I see examples of unstable financial structures in people’s personal finances all the time. They are characterized not only by the burden of debt or by shaky financial practices but also by signs of a predictable—and progressive—downward slide. I call it the Money/Life Drain. Signs that you’re caught in this downward spiral include a lifestyle where the demands on your time, energy and money leave nothing for the things that make life worth living….

When you are unable to save and are pressured to work more and earn more, your relationships become strained, your health is impacted by the stress, and ultimately your overall quality of life deteriorates. You are filled with despair and hopelessness.

Does this seem extreme? Believe me, it’s not. I see people from all walks of life, both in my years of financial counseling and from people sharing their experiences who are in our training programs. Women and men in all lines of work, even people with inherited wealth, can have similar descriptions of an existence that leaves them stripped of their life force as they struggle to make ends meet.

Numerous current national studies and reports tell us that millions of Americas are living dangerously close to financial instability. We’ve all read the articles and stories that tell us how a single unexpected expense put someone over the edge, or a job loss had instantly dire consequences. And so many more simply have trouble paying for rent, medical bills and other basic daily needs.

As spiraling consumer debt and an inability to save shove us into a cycle of “work more to earn more,” we lose sight of those things that make life truly meaningful.

In their class book, Your Money or Your Life, Vicki Robin and the late Joe Dominguez observe that “over time our relationship with money—earning it, spending it, investing it, owing it, protecting it, worrying about it—has taken over a major part of our lives.”

We won the revolution—the Industrial Revolution, which promised a higher standard of living for all– but lost the war. We adopted a new way of life that called for us to “push for a higher standard of living regardless of moral, ethical, emotional, cultural, marital, environmental, and political consequences.”

So how is this working for you? Obviously, I feel strongly about this. People think that because I spend all my time training new Financial Recovery(SM) Counselors/Coaches, money must be the most important thing—what I think about all the time. But the truth is actually the opposite. I help people pull back from having money be the be-all and end-all. So many people spend all their time worrying about money. What would it be like if you felt in control of your finances, took care of your true needs, felt safe and secure, and then could focus your energy on what truly gives your life meaning?

When you gain control over your personal finances, you really can exit the money/life drain.

January 4th, 2011 by Karen McCall