Though researchers disagree on just how much of our personalities are dictated by our genetics and how much comes from the way we were raised, one thing is clear: Your personality has a huge effect on how you relate to money. In terms of financial personalities, there are five major types. See if you recognize your major motivators and behaviors in one of the money personality types below:
In the United States, savers are relatively rare. People with this money personality don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses, and are content with an older car or smartphone. Savers are the ones for whom frugality comes naturally: They fix leaky faucets right away and were the first ones to switch to CFL bulbs when they realized how much electricity they would save with them.Though they can come across as cheapskates to others, savers get their satisfaction from watching their bottom line grow instead of shopping sprees. They’re also typically the ones who can afford to retire early.
The spender is the polar opposite of the saver. This personality type revels in having the latest and greatest of everything, and much of the spender’s self-worth comes from using buying power to look good to others. Spenders are willing to go into debt to get what they want when they want it, and they don’t tend to care much about shopping around for the best price on a trendy new item. Spenders are often seen as fun to be around, especially when their willingness to part with their money includes being generous toward friends and family.
The shopper lies somewhere in between the saver and the spender. Like spenders, shoppers love to purchase new clothes, gadgets and other items that will give them a status boost. They often view shopping as a game to win, though, and also have just as much fun hunting out great deals and finding bargains — which makes them more like a saver at times.The shopper is likely to enjoy extreme couponing and belonging to warehouse clubs, to the point of buying unnecessary items just for fun. Some shoppers make great investors when they turn their bargain-hunting expertise to their savings. Others can’t be bothered if it means having less cash for the next trip to the mall.
The debtor doesn’t think much about money at all, to the point where paychecks are blown long before bills are paid. The debtor doesn’t necessarily have a shopping habit or desire to look good for others. He or she simply doesn’t have any idea where the money is going. Debtors typically owe so much money that the concept of saving for retirement seems completely out of reach. Debtors can often feel so overwhelmed by their finances that it’s easier to ignore the problem than to deal with it.
Investors are like savers with a dash of the shopper’s bargain-hunting savvy. This personality type is willing to risk some savings to get higher returns. While a saver may find it difficult to play the stock market for fear of losses, the investor is willing to risk short-term losses to make long-term gains. The investor is looking forward to a future of financial independence sooner rather than later.
Once you recognize which money personality best describes your behavioral habits and emotional relationship to your cash, you can take advantage of your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. Follow the advice for your money personality, and begin getting a better grip on your finances.
Savers: Loosen the Purse Strings a Little
A saver is never going to be happy throwing money at luxury items, but making room for a treat now and again is what makes life a fun adventure. It’s also crucial for savers to take a deep breath and move some of their money into investments that promise a better return than a standard savings account. The rewards for taking on a little extra risk can be truly astounding.
Spenders: Consider Future Value
Spenders aren’t likely to stop buying things cold turkey, but they can make sure their purchases are worthwhile. Just ask yourself if, in a year’s time, the purchase you’re considering will still make you happy. If the answer is “no,” try placing the money you would have spent on the item into an investment account instead. This way you’re never denying yourself anything you really want, but you’re also contributing to your future happiness and financial stability.
Shoppers: Cut up the Credit Cards
If you have a shopping addiction, your number-one goal is to make sure you never spend money you don’t have. Vow to quit using credit cards at the mall, and switch to a cash system for nonessential purchases. To do this, you’ll need to make a household budget and figure out how much money you have available for discretionary spending each month. Carry that amount with you in cash, and shop whenever you like. When the cash for the month is gone, you’re done shopping until you get paid. If you have extra at the end of the month, deposit it into a savings account for the future.
Debtors: Seek Professional Help
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can’t seem to get your debt under control on your own, it’s time to get help. A professional financial adviser can help you sort out your bills and come up with a plan for paying them off. He or she can also help you begin to save and invest for the future. If you’re overwhelmed, you don’t have to face the problem alone.
Investors: Don’t Settle for Autopilot
Though investors are usually in great financial shape, don’t get too complacent about your monetary picture. You can always take a lesson from savers about using fewer resources and finding ways to live a bit more frugally, which will give you even more to invest. You can also do some research and learn about different ways to use your money to make sure you’re getting the best possible return.
Remember, no matter what your money personality type, you can address your weaknesses and get started down the road to financial independence. All it takes is a willingness to be honest with yourself about your habits and the courage to take the first step.
Photo Credit: Dave Fayram