Who are you…really?
Have you ever noticed that people around you tend to treat money…differently than you? The way one regards money and investing can be vastly different from someone else – yet not many people are aware of what their point-of-view on the whole thing is.
There are a few factors that ultimately determine how you see money:
Your environment growing up
Sometimes it’s tough to shake off the lessons we learned as kids. If we grew up in a household where money was tight, then you might forever be searching for financial security. On the other hand, if the dollars flowed freely at your country home you might not be too preoccupied by money.
If you come from a family of immigrants, people who worked hard to save money while eschewing luxuries, then you might place a totally different value on money when compared to someone whose parents spent recklessly.
The people around you
The feeling of needing to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ is real. It can surface its ugly head if you keep company with people who all view money in a similar way – as a means to increase their status and material possessions. You look at your friends who own nice fancy cars and seem to always be traveling to far-flung destinations and can’t help but hope to do the same…without taking the time to understand if they’re buying these things prudently or are over-extending their finances.
It’s only once we become aware of our habits, impulses and tendencies that we can do anything to change them.
Given the factors above, there are generally three groups of money personalities than people tend to fall into. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Money is for enjoying
If you fall into this group you are…drumroll…a spender! You buy the things you want, when you want them, whether it’s that new dress you caught a glimpse of in the Club Monaco storefront window or a sexy-sleek 60-inch 4k-ULTRA HD TV.
There’s nothing wrong in spending money, especially money that you worked hard for. Life isn’t just about self-denial right?
The problem is when spenders go into debt to finance their shopping sprees. If you are spending money faster than you’re bringing it in…that’s a problem. Going from a spender to a debtor happens quicker than you think and being mired in debt isn’t a situation you want to be in but you can avoid it by taking some very simple steps.
For example, you could set a monthly budget for discretionary spending – for spending on items that aren’t absolute necessities. It can be hard, if you’re already in debt it’s sometimes easier to ignore your finances than to face them head-on…but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.
Take a look at your monthly obligations. How much do you pay on rent, food, clothing and debt payments? You should know the answers to these questions. Once you’ve deducted all the essentials and set some money aside to invest for retirement then you can keep the rest for discretionary spending. Spend it on whatever you like, or let it accrue for a few months if you’ve got your eye on a real big-ticket item.
2. Money is for security
If you believe that money is for security then you are likely a saver. You’re the type to have multiple savings accounts and will probably have monthly and yearly savings goals set up. You’ve got a separate savings account for emergencies and you know that having a soft and fluffy financial cushion can give one a fantastic peace of mind.
While you have no problem living without luxury in order to be financially secure, people in this group can stand to remember that life is meant to be lived…and that money in itself isn’t very valuable – it’s what you do with it. While you’re alive.
So a saver might want to think about making room to treat themselves and also think about mobilizing some of their saved-up funds and make the transition into becoming an investor.
Investors are taking the next step, and figuring out how to make their money work for them. The return one gets from a typical savings account is pretty meagre and if you’ll likely need to take on some investment risk if you want to secure your retirement.
3. Money is for sharing
People in this group tend to be hella generous. They enjoy buying presents for others and using their money to make others, and sometimes themselves, happy.
People in this group tend to give to charity and as a result have pretty solid finances. It’s often very important to their character to donate money and, as a result, will know how much they are spending and how much they can afford to donate.
People in this group are a kind of hybrid of the saver and the spender. They understand very acutely that money can symbolize more than just the ability to pay, and are intimately aware of its ability to change lives.
If you fall in this group be wary of letting your generous tendencies go out of control. It feels great to lavish money on others but oftentimes the best gifts require more in terms of forethought than actual dollars. Sprinkle in a little bit of the investor mindset –i.e. deploy your savings in a manner that will benefit you long-term and you’re all set!
If you’ve been using money inappropriately then perhaps it’s time to admit it. It’s not easy to take an honest assessment of yourself. You probably know more than you’re willing to let on – because facing up to ourselves is often the hardest task of all but the rewards are there if you can work up the courage.
No matter what our money personality is, we can always do better.
If you want to learn more about your money personality, check out this course on creating your personal investment strategy!