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Managing Money Personalities

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Money means different things to different people and can motivate people in unique ways. When thinking about how to manage your personal finances, remember that there is not a perfect, one-size fits all strategy. Adapt plans to your personality so that they are easy to follow through on and rewarding. While money is important, it is a tool meant to make your life better and shouldn’t rule your life. The first step to having a better relationship with money, is to first know yourself. Take this quiz to find out your money personality.

A graphic that shows the four money personalities described in the article.

Introduction

I think we all can agree: It’s not always easy to make smart money choices.

But why is it so hard to stick to a budget and save more?

Well, it turns out there’s a reason behind your online shopping addiction. What if I told you, your money habits are just a result of your personality and that you can improve your personal finances by adapting them to your money personality.

We’re going to dive into why people make irrational decisions with their money and how you can hack your brain to improve your financial decision making without it seeming like a chore.

It all starts with a concept called behavioral finance.

Behavioral finance: a sub-field of behavioral economics; it focuses on the study of psychology as it relates to the financial decision-making process of individuals, factoring in variables such as external influences and biases.

In simpler terms, behavioral finance seeks to understand why people act the way they do, especially when their decisions don’t align with what are generally considered smart financial decisions. Why do people buy a car that has payments that are bigger than what they pay in rent? Cardboard boxes are starting to pile up in people’s homes from all the packages they’re receiving from buying things they don’t need online (I may or may not be talking from personal experience on this one).

Dan Ariely, a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics once said, “Wouldn't economics make a lot more sense if it were based on how people actually behave, instead of how they should behave?”

We can make sense of our financial decisions if we identify our own Money Personality. Much like how our personality affects our communication styles, our priorities and relationships, it also affects our choices when it comes to money.

The Four Money Personalities

The Achiever

A woman sitting in a chair; portrays power and confidence.

Traits:

Achievers are defined by their desire and drive to hit their goals. To them, money is an indicator of success and power, so they’ll be motivated to be high earners and show off their wealth with high-end material goods.

Achievers are decisive and generally need little time to make up their minds about something. They are usually DIY investors and prefer to make their own decisions when it comes to their finances, rather than take advice from a professional. Their decisive personality makes them good at striking deals and negotiating for a better price; they don’t hesitate to ask for an extra incentive or feature when making large purchases. They often can capitalize on financial opportunities where others would miss out. When making purchases, they value quality, luxury, high levels of service, and name brands and are not afraid to pay extra for the finer things in life. Because of their decisive nature and desire to make a lot of money, Achievers are prone to making riskier financial decisions. Couple this with their tendency to skip detailed research and not ask for advice, and you get higher chances of encountering bigger monetary pitfalls.

Achievers, Relationships and Money:

An Achieving personality type can cause strain when managing finances in a relationship. Their independent nature leads to making decisions without the input of their significant other. Being decisive, they can feel frustration in having to explain their decisions and go over the details.

Achievers should try to be clearer in communicating their financial goals and habits to their partners and family. One strategy is to set up a formal meeting either weekly or monthly to discuss the household finances. During this meeting they can go over any major purchases, budgetary practices and address any concerns. A moderator can be included in the form of a trusted family member, friend, or professional when sticking points and disagreements arise.

Personal Finance Tips:

To combat the tendency to make quick and risky financial decisions, Achievers should consider creating an Advisory Board to help them think through larger decisions and/or purchases. This could be made up of respected individuals who have attained a level of success that they aspire to. They can also benefit from using  a checklist  before  major purchases that includes topics like:

  • Does this purchase move me closer to my overall goal/advance my development?
  • What risk is involved? How much can I lose and what is the maximum downside?
  • How does this compare to the return/gratification I get from this purchase?

The Enthusiast

Three people jumping in the air, celebrating. Represents freedom, happiness and enthusiasm.

Traits:

Enthusiasts are defined by their desire to explore, try new experiences and enrich the lives of the people they care about. To them, money is a tool to expand their personal freedom and live the lifestyle they want.

Enthusiasts are usually outgoing and free spirited in nature. They enjoy going out to social gatherings and are often very generous with their money, paying for friends or donating to charities and causes they believe in. They like to live in their moment and value experiences and relationships above material goods. Because of their social nature, Enthusiasts will often ask friends and family for advice on money making decisions. They prefer to not have to dive into the numbers and details too much and would rather rely on a trusted source of information.  They often give and receive referrals regarding financial professionals, services and tools they use. They are motivated by short term goals and will work hard to save for trips and will pay extra for unique and novel experiences. Due to their free-spirited nature, Enthusiasts sometimes lose sight of long-term goals to live in the moment. They are prone to impulse spending and give in to the pressure of spending more than they can afford to go out with friends or to keep up with the Joneses.

Enthusiasts, Relationships and Money:

An Enthusiast personality type may need some reigning in when it comes to relationships. Enthusiasts tend to go over budget, which may cause problems when managing monthly household finances. However, they are willing to compromise on spending because of the value they place on people and relationships.

Enthusiasts should try to create joint financial goals with their families and partners. Creating collaborative vision boards can be a fun exercise for Enthusiasts and will help them remember long-term goals. Gamifying money and savings through things like savings jars, contests, or creating creative ways to do things on a budget will also help Enthusiasts manage bad spending habits.

Personal Finance Tips:

While Enthusiasts should be careful about impulsive spending, they need to remember to reward good financial habits to prevent budgeting burnout. They can have financial weekly “cheat days” where they can go out and spend money or buy a themselves something they’ve been wanting if they stick to their monthly budget.

 Enthusiasts should also try to automate savings as much as possible using online banking and other personal finance apps. Since Enthusiasts value social validation, they should have accountability partners that they check in with for more significant financial goals. Telling friends about their spending goals and asking them to keep them accountable will help them avoid overspending in the moment.

The Steward

Woman standing on one leg doing yoga. Represents calmness and peace.

Traits:

Stewards are defined by their desire for stability and harmony. Their goal for money is to create a sense of security that positively impacts other areas of their life and reduces stress.

Stewards are usually caring and calm people. They like a life filled with stability and harmony among their friends and family and don’t appreciate things that disrupt their inner sense of balance. Stewards are some of the most responsible people, especially with money, showing discipline when it comes to budgeting and saving. They are most comfortable at home and are willing to spend extra to create a warm, inviting environment in both their personal and professional domains. They are not tied to material objects and appreciate quality, but not necessarily luxury. Their humble nature allows them to be good at managing their finances, but they should also remember to splurge and treat themselves every now and again. The Stewards desire for stability makes them naturally risk averse, which may cause them to miss out on financial opportunities such as investing and spur of the moment deals. Change and financial emergencies cause extra problems with Stewards, who naturally seek a stable financial situation, so it is imperative that they plan ahead of time to not get caught off guard and further exacerbate a financial hardship.

Stewards, Relationships and Money:

A Stewarding personality type can provide a great foundation for personal finances in a family/relationship dynamic. Their responsible nature will help them to manage bills and stick to goals. However, Stewards generally prefer to avoid conflict, which may cause trouble if they have a partner or family member who is prone to overspending. They run the risk of not speaking up to correct their partner’s behavior, which in turn can negatively impact their own finances. To mitigate this risk, Stewards should consider having their own separate accounts to make sure that they can still hit their financial goals and to prevent others from having an impact on things like their credit score.

Personal Finance Tips:

Stewards are risk averse and may hesitate on decisions that can jeopardize their financial sense of balance. This may cause them to make financial decisions, especially if they are unfamiliar with the subject, that are excessively conservative. This could cause them to lose out on the potential long-term benefits of investing. To help combat this, Stewards should create financial contingencies and safety nets they know they can fall back on, which will help them get outside of their normal comfort zone in other areas. They should also rely on trusted financial professionals to help educate and guide them on topics they are not sure of.

The Analyst

Man standing in front of an ascending bar graph. Represents analysis and investing.

Traits:

Analysts are defined by their desire to learn and plan. To them, money is something to be tinkered with and a means of controlling different variables in their life.

Analysts are studious and logical, preferring to do research on different financial products and strategies before committing to an action. They are detail oriented and like crunching the numbers to make sure they will get their desired outcome. Analysts enjoy using financial technology and spread sheets to make their planning more efficient. Their curious nature leads them to ask questions that others may overlook, even if it doesn’t directly affect their financial outcome. When making purchases, they seek out value and utility and will often try to find thrifty options. While their detail-oriented nature allows them to be effective planners, it can also hinder their ability to execute on a plan. They may seek to have a “perfect” plan that goes into details that are too granular and may forget their end goal.

Analysts, Relationships, and Money:

An Analyst personality type can be a great asset to personal finances in relationships. They enjoy focusing on the details that others may find tedious and can contribute by making sure there is a plan in place to get to a combined financial goal. Analysts must remember that most people aren’t as interested in the numbers as they are and to relate their analysis with desired qualitative outcomes. They should work on communicating their thought process and work with their family and partner to make sure that everyone is on the same page.  When planning and analyzing their money, they should be cautious to not get too caught up in extraneous details.

Personal Finance Tips:

When managing their money, Analysts should make sure to include questions and factors that aren’t just based on the numbers:

  • If I didn’t have to work what would I do?
  • If I had X amount of money and had to spend it all, what would I buy?

This will help them relate their planning to a concrete desired outcome. Analysts should also remember to include action steps and deadlines when creating goals and plans. Focusing too much on the details and being a perfectionist may lead to a case of paralysis by analysis and may hinder them from using their plan.

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