Dave Ramsey says his wife has something called a “security gland”.  He claims that all women have it.  This is what he says about the security gland:

Somewhere down inside the typical lady is a “security gland,” and when financial stress enters the scene, that gland will spasm. This spasmodic gland will affect your wife in ways you can’t always predict. A spasmodic “security gland” will affect her emotions, her concentration and even her love life. Apparently the security gland is attached to her face.

I think I have a huge security gland. Ginormous. My theory is that people who live through unusually trying financial difficulties have really large security glands. It causes them to do odd things. My grandmother lived through the Great Depression. She never threw anything away. Not so good. It was a little excessive. She also was extremely thrifty and good at saving. Very good! Her experience did not create in her a love of money for money’s sake. She did not become an Ebenezer Scrooge who was miserly and uncharitable. She was actually really generous.

My hyperactive security gland came from the financial disorder that surrounded me during my childhood. My parents divorced when I was young. One of my mother’s major complaints was my dad’s utter lack of fiscal responsibility. I think my grandmother’s experience during the Depression, and the fact that my dad was an only child, caused her to be indulgent with my dad. Consequently he was reckless in many ways, personal and financial. My mom, on the other hand, is horribly disorganized and finds it abhorrent to buy anything but the most “quality” items. She refused to eat margarine when she was a kid and her parents were being frugal. She made her own money and bought butter. Funny story  and showed real independence as a child, but that quality also made life for her difficult as the wife and mother of a young family on a limited income. What a recipe for financial disaster they both were.

So my parents divorced, and ironically, the finances got worse for both. My mom, already an organizational nightmare, had to handle work, children, a house and pets on her own. My dad let his anger at my mom get the better of him and quit a good job with a future and stumbled around from job to job the rest of his life. It was rather pathetic and he died utterly broke. My mother has been saved a pauper’s end by marrying a man who was educated, always employed or self-employed and good at investing. He came from a family of entrepreneurs who also invested wisely.

Before my mom married Bob she made a whole host of poor life choices, which, when added to her lack of fiscal aptitude, my dad’s irresponsibility, and periods of serious illness, left us rather in the lurch as kids. There just was never enough to get by. Bills were always late getting paid. The car went without needed repairs. I went through a period where it seemed like I never had a pair of shoes without holes, or enough clothing, or a warm coat. Usually at some point, one of my grandmothers would swoop in with a pair of shoes or clothes. This went on for years. Then I started to get work. When I got into high school I signed up with the student employment service and got work babysitting and cleaning house. When I turned 16 I added food service jobs as well, and in my senior year I also worked at the local intermediate school. I had a lot of jobs! Those jobs paid for my clothing and at least half of my food. At one point, my mom applied for us to get “free” school lunches. I was mortified. I would not take charity. I either bought my own food with babysitting and cleaning money or went hungry. The adults at home were furious with me, but I wasn’t about to go get a handout when I could work for my own food.

Because of this upbringing, personal finances can leave me feeling anxious and sick. It’s that security gland. It’s super sensitive.