DECODING YOUR MONEY PERSONALITY

I thought this article was going to be about one thing when I started typing.  But as I typed, something else came out.  Here it is.

I remember when I first heard the story of my great-grandfather, Cecil Huguenin.  Cecil was born a slave to a black slave mother and white slave master father.  He escaped from his slave master and went on to become a successful farmer in the South at a time when a black man could be lynched for merely looking a white man in the eye.  Talk about beating the odds.

That story stayed with me and I like to think that my great-grandfather’s spirit lives on within me.  I have always strived to be self-sufficient financially, calling my own shots like he did, and many of the decisions I’ve made, both good and bad, have been shaped by that legacy.

We all are shaped, to one extent or another, by our environment, family, experiences and education.  This impacts how we make decisions and how we think and that includes when it comes to money. 

Whether you realize it or not, you have a money personality and it drives you in your decisions when it comes to earning, spending, saving, investing and giving your money.

After reading a lot of books on money and personal finance, observing hundreds of people around me, taking courses, gaining a lot of experience from my own life and working with many others and helping them with their money both as a FINRA registered rep and as a financial coach, I have realized that there are four basic money personalities.  I will share those four general types with you here. 

Now understand, there are no hard and fast rules here.  There are variations within each personality.  My intention is that as you read about them, you come to understand why you may do some of the things you do with money and how you can use that information to make better financial decisions going forward.

THE SURFER

The Surfer is a free-spirited soul and they have no qualms about spending money, either on themselves or on others.  They live in the moment and relish the experiences and things that money can buy.  They range from minimum-wage employees to C-suite executives and beyond.  Some spend within their means and others outside of it.  One of the identifying characteristics of The Surfer is that they get a rush when they spend money.  It makes them feel good. 

Sometimes though, that spending takes the form of retail therapy where the spending is done in an effort to lift their spirits.  Face it, everyone likes buying nice stuff, we all do it.  But The Surfer has a higher risk of spending to feel good than the rest of us and as you can imagine, that poses some risks.  So if you recognize you have the traits of a spender you need to constantly perform self-checks to make sure that you are not over-spending to the point that you are harming yourself or your loved ones in the immediate present and the long-term future.  Let’s recap The Surfer:

  • Free-spirited spender
  • Lives in the moment
  • Prizes experiences and emotional highs that come from spending

Strengths:  Knows how to enjoy life, can be fun to be around, can be generous to those around them

Weaknesses:  Can be more susceptible to impulse spending, can fall victim to “retail therapy,” can confuse having money and “stuff” with having happiness

Tips:  Use a budget, put limits on spending and track where your money goes.  Avoid using credit cards and spend cash or use a debit card instead.  Use the 24-hour rule by waiting 24 hours before making an impulse purchase.  If after 24 hours you still feel the need to buy it, go ahead.  You may often find that the urge has passed and that you don’t need it as much as you thought you did.  Continue to be generous, but, beware that people do not take advantage of you for what they can get out of you materially.  If your spouse is a Soldier, make an effort to understand how you can address their concerns and make mutual compromises that make both parties happy.

THE SOLDIER

This personality is in many ways the opposite of The Surfer’s.  Rather than spending impulsively and freely, they tend to be more regimented.  They prefer rules and budgets that govern spending and don’t feel comfortable when they are pressured to live outside those limits.  These are the savers and value the security that comes from a large emergency fund or a pile of cash stashed away in some form or other.  They are more defensive in their handling of money, preferring safer investments like annuities and CD’s even though they come with lower returns, because they treasure security above risk.

Extending the need for security, these folks are more likely to buy insurance policies like life, long-term care and disability.  Soldiers prefer to keep the castle strong.  They have to be careful, though, that they don’t become so tight with spending that it hurts their ability to enjoy life or share what they have with others, within reason of course.  To recap The Soldier:

  • Cautious mindset when it comes to money
  • Thinks and plans defensively
  • Prizes security over and above possible gains from riskier investments

Strengths:  Loves to live within their means, doesn’t overspend, takes time with purchases, understands the value of the protection that comes from different types of insurance

Weaknesses:  Too much caution can cost in terms of missed investment opportunities, can resist spending to the point that it harms relationships, can over-stress over “what-if” scenarios that have little chance of happening

Tips:  While budgeting is important, don’t be a budget Nazi.  In other words, be a little more liberal in areas of personal and entertainment spending and cut your spouse some slack.  Be careful not to over-insure in a quest to have “complete” protection.  Balance is key.  Be open to higher-risk investments like aggressive mutual funds that have a solid track record of beating the 20-year average stock market return.  Don’t be a “cheap-skate.”  If your spouse is a Surfer, try to see where you can compromise to make things less stressful for the two of you.

THE FIRST RESPONDER

This particular personality is generally embodied in a big heart.  They are characteristically empathetic and self-sacrificing.  All too often their mantra is “Can I get you some money?”  These are kind-hearted people though.  They gain joy from helping others whenever and wherever they can.  They can be more easily guilted into lending or giving money, even when there is no cause for such guilt. 

First Responders can also become enablers for financially irresponsible people.  If there is a cause, disaster or other emergency they are the first to reach into their pockets and give of their means of living, even if it hurts them personally.  Caution is needed here because you cannot help others if you cripple yourself so badly that you cannot help yourself first.   Let’s review the The First Responder:

  • Generous
  • Self-sacrificing
  • Prizes “healing” others by giving out of their means in times of need

Strengths:  Can always count on them to be there, have the ability to empathize with others, are not selfish

Weaknesses:  Can be taken advantage of financially, more susceptible to being guilted into giving or lending money, can disregard their own financial well-being in an effort to help others

Tips:  Don’t stop giving of yourself to others.  But be aware that in giving, you can hurt more than you help.  Enabling someone to be financially irresponsible is not loving them, it is harming them.  When others come to you asking for money, don’t give them a fish, teach them to fish, so to speak.  Offer to get them financial coaching or buy them a course or book on money management first. 

And if you choose to give, do it only when you fully understand the situation and know that there is a plan on that person’s part to address and fix the behaviors and decisions that brought them to this point in their lives.  Finally, look after yourself first and foremost.  Get proper food, rest and exercise.  You are no good to others if you are no good to yourself.

THE HUNTER/GATHERER

Our final personality is adventurous at heart.  They are not afraid to take risks and you will often find them starting businesses, investing in real estate or another higher-yield financial instrument or working solo for themselves.  They enjoy the rush that comes from blazing a new path and reaping the rewards from taking nothing and turning it into something.  They are confident, optimistic and generally happy people.  But, they have to be careful that they do not take uninformed risks that over-extend them financially and put themselves in harms way.  To review The Hunter/Gatherer:

  • Not afraid to take risks when it comes to opportunity
  • Willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains
  • Prizes a high return on investment in everything that touches their lives

Strengths:  Bold, adventurous, not afraid to strike out on their own, has a strong ability to sense a good investment or business opportunity, active at taking action to grow their finances

Weaknesses:  Can become hyper-focused on goals to the detriment of others, can take unnecessary risks, can overlook the feelings of loved ones in a quest to obtain goals

Tips:  Don’t give in to fear and continue to pursue your dreams.  Be thoughtful and take informed risks, meaning don’t get involved in ventures that you have no base of knowledge or experience in.  Educate yourself first, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a given course, seek the counsel of others who have been there before you and then take action. 

Don’t just “jump in” without giving some thought to the risks involved.  And don’t get so focused on pursuing your goals and dreams that you forget about the more important things, like self-care and enjoying time with loved ones.

So, there you have it.  Did you see yourself in any one of those personality types?  Or maybe you saw a little bit of two, or three or even all of them in you!  Maybe you even understand someone else in your life a little better now.  Whatever you saw, take some time to reflect on what you learned today and incorporate that knowledge along with the tips I shared for each personality type.

And, remember, the point is not that one personality is better than another.  Rather, it is to use the knowledge of yourself in such a way that you play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

By the way, can you guess which money personality I am?  I’ll just tell you.  I’m The Hunter/Gatherer.  Like I said, sometimes it’s in the genes!

And, please, take a moment and comment below and share with me what your particular money personality is.

I hope you found that helpful and use it to make positive change in your financial decisions going forward.  If you also know of someone who can benefit from this knowledge, share this article with them.

If you want more help on how to handle your money more wisely, please go to www.Org4LifeSolutions.com.  There you can schedule a free discovery coaching session with me to get a better handle on just what things you can do to take your money to the max level. 

In the meantime, stay safe out there.  Own It, Be It, Achieve It.  All the best!

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