What is money dysmorphia?

Many Gen Z and millennial workers feel poor, even if they’re not.

Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition in which someone obsesses over perceived physical flaws that aren’t apparent to others.

A stressed woman looks at a pile of cash in her hand against a red and black background.

Now, a similar term has been coined to describe people who have a skewed perception of their finances: “money dysmorphia.”

Money dysmorphia…

… is when someone feels stressed or insecure about their finances, regardless of any real issues. It largely affects younger earners:

  • Per a Credit Karma survey, 43% of Gen Z and 41% of millennials say they have money dysmorphia.

A majority of people who experience money dysmorphia feel “behind,” even if they’re financially stable or have a nice chunk in savings.

So, why do people feel this way?

Both Gen Z and millennials have experienced some pretty weird times, including a pandemic and a recession, that have impeded the career growth their elders enjoyed.

Add student loan debt and the rising cost of housing and living, and many milestones — home ownership, starting a family, etc. — are often delayed or missed.


… over half of respondents who said they experienced money dysmorphia aren’t just looking for stability, but to be rich.

Credit Karma posits that the two generations’ constant exposure to social media, where influencers and celebrities flaunt their wealth, has led to unrealistic lifestyle comparisons. This can lead to poor financial choices, including overspending to keep up.

  • It’s worth noting that brands often give influencers and celebs free experiences or products due to their following, which makes it seem like they can afford luxuries they actually can’t.

How to cope

Experts advise consulting a financial advisor, learning about finances, and putting together a monthly budget.

Oh, and perhaps key: stop scrolling social media, where you’re more likely to make impulsive purchases and feel bad that you don’t have a yacht.

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