Underearners Anonymous (UA) – 12 Step Program

What is Underearners Anonymous and when did it start?

Underearners Anonymous is a 12-step program that allows people to come together and help each other recover from underearning. The program utilizes the same 12-step and 12-tradition format as Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups, although it is not affiliated with any of these other organizations. In the program, underearning is not necessarily just an issue related to money. While money is discussed, it focuses on the individual’s inability to provide for their needs, as well as their inability to accept and acknowledge their own competencies and capabilities. The group was created for individuals who may consider themselves “underachievers,” regardless of how much money they have or don’t have.

The fellowship was started in 2005 by a man named Andrew D. He was a member of Debtors Anonymous and had convinced several other members of the group to form the program, hoping to address more issues that Debtors Anonymous did not. Although Underearners Anonymous follows the same guidelines as Debtors Anonymous, such as not borrowing unsecured money, it focuses on more than just recovery from incurring unsecured debts.

While the program of Underearners Anonymous is still fairly new, more and more individuals are joining the fellowship each day to begin addressing these issues of underearning in their lives. The organization is in the process of creating a newsletter for its members and has free literature available to download on the official website, including the “UA Newcomer Pack,” “Underearning and Thinking,” and more. The fellowship also uses, with permission, the “Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

How does Underearners Anonymous work?

Many of the individuals in the program of Underearners Anonymous often consider themselves “time drunks,” or people who don’t engage in useful activities or pursue goals that will better themselves. In the program, members are encouraged to use the tools of recovery that are provided, most of which can be found on the official website. Once individuals begin attending meetings, they are able to start building a strong support system with others similar to themselves, giving them the realization that they are not alone.

After attending a few meetings, members should begin looking for a sponsor in the program, which is somebody who has worked the steps of the program and can provide guidance and tools of recovery that have worked for them. A sponsor is also someone who individuals can confide in on a more personal level and share things that they may not feel comfortable sharing in meetings. They can provide more information on the program, answer any questions and be available during times of need.

There are other recommended tools of recovery available through the program, such as timekeeping to ensure members are aware of how they are spending their time. Setting goals using the goal pages available on the website can also help members focus, allowing them to write down goals that are beneficial to their wellbeing and measure progress achievement. Another recommendation is to create a savings plan. While money isn’t the entire focus of Underearners Anonymous, money is important to meet basic goal needs, so a savings plan can help members keep track of their spending and save what they are able to.

Other tools of recovery in the program include finding action partners, which are other members who can help “keep you in check,” giving them support and accountability for their actions. It is also suggested that individuals get rid of things that they don’t need, which can help them provide themselves with things they do need to be successful in achieving their goals.

A questionnaire on the official website can help individuals decide for themselves whether or not they believe they have a problem with underearning. Some of the questions include:

  • Do you have little or no money left at the end of the month?
  • Do you cycle from under-working to overworking?
  • Do you dislike your work but take no actions to improve it?
  • Do you fear asking for a raise?
  • Are you afraid of spending money but sometimes go on a buying binge?
  • Are you attracted to isolation?

Why is Underearners Anonymous effective?

In the program, underearning is considered a type of mental disorder, similar to an alcoholic’s compulsion to drink excessively. It provides a chance for individuals to recover rather than try to “fix themselves.” Underearners Anonymous helps individuals begin taking responsibility for their own actions, start changing their unhealthy behaviors, and begin setting achievable goals that will improve their quality of life.

Many members of the program once isolated themselves because of their own dissatisfaction with their circumstances, due to their underearning. The fellowship gives them the opportunity to begin addressing and changing these issues during the recovery process. Feeling angry, depressed and powerless over their situation was something that they had come to accept before entering the program. Once members start attending meetings and working the steps, they are able to find other options and actions to change and begin expressing themselves more fully. Before joining the fellowship, individuals often found themselves trying to “get better” by attending another class or gaining another degree, but realized they still felt dissatisfied because they weren’t utilizing the experience they already had and still maintained those self-defeating behaviors that other underearners have felt.

Recovery in the program focuses on developing a vision and learning what actions to take to fulfill these visions. It also helps individuals develop the courage to know what they need and want instead of taking whatever is available to them. Because underearning is an unconscious problem for many individuals, Underearners Anonymous helps its members begin clearly seeing their true earning and achieving potential.

Underearners Anonymous FAQs

Does the program cost money?

The program of Underearners Anonymous has no costs, dues or fees for membership. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop underearning. While the group is self-supporting through their own contributions, members are encouraged to give what they can, when they can, but it is never an obligation or requirement.

Where can I find a meeting?

On the official website, there are several types of meetings available to members. Although the face-to-face meetings may be temporarily suspended, there are phone and video meetings available, which can be found here. If there are no available meetings nearby, virtual meetings are strongly recommended.

What are the symptoms of underearning?

Although everybody in the program is different, many members experience the same symptoms that can help them identify whether or not Underearners Anonymous is the right place for them.

1. Time Indifference – We put off what must be done and do not use our time to support our own vision and further our own goals.

2. Idea Deflection –We compulsively reject ideas that could expand our lives or careers, and increase our profitability.

3. Compulsive Need to Prove – Although we have demonstrated competence in our jobs or business, we are driven by a need to re-prove our worth and value.

4. Clinging to Useless Possessions – We hold onto possessions that no longer serve our needs, such as threadbare clothing or broken appliances.

5. Exertion/Exhaustion – We habitually overwork, become exhausted, then under-work or cease work completely.

6. Giving Away Our Time – We compulsively volunteer for various causes, or give away our services without charge, when there is no clear benefit.

7. Undervaluing and Under-pricing – We undervalue our abilities and services and fear asking for increases in compensation or for what the market will bear.

8. Isolation – We choose to work alone when it might serve us much better to have co-workers, associates, or employees.

9. Physical Ailments – Sometimes, out of fear of being larger or exposed, we experience physical ailments.

10. Misplaced Guilt or Shame – We feel uneasy when asking for or being given what we need or what we are owed.

11. Not Following Up – We do not follow up on opportunities, leads, or jobs that could be profitable. We begin many projects and tasks but often do not complete them.

12. Stability Boredom – We create unnecessary conflict with co-workers, supervisors and clients, generating problems that result in financial distress.

-underearnersanonymous.org