Overwraught Overworkers: Why Workaholics are Terrible Savers

For some, the compulsion to work drives constant late paying of bills and inability to balance accounts, causing over drafting and fees. The impulsivity of workaholics also can lead to purchasing too much for, you guessed it, work.

In America, the term “workaholic” may refer both to those who are driven and detail oriented as well as to those who hide from family and life behind their jobs.  While some may lose themselves in their job out of the joy of it or the drive to create successful careers, some people do literally lose themselves in their work.  For the later group, those who work a lot, they may find themselves in a cycle of compulsive task completion – never able to leave work without finishing that last thing. They may even attach a sense of worth to how much they do, rather than their job performance or how their work serves their communities or their companies.  Those workers also judge themselves by their accomplishments and therefore think that their value is in the process of earning, not in who they are. And, people who overwork tend to schedule themselves for more than they can handle, thinking they will get more respect if they can do more and do it faster.

Characteristics of workaholics include, those who free up time from their personal lives to do more work; spend more time working than intended (they literally “get lost in their work”); use work (including volunteer projects) as a way to avoid feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression; lie about how much they are working, or hide work while on vacation; have increased stress levels when kept from working; deprioritize hobbies or pleasure activities and possibly change hobbies into money-making ventures; and finally, experience health issues related to the stress and time away from work.

If the issue for the person who overworks is based on lack of self-respect, then it might follow that how they spend the money they gained from that overwork might not line up neatly with tried and true retirement readiness plans. As Money Love author, financial speaker, and noted overworker,Meadow DeVorputs it: “[a]t its root, money is a representation of value, worth and energy. Our relationship with money mirrors our relationship to life itself.”  But lack of valuing oneself doesn’t necessarily mean an employee who is too tied to their work will lack retirement readiness skills.

Instead, it is the personality traits of workaholics that tend to lead them away from retirement readiness activities.  Workaholics tend to be people who are altruistic and modest, as well as nervous and impulsive. Some researchers link overworking with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. More than 32 percent of workaholics also met the criteria for ADHD, and about 25 percent of those classified as workaholics showed characteristics of OCD.  As one bloggernoted, “OCD is made up of “Obsessions”, thoughts that re-occur and cause significant distress, and “Compulsions”, rituals that are repeated in order to ward off the obsessions.” For some, spending can become a compulsion.” For others, compulsion to work drives constant late paying of bills and inability to balance accounts, causing overdrafting and fees. The impulsivity of workaholics also can lead to purchasing too much for, you guessed it, work, as well as lacking decision making skills in planning purchases.

Importantly, overworking also can drive lack of memory, poor concentration, two traits negatively associated with retirement readiness. Over workers may also not prioritize their savings, seeing that as not sufficiently work related to rise to the level of needing their attention. And recall, not all workaholics earn money from their activities. Many take their obsessive need to continue working into volunteer activities, either to continue to gain status or to continue to fill up their datebooks.

Therapy for overworking usually involves finding ways for the workaholic to disengage from work and developing a sense of self-awareness of when work is creating problems.

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