“Lack of money is never a problem; it’s the symptom of a problem.” – T. Harv Eker
The psychology of money is one aspect of money management that tends to get overlooked when it comes to financial planning and debt counselling. In the financial industry we focus very strongly on products and systems as the means to accomplish goals or solve problems, and we spend very little time uncovering and dealing with the issues that created the problem in the first place or that might trip us up as we start on the path toward a goal.
For me, dealing with the psychological aspect of money management and wealth building was what made all the difference in the world to my own financial situation; and I’ve seen it have a similar impact on clients and friends. In my last post, I wrote about the impact that our limiting beliefs can have on our money blueprint and how what we believe about money, wealth and rich people can get in the way of us developing strong money management and wealth building skills.
In his book, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”, T. Harv Eker explores the idea that each of us has a “money personality” and he looks at the ways that personality can hinder us when it comes to taking control of our money. The idea is that, by understanding our money personality type, we can identify the ways that it might help (and hinder) us. Take a look at the four money personality types below and see which one best describes you:
Not surprisingly the Spender loves to spend money! Spenders gain a great deal of pleasure from spending money, both on themselves and others. They strongly believe in the power of retail therapy and indulge in it on a regular basis. Spenders make great friends because they’re always looking for fun and exciting ways to spend their money and they are often very social creatures. They tend to have lots of “stuff” which often means they need a lot of space to store it all.
The Benefits: Spenders tend to be social and are often very generous friends. They tend to take a happy-go-lucky approach and rarely appear to be stressed about money.
The Challenges: Spenders love to spend but often they don’t worry about whether they’re spending their own money or whether they’re running up their credit cards. A critical part of managing money well, is paying attention to how much comes in and how much goes out. This is often a hard habit for Spenders to adopt because it usually means they have to rein in their spending impulses and find other (cheaper) ways to have fun.
Savers are the polar opposites of Spenders; they are the people who seem to have the saving habit hardwired into their DNA. They always have money in their bank account the day before payday and if their car breaks down or their furnace stops working there’s an account somewhere that has money in it to cover the expense. They never have to borrow from a line of credit or a credit card and having money stacked away is important to them because it makes them feel secure.
The Benefits: Savers find it very easy to live within their means and avoid debt. They tend to be good money managers and often have a very clear system for taking care of their money.
The Challenges: Savers tend to be very risk-averse which means they’re much more likely to keep their money in a chequing or cash savings account rather than in an investment account, where they could make a higher return on their money. Their fear of losing money or not having enough means that they can have trouble spending money on anything they don’t see as totally necessary, including upgrading their home or vehicle, or taking a vacation.
Avoiders often look like spenders because they have a similar carefree attitude to their money and often enjoy spending it. However, as the name suggests, Avoiders tend to be in denial when it comes to finances. Telltale signs of an Avoider are the piles of unopened bills and statements stuffed into drawers or stacked on top of the microwave, and the way they cross their fingers behind their back when handing over their debit card the day before payday! Avoiders often get caught by late fees and penalties, not because they don’t have the money, but because they just didn’t make paying the bill a priority.
The Benefits: Avoiders don’t worry about their finances because they avoid thinking about money wherever possible. They are often spontaneous and fun loving friends who will agree to things on impulse and then figure out how to pay for them later.
The Challenges: The Avoiders’ “drinking from the fire-hose” approach to finances always catches up with them eventually but it can be hard to ditch the habits of a lifetime and adjust to a more structured approach to taking care of their money. Figuring out why they’re avoiding dealing with their money is critical to their financial success.
The Money Monk
This is the rarest of the money personalities; in a room of 400 people you might only find 3 or 4 who identify as Money Monks. People with this money personality don’t feel right about having money when others don’t and so they often go without in order to give more to others.
The Benefits: Money Monks tend to be very caring and giving people. They genuinely want the best for others and are willing to sacrifice their own comfort in order to make things better for someone else.
The Challenges: Money Monks often find themselves with very little in terms of financial assets. They don’t see wealth as important and so they don’t put any energy into creating and building it. Having money makes them uncomfortable and they find ways to give it away, which sometimes leads to them being taken advantage of. Often, their motivation for increasing income or reducing expenses is so they can redirect the money to a cause or person that means a lot to them.
Understanding our money personality helps us build a plan to improve our financial situation that plays on our strengths and also makes us aware of the challenges we might come up against along the way. By taking our money personality into account we can focus on breaking the habits that have held us back in the past and we can concentrate on building new habits that will help move us forward.
Which money personality did you most identify with? How has your money personality held you back? What changes can you make that will help you move forward?
Read Sarah’s other psychology of money posts: