Whether you know if or not, you have a type – a money personality type. And, the attitudes you have about money will likely impact your retirement. Knowing and learning about your money personality type can help you avoid pitfalls and use your strengths to your advantage for a secure and happy future.
What is a Money Personality Type? How Do You Get It?
Your money personality type is determined by your beliefs, attitudes, values, and habits around money.
Your type has been forged since birth. Your money personality is determined by your:
- Financial education and savviness (as rare as that may be)
- Life experiences
The tendencies of your parents and the circumstances you have experienced all come together to determine how and why you spend, earn, save and invest money.
Want to explore your type? Explore some of these 87 questions to help you understand your approach to money and wealth.
The Different Money Personalities
Money personalities have been defined in many different ways and, as in a personality quiz, many people will likely identify with several of the profiles. There is a lot of research, each with their own spin on personality definitions: money beliefs, spending and your personality, money personality traits, personality and debt, money personality and life satisfaction, personality and financial well being, and the list goes on…
Explore some of the types below and learn how to use your financial tendencies to your advantage for future wealth, security and happiness.
Big spenders are people who are not afraid to spend their money. And, so long as you don’t OVER spend, there is really nothing wrong with throwing your money around.
Some big spenders have had their needs met their whole lives – giving them no reason to fear poverty. Other big spenders grew up quite modestly and spend money to feel a sense of abundance they lacked growing up.
Pros and cons to being a big spender
Pros: The big advantage of being a big spender is that you get what you want. And, being able to part with your money is a skill that not everyone has.
In fact, when it comes to retirement, many people actually can spend a lot more than they are planning on spending. Experts say that many retirees aren’t spending enough!
Cons: Overspending and going into debt is easy. Living on a budget without work income — a necessity in retirement — may come as a shock.
Planning tips for big spenders
- Want to spend? Fine, but maybe shift spending to things of value, not disposable items that get pittered away.
- Be sure you are spending for happiness.
- Automate retirement savings or try other tips to make sure you are saving for your future.
- Make sure you are investing your money for growth.
- Understand your motivations for spending. If acquiring stuff is a proxy for love, affection or as a past time, you might want to rethink your spending.
- Explore tips for cutting retirement costs. (When you are rich in time, it’s easy to spend less.)
- Before spending, be sure to check to make sure that your retirement savings are on track! Will your money last as long as you do? The NewRetirement Planner can show you your range with optimistic and pessimistic assumptions.
- Set a detailed retirement budget. The NewRetirement Planner enables you to set both necessary and discretionary (nice to have) spending levels.
It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Over savers are likely to be people who count pennies. They are apt to turn off lights when leaving a room and shop with coupons. Savers usually avoid debt since paying interest is often akin to throwing money out the window.
Many savers have experienced financial hardship and they don’t want to ever experience that again.
For more perspective on over saving, explore: Advice from People Who Have Saved Too Much and How to Know if You Are Saving Too Much.
Pros and cons of being an over saver
Pros: Savers know how to make the most of every dollar (and cents).
Cons: Savers sometimes miss out on enjoying life. And, they might be apt to delay retirement because they really fear spending their hard-earned assets.
Planning tips for over savers:
- Don’t be afraid to balance enjoyment of life with your natural tendency to withhold spending.
- Reassure yourself with contingency plans for everything that worries you about retirement. The NewRetirement Planner enables you to create multiple scenarios for almost anything and everything that might happen in the future.
- Know why you are conservative about your money, understand your motivations.
- Create worst case scenario lists for what you think might go wrong. And, also for what you might be missing out on if you don’t spend money. Assess which options will give you the least amount of long term regret.
Some people are eagles – keeping a watchful and wise eye over every financial metric. They go beyond balancing their bank accounts, they monitor and manage every penny and carefully watch credit scores, rates of return, investment fees, tax liability and so much more.
Power planners are constantly weighing the trade offs of different financial strategies. They might even create their own spreadsheets and use multiple retirement and financial tools online.
Power planners want knowledge and control over all else. They create infinite contingency plans and can be pretty sure that there is no way they will ever run out of money.
Pros and cons of being a power planner
Pros: Being on top of your money is great. Long term financial security can give you peace of mind and a great feeling of confidence. However, weekly or monthly checks ins are probably adequate. And, some data needs only a quarterly or annual analysis.
Cons: Sometimes it is better to set your financial plan and then forget about it. Reacting to financial information too often can cause bad long term decision making. Furthermore, some power planners can be like a bride or groom who obsesses over all the party planning details and aren’t prepared to really enjoy the party in a meaningful way.
Plannning tips for power planners:
- Try not to react to information. Develop an Investment Policy Statement to give yourself long term guidelines for financial decisions.
- Create a plan and stick with it. Buying and selling too often or changing your tax strategies might cost you instead of saving money.
- Use a fully detailed online Retirement Planner to make check ins and updates easy.
- Plan for what you want to do and how you want to enjoy life as much as you plan for how you are going to pay for it.
- Always assess what and who is important to you.
Driven by Emotions to Spend
Emotional shoppers are people who derive a lot of positive emotion from shopping. A new car, dressy shirt or even just a grande latte can give them an outsized emotional boost.
If you are on budget, extravagances are okay. But, emotional shoppers are also dangerous investors because they tend to overreact to market fluctuations.
Emotions – especially fear – are what cause people to sell low (and buy high) – which can have a devastating effect on your long term prosperity.
Pros and cons of to using emotion for financial decisions
Pros: Emotions were once considered pretty negative. We now understand that when channeled appropriately, emotions can focus us into action.
Cons: There is nothing wrong with emotion, but understanding how it is motivating you can be useful.
Tips for emotional decision makers
Bargain hunters are always looking for the best deal. And, they sometimes buy things because they are a bargain, not because they need it.
Bargain hunter investors often buy low cost stocks that are actually a risky bet.
Pros and cons to being a bargain hunter
Pros: It is always good to look for good deals. No one should overpay for anything.
Cons: Bargain hunters are too focused on the price and not on actual value.
Planning tips for bargain hunters
- Always ask yourself if you really need to make the purchase, or are you being lured by a bargain.
- Be careful of taking too much risk with your investments.
- Think about creating a balanced investment portfolio that aligns with your spending needs. (Try a bucket approach, for example as a way to take some risks, but also cover what you need.)
- Consider the downside of all purchases.
- Make sure you are balancing your need to reduce spending with what you really want in life.
Debtors are people who spend more than they earn. It might be circumstantial – your car breaks down and you need to get it fixed. Or, debt might happen because you just aren’t managing your monthly budget.
Pros and cons to debt
Pros: There is not really an upside to credit card debt. However, using credit to manage money is usually not a problem. And, using debt to acquire things you need and would spend money on otherwise – a house or car – can be an investment in your future self that pays off.
Cons: Debt is costly. You are using your hard-earned money to pay interest to use someone else’s money.
Tips for debtors
- Not paying off your balances in full – every month – is a costly habit. Get credit cards under control.
- Create a plan for minimizing your debt.
- Use the NewRetirement Planner to see how much your financial profile improves by accelerating debt payments or consolidating debt into the lowest cost account.
- Learn about the financial concept of scarcity. (Sometimes you self sabotage by overindexing on the one thing you need more of.)
- Need help? Consider a debt consolidation service.
Sharers are people who love spending their money on other people. They might blow the budget over the holidays or contribute too much to a charitable fund. And, most commonly, sharers might over contribute to their children’s college expenses (or their parents care giving) over their own retirement savings.
Sharers might also scrimp on their retirement lifestyle so that they might be able to leave a larger inheritance to children.
Sharers sometimes just like giving. Other times they are looking to boost their ego with their largess.
Pros and cons of sharing your wealth
Pros: Giving is one of the surest ways to boost happiness.
Cons: If you don’t have it to give, you are really hurting your short and long term financial stability.
Tips for sharers:
Risk takers are people who are willing to put their finances in danger in order to reap a higher return or bigger reward.
Risk takers might buy a home that is too expensive in the hopes that their incomes will increase over time. Or, they’ll invest in a stock at an early stage in the hopes that they will see massive returns. They might be willing to bet big on starting a retirement business.
Pros: No risk, no reward rings true. And, you need to invest aggressively enough to try to at least keep pace with inflation.
Cons: Taking risks is necessary sometimes, but you shouldn’t put money that you are going to need in peril.
Tips for Risk Takers:
- Try creating a bucket strategy for retirement investments. Invest money you might need in the long term with some degree of risk, while money that is needed for short term spending should be put in conservative vehicles.
- Downsize if you are in a home with too big of a mortgage.
Conservative Money Managers
The opposite of a risk taker is a conservative money manager. Conservative money managers are really worried about financial risk and often avoid putting their money to work.
You might think that these types are relatively rare. However, in 2017, 58% of Americans held investable assets in cash.
To be clear, cash is not a good retirement investment. Keeping your savings in cash is like holding onto seeds and never planting a garden. If you plant seeds and tend to them, they will not only produce more seeds but also plants and fruit or flowers. Similarly, if you invest your savings, you get investment returns that can be reinvested to keep growing more and more.
Pros and cons to conservative money management
Pros: Being conservative is absolutely necessary with some of your finances.
Cons: Being conservative with your money can cost you in the long run. You need your money to work for you.
Tips for conservative money managers
Funnily enough, the first piece of advice for conservative money managers is the same as it is for risk takers. Balancing risk and reward is important for most people:
Avoiders – Like an Ostrich Burying their Head in the Sand
You probably aren’t an ostrich if you are reading this article. Ostriches hide their heads from financial information.
They typically make ends meet month to month by luck or instinct, but do very little long term planning. Avoiders sometimes believe that they don’t deserve money or that money is not the most important thing in life. For an avoider, pursuing wealth can be as stressful as not having wealth.
Pros and cons to avoidance
Pros: Money avoiders don’t overtly worry about money, so that might be considered a plus.
Cons: While ostriches live seemingly care free, many have underlying financial stress. Ostriches often don’t save adequately for retirement and that can be a little nagging source of worry – whether they acknowledge the voice or not.
Tips for ostriches:
- Start with creating a financial plan. This is good long term planning that can help motivate you to pay attention to money now.
- Or, start smaller scale, just figure out what you are spending this month. You will learn a lot. Find a method for budgeting that will work for you.
- Select one day a month to pay all your bills and figure out your finances.
- Be sure to have an emergency fund in place.
Know it Alls
Know it alls are people who say that they know a lot about personal finance. They are quick with a stock tip, know the ins and outs of Roth conversions, and seem to have it all figured out.
And, some people do know a lot about personal finance. However, a 2017 survey suggests that financial literacy is lower than even most people might expect. Fidelity asked more than 2,000 people — half who were between the ages of 55 and 65 and not retired — questions in eight different retirement categories.
The average that people got right was a mere 30 percent. Absolutely nobody got all the questions correct and the highest overall grade was 79 percent.
Can you do better? Take the quiz now.
Pros and cons to knowing it all
Pros: There is a lot to be said for having financial knowledge. Reading as much as possible will likely help you make better decisions.
Cons: It is probably better to acknowledge what you don’t know rather than think that you know it all.
Tips for know it alls
- Remember, the wisest among us know what they don’t know.
- You might learn more and get a fresh perspective by collaborating with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional from NewRetirement Advisors to identify and achieve your goals..
- Always be open to new ideas. Try different what if scenarios in the NewRetirement Planner to test your own and others’ assumptions.
Optimizers are people who want to make all the “right” decisions. They want to allocate every dollar to maximize returns, minimize taxes, and spend at efficient levels. They want to get the most out of every dollar and every financial decision.
Pros and cons to optimizing your money
Pros: Optimizing to get the most out of your money can… get the most out of your money which most would agree is a great thing. And, many optimizers really love working on they financial plan. It is fun.
Cons: It can take a significant investment of time and emotion to optimize every single financial decision. It can be stressful and take you away from things that might matter more.
Tips for optimizers
- Make sure that you enjoy optimizing.
- Assess if your optimizations are in line with your goals for your money.
- Don’t let a focus on optimizing stress you out.
- Leave room to be flexible as circumstances change.
- Time box your financial planning effort.
- Remember, there are no right answers, just “right for you” answers.
What’s Your Personality Type(s)? Try Running a Scenario As Another Type
Did you identify with any (or a few) of these personality types? Did you learn anything that makes you want to change something in your NewRetirement Plan?
It might also be useful to run a Scenario in the Planner from a perspective that is different from your own. For example, if you are an optimizer, try running a scenario from a spender point of view. Assess what you learn. Use Scenario Comparisons to see the difference in outcomes and assess if there is anything you might want to change in your own baseline plan.