My Big, Fat, Spoiled Family Member: Adam

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"Adam loves to spoil himself," Katie says of her brother.

"Since I was 18, I've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on vehicles," Adam admits. "Two Hummers, two boats, two campers, three motorcycles, Tahoes, Camaros, Corvettes … "

"What Adam purchases is definitely a badge of honor," Katie says. "He's proud of all of his purchases and loves to show them off."

"That's what spending money is about: having nice things, showing it off a little bit," Adam says. "I have the same car as my boss. He has a ‘Vette also. The Hummer is so pimped out. How could I turn it down? I couldn't. The camper is sickly ridiculous."

"But Adam doesn't even camp," Katie points out. "Adam loves to be able to tell people that he has something better than they do."

"I saw someone who had a better boat than I, so I went out, and I had to spend $30,000 on another boat," he says. "It's cool to have the same thing as people on MTV Cribs. What am I supposed to do, drive a piece of junk? I think presenting yourself in the right way is very important."

"When Adam heard that we were going on the Dr. Phil show, he went immediately to the tanning salon and had a woman come over to style his hair," Katie explains.

Adam's mother, Lisa, says, "I know something's up when Adam calls me and says, ‘Mom, promise me you won't be mad,' and my response is, ‘What did you buy now?'"

Adam's sister, Liz, sees him leaving for another shopping trip. "Adam's going to the car dealership. I think it's like taking a crack addict straight to the crack house," she says. 

"Car salesmen don't really have to haggle with me too much. I'm like a dream to them," Adam admits. At the car dealership, Adam looks over a convertible sports car, while the dealer tells him all about it.


"Adam is impulsive and reckless with his purchases," Katie says. Although Adam thinks Katie is jealous of his posessions, she says, "By no means am I jealous of his financial situation."

"I'm probably about $200,000 in debt," Adam says. "As long as I can make the payments, I don't see the problem." He also sees room for more. "If I made the kind of money Dr. Phil does, I would buy my own plane," Adam says, laughing. "I have a distinct taste for nice things. It could be worse. I could have no taste at all."

Dr. Phil asks Adam, "Do you worry at all about the money you're spending?"

"Well, to me, worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair. You can do it all day long, but it doesn't get you anywhere," he says. After seeing Dr. Phil's lack of response, Adam adds, "It's a book I read last night: Self Matters."

"You bought a good book," Dr. Phil comments. "You've got cars. You've got boats. You bought a Hummer over the phone because the dealership said it was on MTV Cribs. You say you won't haggle with jewelers because it makes you look like you don't have money."

"If you've got to ask, you can't afford it," Adam replie


"We've got a saying for people like you in Texas: All hat and no cattle," Dr. Phil tells him. "Have you ever heard that? ‘The big hat over there, he doesn't have any cattle, but he's got a big hat.'"

"But he looks good," Adam quips.

"You spend more money on your cars than your house because you say, ‘You can't drive your house,'" Dr. Phil says.

"Correct," Adam says. He explains, "I like driving around, looking good, feeling good. When I'm at home, it's just about me and my wife. I don't have to show off to anybody else."

"What's the payoff for you? You strut all this stuff around, and you like to pull up in the Corvette, you like to pull up in the Hummer, you like to slide up to the dock in the boat. What do you get out of that?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I guess it's like a façade: ‘Hey look at me. I look good. I'm successful,'" Adam explains.

"Do you think this works? Do you think it impresses people?" Dr. Phil asks Adam.

"Some," he says, although he admits, "Probably the people who you don't want to be associated with … But at the end of the day, it makes me feel good that I've achieved this. This is mine."

"And that's the concern the family has," Katie says. "He feels like his success is dependent on what he has."

Dr. Phil reminds Adam that he's nearly $200,000 in debt. "How does that sound when you hear it?" he asks.

"It doesn't sound good when you bring up numbers, but it's fun. It's fun driving around, having a good time," Adam says. "If you can afford it, why not?"

"You can't!" Dr. Phil points out.

"I'm doing it. I'm doing it every day," he responds.

"No, you're not. You're getting so far under water. I did the math. Your car payments are 68 percent of your income," Dr. Phil says, although Adam disagrees. Adam paid $40,000 for his camper, but has only camped twice. "That's $20 grand a night," Dr. Phil points out.

Adam's mother, Lisa, and sister, Liz, say they are concerned about Adam and his spending.

"Does it bother you that it bothers them?" Dr. Phil asks Adam.

"No," he says.

Katie says the family gets frustrated when he calls and asks for their opinion, and then buys the big-ticket item anyway. Adam explains that he hopes someday they'll be proud of him for what he can afford.

"Who are you really though, if you take away all the toys?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I'm just a guy who likes to work hard and likes to have nice things," Adam says. He explains, "I read your book. It's about routines. I'm trying to break routines. You know, every day you go to work, you punch the clock, do your thing at work, punch back out, turn your brain back on. Now, I'm walking to my Hummer. ‘Hey, this is working out.' And then I get a new vehicle " I'm breaking up the routine."

"I know the guy who wrote that book, and I don't think that's what he meant," Dr. Phil responds. "Do you really think people think more of you because of that? And why do you care so much what people think?"

"I don't really care so much about what people think. It's kind of how I perceive myself," he says.

Dr. Phil's not buying it. He brings up Adam's $30,000 boat, which he bought after seeing someone with a better boat than his.

"Everybody wants to look good, Dr. Phil, everybody," Adam maintains. "When you're out on a date with a new girl, or with your wife, and you pull up in your nice car, it makes you feel good."

"I like to open the garage door and look at a car that I own," Dr. Phil says. "I have never, ever, one day in my life had a car payment." A photo of the car that Dr. Phil owned in college appears on the screen behind them. "It's not a great car, but I owned that baby. I had no payments. Seriously, I felt better about myself knowing that I owned
what I had. I didn't owe anybody a dime. And I waited until I could afford it before I bought it."

Katie explains that when Adam owns one of his vehicles outright, he feels entitled to go buy another one. "He could own all of these things that he purchases. The problem is that he doesn't keep anything long enough to own it," she says.

"Do you ever wonder if you'll get to the point where you look back and say, ‘You know what? I wish I had that money I wasted'?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah, I do," Adam says. "But I'm having fun."

"But you've got to have some balance between fun and reality, because it doesn't define you." Dr. Phil tells Adam he should at least buy smarter by negotiating with car and jewelry dealers. "All I want you to do is think about the fact that those things do not define you, and people might be laughing behind your back " particularly after today," Dr. Phil tells him. "I mean, really, don't be that shallow. You seem like a really nice guy. You're bright and industrious. Don't define yourself with that stuff."