and uniform approach to something that I really enjoy, eating. Rarely were meals anything extravagant though they were always good. For me to go out to dinner with my friends was a treat. So when I started making money I started going out to lunch and dinner with friends as often as possible.

Was this activity because I wanted food? I ate when I needed to eat but the reality behind what was happening is that I was eating out because I wanted to escape the mental reality behind how I had eaten in the past. Often I would pay for people who didn’t have enough money so that I wouldn’t be out there eating alone. It was really a form of escapism rather than a need to eat.

But beyond the example of eating I would often hang out with my friends and spend a lot of money for the privilege. I had grown up putting spending money on a bit of a pedestal while at the same time being bombarded with the idea that it’s normal to spend money, eat out and enjoying life to the nth degree. Our media outlets associate being successful with spending money and having nice things. Realistically the people who are most successful don’t send their money in frivolous ways; they set aside money for the things they really want and to be able to live their lives the way they want to rather than getting the instant gratification. I was living in a bit of a false reality. I never spent money on the fancy toys that a lot of people in my situation did but never the less I still spent the money.

Over time my spending money as a form of escapism morphed into escaping the fact that I had gotten myself into debt. Going out with my friends was something that was fun, I would get a paycheck and promptly go spend the money because I knew that I would end up being tight for cash before the end of the pay. Part of the problem was that I was inadvertently causing myself to be tight for cash instead of stopping and really looking at the reasons behind my spending.

Before we go too far, going out with your friends is something young people do and it’s a normal part of going up. Unfortunately spending money all the time for the sake of spending it is nothing but escapism. Originally I thought that spending frivolously was just that frivolous, now I understand that I have a tendency to spend money this way. Knowing this is a really good thing because I can take this knowledge and question why spend money when the idea crosses my mind. Does this mean that I’m not going to go out at all and not spend money? Of course it doesn’t, it just means that I’m going to be considerably more conscious of why I’m spending money. There are a lot of things that I want to have but can’t afford. In the past there was a chance that I would simply spend the money and deal with the consequences.

Knowing that I spend money to escape the world around me is something that I wish I had known when I was 21 or 22; part of life should be about having fun but constantly keeping your head in the sand is no way to exist. I’m considerably more grounded than I was when I was younger but I still try to escape from time to time and if I’m not careful I can spend more money than I really should.

[tags]money, spending, escapism[/tags]

3 thoughts on “Spending Money as a form of Escapism”

  1. Well written, I must admit during my youthfull days if I knew what I knew today I would have been better off financially. Fincancial education and being wise with money is something which should be taught in schools, not knowing the value of $1 or 1 is definetly not the way forward. Nowadays when I hold 1 I see it as 100 as if that 1 is invested wisely it does multiply.

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