Our personality and our attitudes towards different aspects of our life are what define us. They drive our behavior, shape our world view, and impact our decision-making. Your attitudes towards love, religion, politics, sex, and of course money make up a lot of who you are as a person.
When it comes to money, I’ve noticed most people fall into one of four main “personality” categories: The Free Spender, The Penny Pincher, The Money Maximizer, and The Ignorant.
Which one are you? Let’s look at some of their traits to find out:
“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
If you’re reading this website there’s a very high chance you’re not among the ignorant. Still, I’m sure you know quite a few people in your life who are. The Ignorant are those who “just don’t have time” to learn about or manage their money. Ask them about contributing to a 401(k) or an IRA and they’ll look at you like you’re speaking Latin.
The Ignorant have better things to focus on in their lives. Like why Shawnda didn’t get invited to Cindy’s brunch party on the latest episode of The Real Housewives of Wherever, or whether they’re eligible for the early upgrade on their cell phone plan.
The Ignorant is the worst type of money personality. Not only are they most likely making bad decisions that will cost them over the long run, but they compound the problem by not knowing or caring enough to be better with their money.
The Free Spender
“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.’ – Oscar Wilde
Many might automatically assume that The Free Spender is the worst type of money personality. I disagree.
The Free Spender sees money merely as a tool used to gain possessions. Free Spenders usually equate possessions with worth. They’re generally hung up on brand names and status symbols. To the Free Spender a BMW in the driveway, a Louis Vuitton purse on her arm and a Hermes tie hanging from his neck all represent wealth better than a maxed out 401(k) and a lush savings account.
Free Spenders generally have A LOT of credit cards and will more often than not carry balances on them. The reason I don’t think The Free Spender is the worst kind of money personality to have is because being a free spender isn’t always a problem! There are plenty of filthy rich people who qualify as free spenders, the only difference is that they can afford their habits! Even if you’re a debt ridden free spender you’re still better off than The Ignorant. Plenty of free spenders are aware of the problems their loose wallets cause for them and work hard to get things under control and dig out of any debt they’ve gotten themselves into. The knowledge that they may need to change their ways is what sets The Free Spender above The Ignorant.
The Penny Pincher
“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
Do you sneak your own drinks and candy into the movie theater? Do you obsess over every dollar you spend in your budget? Are you obsessed with clipping coupons and finding sales? If so, you’re probably The Penny Pincher.
The Penny Pincher has worked to hard for his or her money to part with it lightly. Even if that means missing out on some great investment returns for the safety and security of a savings account. Penny Pinchers are generally good with their money, but they don’t handle money in an optimal way. Penny Pinchers often lose sight of the forest for the trees. They spend too much time focusing on the little wins, such as saving a few bucks on socks, and not enough time focusing on the big wins they could make to really improve their financial life.
The Penny Pincher can (and usually does) do very well for themselves financially, but they’ll always lag behind what they could accomplish if they loosened up a bit and took a few more calculated risks with their hard-earned money.
The Money Maximizer
“I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.” – Jay-Z
The Money Maximizer is very much like The Free Spender in that they see money simply as a tool. The difference lies in how they use that tool. Whereas a Free Spender uses their money to buy material goods, The Money Maximizer uses money to create more money.
Money Maximizers treat dollar bills as employees. Each dollar that’s sitting underneath a couch cushion or idle in a checking account is an employee that isn’t pulling its weight. Instead of focusing on clipping coupons and saving a few cents on gas like the Penny Pincher. The Money Maximizer focuses on investing, creating alternate streams of income and reaching their full potential and worth on the job. The Money Maximizer isn’t so concerned with the material goods that money can buy right now, they’re concerned with the freedom and opportunity that it can provide down the road.
The Money Maximizer is the money personality I most closely relate with, and the one I would consider the “best”.
Which Money Personality Are You?
It’s important to remember that no one fits neatly into any one label in any aspect of life. There are varying degrees of each of these personalities and often one person will posses traits from more than one personality category.
While you shouldn’t let a label define who you are, chances are you’ll fit into one of these categories more than the others. Knowing where you fit in the closest is a good way to help yourself determine where you might need to improve: The Penny Pincher could take a few more risks, the Free Spender can lay off the mall and the Money Maximizer could use to “focus on the now” a bit more often.
So which is it? Is your money personality The Money Maximizer, The Penny Pincher, The Free Spender, or The Ignorant?
Recommendation: Whatever your money personality, you can conveniently keep tabs on everything in your financial life with Personal Capital. It’s free, only takes a minute to sign up for, and being able to track your spending, budgeting, investments and net worth right from the Personal Capital dashboard will pay immediate dividends for your finances (and sanity). As I’ve written before, I think it’s the best way to manage your money and investments.