Cleaning lady stops spending on superfluous and buys R$ 350 thousand house

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Three years ago, Acidália Jesus da Rocha, 41, received an ultimatum from her husband: either stop spending without thinking or they would separate. Economical, plasterer Leandro de Oliveira Ramos, 38, took on most of the bills for his own three-room house in the north of São Paulo. He had already managed to buy a car and even a townhouse in his hometown, Paramirim (BA). But they still lived in the favela.

“I was very spendthrift,” acknowledges Cida, as she is called. “I liked to buy things for the house, for myself and for the children. Clothes for them had to be of a good brand”, says the day worker, mother of two, now aged 10 and 3, and had four credit cards at that time. era. But she was uncomfortable with pressure from her husband and decided it was time for a change.

Cida looked for a psychologist, paid for by the medical plan. After the therapy sessions, she spent four months paying for everything in cash. Today, it concentrates customer payments at most twice a month. The payments take place close to the expiration dates of the two credit cards she has kept – whose limit is lower than her monthly earnings, around R$6,000.

He stopped buying clothes “at expensive stores” and now goes to Brás, a popular shopping district in the east side of São Paulo. She shares all household bills with her husband, who earns around R$7,000.

“Today I can look at things and control myself,” she says. “Leandro taught me to save money for what really matters, we managed to buy a new house.”

Two years ago, the family left Favela do Jaraguá, in the north of São Paulo, and moved with the family to their own 100 m² house in Jardim Santa Lucrécia, in the same region. They paid BRL 350,000 for the house, most of it in a short, five-year loan, with monthly installments of BRL 4,000.

“We financed in a short time because we are afraid of him becoming unemployed from one moment to the next”, she says about Leandro, hired under the CLT regime. Her life as a day laborer, however, has become even more demanding: she cleans from Monday to Monday, with only two Sundays off a month. Her husband works Monday through Friday, but does odd jobs on Saturdays. “There’s cleaning money that goes straight into a separate account, which serves as savings,” she says.

“Scarcity Tunnel” makes people see no way out, says psychologist

For Vera Rita de Mello Ferreira, a doctor in social psychology from PUC-SP and a specialist in economic psychology, examples such as Cida’s show that people need to separate what is a desire from what is a need – in the case of the day laborer and her husband, they decided that what was needed was a home of their own outside the favela.

“A person’s financial health depends on the distinction he makes between what he needs and what he wants,” says Vera. “Desire is a feeling of lack, of incompleteness, it is unconscious and will never be fully satisfied.”

It is at this point that advertising tests its power, says the expert. “An advertisement comes along and says, ‘Don’t you know what you want? I know, this 1 trillion-inch TV’. I buy it, thinking I’ll feel full. But soon I want something else,” she says, who presides over the Iarep (International Association for Research in Economic Psychology) and heads the consulting firm Vértice Psi.

Faced with the growing indebtedness of the population – which reached a record in June, with 78% of families in debt, according to a survey by the CNC (National Confederation of Commerce) – the specialist highlights a behavior called in economic psychology the “tunnel of scarcity”: to intense situations of lack of money, people only think about what they don’t have and how much they suffer because of it.

“All the time they do accounts of what can go on the shopping list and what can’t. They are tormented and exhausted in having to make money stretch out, which demands a lot of cognitive and emotional capacity”, says Vera.

“This causes them to make the wrong decisions whenever there is money left in the account or there is some credit available,” she says. “They spend more than they earn and end up running away from facing reality, failing to consult statements or card statements. But I don’t call it financial phobia.”

A phobia is a dread, an irrational fear, unsupported by reality, that a person feels on specific occasions, explains the specialist, giving as an example aerophobia (fear of flying) and cynophobia (fear of dogs).

For her, “financial phobia” even exists, but it is an exception.

British psychologist Brendan Burchell himself, a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, who gave rise to the expression in the early 2000s from studies in the United Kingdom, agrees. “The main causes for the indebtedness of the population are not the aversion to personal finances,” he told Sheet.

“But it’s poverty, advertising, consumer culture, inequality, and — most importantly — the ways in which banks market debt products, like credit cards, that encourage people to go into debt.”

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