March 08, 2007


What are your attitudes/values about money? Do you tend to do things the way your parents did [or do you find yourself rebelling against their example?] … A lot of people [myself included] would argue that “understanding yourself” (i.e., what drives your spending and saving decisions) is critical to achieving financial success. It is very common for money personalities to get in the way of making good choices. A study published by the American Psychological Association found that the #1 source of stress for 73% of Americans was money. This to me emphasizes the importance of exploring our feelings and attitudes about money. The ultimate goal is not necessarily to change your current personality/values to different ones, it is to learn to prosper with the one you have.

Different experts have different names for these money personalities. Jordan Goodman, author of “Master Your Money Type: Using Your Financial Personality to Create a Life of Wealth and Freedom” summarizes money types as:

STRIVERS. You are all about achieving success and letting others know just how successful you are by buying lots of stuff. Money equals success. Ambition is the upside; overspending is the downside.

OSTRICHES. You are uncomfortable with money, even confused, intimidated or embarrassed by it. So you bury your [financial] head in the sand. The upside is you’re not consumed by money and you focus on more important things in life; the downside is eventually you’ll wind up regretting your avoidance of money problems and not setting financial goals.

DEBT DESPERADOS. You get a thrill from buying, which leads you to overspend. You quickly accumulate debt and may find yourself on the run from creditors. If there is an upside, it is that you likely understand the anguish debt can cause and that can be used to motivate and provide the resolve to get out of it. The downside is overspending is a weakness that is often bailed out through credit cards.

COASTERS. You may be coping or even thriving financially, but a lack of a money crisis has made you comfortable with the status quo. The upside is that you’re organized and responsible. But complacency means you’re missing out on opportunities and greater prosperity.

HIGH ROLLERS. You’re a thrill-seeker and gambler with money, thinking you’re smarter than others and are certain you’ll get a ‘big score.’ The upside is that you’re comfortable with risk, which can pay off with big rewards. The downside is that unbridled risk-taking can be dangerous and can land you in financial ruin.

SQUIRRELS. You hoard your money like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter. You’re intensely afraid of losing money and exert a great deal of effort to spend less. The upside is you’re an excellent saver, but often at the expense of other things money is good for – spending, giving, etc.

A recent study by Putnam Investments outlined six financial beliefs and habits that they found to be most important in achieving financial security:

1. Realistic Expectations
2. Resisting temptation for quick rewards and fads
3. Patience in the face of adversity
4. Greater satisfaction from saving than spending
5. Ability to tolerate above-average risk
6. Receptivity to advice on how to save and invest

What’s your money personality? Are you interested in exploring your attitudes, values, and beliefs about money? If so, here are a few free resources to get you started

Color of Money
- Financial Compatibility Test
- Keirsey Temperament Sorter
- Money Psychology Tests
- Myvesta Money Personality Test
- Putnam Investor Profile

The following ISU Extension publication can also be a useful tool in beginning a dialogue about money and values