January 27, 2011 | By: Laurie Campbell

Gobble, gobble, gobble go the little money gobblers.

Let’s talk today about a widespread phenomenon within our society called the money gobblers - a troubling group that plays a role in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.

The money gobblers are everywhere, snarfing up cash and credit as if there’s no tomorrow. They almost always provide instant gratification of your desires, but most often in the end they leave you feeling frustrated and anxious. They are insidious. They work in small, sneaky ways. If you look closely, you can spot them.

I’m talking about all the things in life that you buy without having taken the time to honestly consider, A) whether they will wreck havoc on your bank balance, and, B) whether you really need them.

Here is a good example of the money gobblers’ modus operandi.

It’s Friday night and you’re bored. Friends call to invite you to the bar for some merriment. Now, payday is a week away and you know you’ve got just enough dough to get you through comfortably till then. But suddenly, you tell yourself you don’t have to splurge at the bar. One little drink won’t hurt. So off you go. When you wake up the next morning in a strange elevator, you wonder what the heck happened.

You ask yourself, why do I spend this way and do these things? Unfortunately, the answer comes only in the form of a grim silence within a throbbing skull. Then it hits you: you realize that for the days ahead, you can say goodbye to deli chicken and salad for dinner, and say hello to macaroni and cheese powder, accompanied by many glasses of water.

Now, if you think alcohol is to blame here, you are sorely mistaken. The real culprit is unrestrained, often unconscious, spending.

For another example, you may think you’ve got your wits about you at the supermarket when you pluck a tabloid from a shelf offering the latest shocking news about Charlie Sheen’s meltdown with strippers in a hotel room. The tabloid represents only a $3.99 purchase after all (seeing the three in the figure somehow distracts you from the fact that it’s really a four dollar purchase). However, it’s likely you aren’t in control of your faculties when you pluck Charlie from the shelf. It’s classic, thoughtless “impulse” buying.

The truly shocking news here is how small expenditures of this nature can add up over time. But why take my word for it? See for yourself how the money in your life disappears as if by magic. Make just a modest effort to track all – and I mean all – of your spending for a week right down to your last nickel (I’d say your last penny, but I’m told that soon pennies will no longer be minted since they cost more to make than they’re worth). 

Actually, let me rephrase that last call to action. Rather than tracking all of your spending for just a week, do it for a full month, which offers what researchers call a more reliable “sample” of behaviour. Credit Canada can help make the tracking process easy. Just visit (click here) for your free online Monthly Money Tracker.

From coffee, cell phone charges and cigarettes, to clothing, cosmetics and CDs – the money gobblers take shape as formidable foes in any battle to put your financial house in order. In fact, the gobbler list goes on and on: lottery tickets, gadgets, trinkets, magazines, movie rentals, pop and candy, munchies – even bank charges. I’m barely skimming the surface here.

Well, we live in a consumer society, so I guess we feel it’s only right to consume, consume, consume. But I say, not if it brings pain and worry.

For many, becoming fully financially aware takes time getting used to. But when you reach that day, you’ll breathe much easier. Or look at it this way: most of us already have honed our money awareness skills to some degree.

We are abundantly alert to how much we spend on big-ticket items such as rent and mortgage, automotive/life insurance, and car loans, among other important things. Why not bring that spending awareness to all matters in life?

Either that, or it’s going to be macaroni and cheese powder – accompanied by many glasses of water - for a long time to come.


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