I want to talk to you about a serious condition affecting more and more people today. It begins with an innocent comment, something along the lines of “Oh, I guess I don’t really need that new Marc Jacobs bag” and quickly evolves into a full blown case of (dramatic microphone voice) Financial Anorexia.
I speak to you, not just as a public servant, but as someone struggling personally with the epidemic. For me, it began with a layoff. Typical in this economy. I made a decision to pursue writing. Not the most rational decision since I required luxuries like sustenance and a roof over my head, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
Soon, I was choosing to cook at home most nights instead of going out or ordering takeout. It escalated quickly. I would go to bars and opt to drink moderately. Suspicions were voiced that I was either in rehab or pregnant or got pregnant while in rehab (a fair assessment by my friends). But even that did not stop me. In my mind, my wallet was not sexy until I could see its ribs (this joke courtesy of a professional comedy writer who will not be paid in any way, shape or form).
My name is Shirley Chan, and I am a Financial Anorexic.
I am attacking my affliction on many fronts.
To feed my love of dining out (forgive the pun), I have become a mystery diner. I receive assignments to visit bars and restaurants, gorge on food and drinks and rate their service. Yes. It is as awesome a gig as it sounds. Especially when the guy training me asked “You’re ok with drinking and eating everything, right?” I pretty much high-fived him in the face as my answer.
I’m also finding ways to party without paying. Sometimes, it’s a friend with an extra invitation to some gala event (note to the reader: I clean up nice and am not above being a plus-one!). Sometimes, the fact that I’m a journalist warrants me on-the-list status. And sometimes, strip clubs starting magazines just want to make sure I’m getting the full experience. Nothing is beneath me. Especially not if they offer unlimited free scotches. Then there really is nothing beneath me because I’m in the gutter.
Living in New York City helps. There are a multitude of free, interesting events to experience. And thanks to friends with connections, I’ve scored free tickets to a number of amazing shows like Red and The 39 Steps. As you can see, I try to make every experience count by writing it up and adding to my portfolio.
Being shameless helps, too! A lot of my friends have cooked and purchased pity drinks for me since I became financially anorexic. They do seem uncomfortable when I shed tears of gratitude though. Maybe because the sobbing doesn’t stop for a few hours.
Remember, not all financial anorexics are easy to spot. Many function normally, as if adding to their savings in this economy could ever be deemed normal.
Warning signs include:
- Standing with hands pulling empty pants pockets inside out and shrugging shoulders.
- Suggesting nonsensical activities like “walking outside to enjoy the weather” or “talking” in lieu of rolling up money and smoking it like a cigar.
If you are reading this and want to help, reach out to a financial anorexic today. You may be able to start them on the path to recovery.
This has been a public service announcement.