Season 2 | Episode 22
Jul 16, 2020

Money makes me sick

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Meet the professional auditor who can't stand to look at his own bank account. Our team goes on an adventure to help a man who's anxious about his spending get more comfortable checking his finances.

Leonard Hyman is an auditor, and he does his very best to leave work at work.

He makes enough that he doesn’t have to keep too close of an eye on his bank account … and he really doesn’t keep an eye on his bank account. He has all his bills on auto-pay so that he doesn’t have to see the amounts. Even looking at his own spending on Mint makes Hyman anxious.

“I love spreadsheets, I love lists. Clearly this is something that I enjoy. But somehow on the personal financial side, it just makes me feel icky,” he said. “My stomach just kind of feels a little bit queasy, and I tend to stiffen up.”

Leonard Hyman (right) and his fiancé, Jason Lipshin.
Leonard Hyman (right) and his fiancé, Jason Lipshin. (Ben Hethcoat/Marketplace)

Hyman reached out to “This Is Uncomfortable” for help: He’s getting married next year, and he wants to get better at tracking household finances without freezing up or judging himself so harshly.

Really, it’s not so much about the actual money — even if Hyman weren’t able to audit himself, things would be OK — it’s about the way money makes him feel and how to address his anxiety around personal finance.

So for this week’s show — which, we should note, we taped before the coronavirus pandemic — we tried something different. We talked about Hyman’s situation with Monica Thieu, a three-time “Jeopardy!” contestant and Ph.D. student who studies emotions and the brain. She gave us some of the science behind money anxiety and a few strategies to combat it. Then we hit the streets with Hyman and his (very patient) fiancé to try them out.

That’s how we ended up on a swan boat doing pivot tables.

Ben Hethcoat and Ethan Parets/Marketplace

Along with distracting Hyman, we tried exposure therapy and safety signaling (giving him a safe, happy association with looking over all the money he’s spent on Amazon).

You can find a transcript of this episode here. For more “This Is Uncomfortable,” don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter. We have more stories plus recommendations from our team. Here’s the latest issue, in case you missed it.

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Megan Detrie Senior Producer
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