Your Financial Personality Type (Part Two)
Read part 1 here
In part one of this blog series, (see Your Financial Personality Type (Part One)), you reflected on whether spend and save money like the cowboy, the great gatsby, avoider, avid accountant, or penny pincher. If you haven’t read that blog post, yet, I encourage you to check it out. This post will explore the possible “why” behind your financial behaviors.
It may be surprising to read a therapist’s blog posts on financial behaviors. Your surprise comes from the fact that financial behaviors are often ignored or purposefully avoided by mental health professionals due to intimidation or feared incompetence around the subject.
Money is certainly a sensitive topic sitting on the “do not touch” shelf along with religion, politics, and sex in everyday life. But therapy isn’t Thanksgiving dinner at grandma’s or a job interview. So let’s get into it.
Just like your personality in general, you walk around with a lot of strengths, but a lot of room for opportunities. Type A people may be great at getting things done, but their stressed out nature might be hurting their relationships, triggering loneliness in their life. Type B people may be great at smelling the flowers, but will they have the drive to get out the hoe, seed, and mulch after the flowers get wiped out by a raging tornado?
If you are someone who likes to take risks, gamble, and practice impulsivity with your money, it is possible you feel constricted in your everyday life and thirst after freedom. It is also possible you grew up in a household where money seemed to grow on trees and seemed effortless to come by.
Easy come, easy go. Or maybe you feel lost and by throwing caution to the wind, you secretly hope to fail so that someone will finally come to your rescue and give you the attention you’ve been craving.
What can Cowboys do to improve? Try using only cash for a whole week. Put your credit cards away, put only the amount of cash that you can afford to spend for that week in your wallet, and see how much harder it is to spend.
Do you find your values change? Now try it for longer. Still feeling risky?
The Great Gatsby
If you are someone who is generous beyond normalcy, are you also someone who lives with social anxiety? Perhaps you feel a deep sense of insecurity, so you overcompensate for that perceived deficit by paying for drinks, buying extravagant gifts, and showboating nice cars, jewelry, and clothing.
Maybe you fear abandonment due to your perceived deficits. Are you worthy of relationships just as you are? Or do you need to hide behind an arsenal of “stuff” to get people to accept you?
What can Great Gatsbys do to improve? Check out the suggestion for the cowboys. Also, what are your strengths? Have you thought about what makes you great lately? Try out this amazing free strengths-based self-assessment called the VIA Character Strengths Survey: www.viacharacter.org
Maybe it is time you redefine your worth and lead with those strengths instead of your wallet or fancy new whatever. As much as we wish we could get real love from “stuff,” the truth is, we need human connections in order to thrive.
A Fendi bottle of perfume can’t tell you how funny you are… yet.
So you don’t really like to think about money, huh? You’d rather pretend it’s not there like a giant wine stain on your carpet and cross your fingers that your mother-in-law won’t move the ottoman that’s covering it at the next family holiday?
Perhaps you suffer with anxiety in your everyday life and making no decision seems easier than possibly making the “wrong” decision.
What can Avoiders do to improve? Baby steps. Compare your fear of finances to your fear of, (say), spiders. If you want to get over your arachnophobia, one way to do it is to gradually expose yourself to the creepy demon.
You might look at pictures first, then look at a real spider behind the glass, then without the glass, then touch it once with your pinky finger, etc.
First, look at your assets. What do you have? Then, look at your debt. What do you have? When you’re ready, subtract them against each other. What do you have? That’s your net worth.
Next, take your hand off the outflows section of your bank statement and look at how much you spent last month. How much did you make? Subtract them against each other.
What did you save? Then, break down your expenditures into categories so you can see where your money is going. Get on www.mint.com and connect your accounts so that you can develop a budget and keep better track of everything going forward.
After you get the basics down, you can talk to a financial advisor or start reading up on things like investing and how best to use debt.
The Avid Accountant
Let me beat you to it and burst your bubble– you don’t know as much as you think you do, Avid Accountant. Also, aren’t you exhausted keeping such close tabs on every aspect of your financial portfolio obsessively?
Perhaps this is one of the only aspects of your life you feel you have control over. The truth is, until you address the areas in your life that feel out of control, your anxiety will be difficult to subside.
Over-controlling your money won’t help you feel better about an ailing loved one or a body weight problem or a teenager with behavioral issues.
What can the Avid Accountant do to improve? Practice mindfulness to start getting used to dealing with the unpredictable nature of life. The truth of the matter is, you can’t control everything and you certainly can’t control other people.
Taking control over your money is not a suitable substitute for feeling in control of your relationships or values. Try exercise, meditation, yoga, breathing deeply, counting five things in every room that please you or that you are grateful for.
There are so many coping mechanisms that can help with this type of anxiety. Talk to your therapist (or your future therapist) about what else you can do.
The Penny Pincher
Dear Penny Pincher, sometimes if you love something, you have to let it go. It might come back to you stronger than ever. Maybe you’ve heard this about relationships, but it can be true about your money, too.
You fear investment, but do you realize that letting your money sit in cash is actually equivalent to losing money every year? Never forget how hungry inflation is. It eats away at the value of your dollar every single second of the day. GULP it took another bite. You should absolutely have an emergency fund, but you tend to go overboard.
What can the Penny Pincher do to improve? Check out Avid Accountant opportunities because both of you live with similar anxieties around change, distress, and control.
Perhaps you were raised in a family where money was very hard to come by and you dread ever living in that kind of environment ever again. Fair enough!
But how can you trust that you are not a spendthrift and are responsible about saving and then invest your savings to make more? Write down your goals and write down how you plan to get there. Will you let your fear of losing everything stop you from achieving your goals?
Most importantly a suggestion for ALL of the personality types– Call a financial advisor!!!
You don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to have a financial advisor, just like you don’t need to be on death’s doorstep to call a doctor or therapist. Financial health is so important and having a third party who you can trust to help you make the right decisions, is worth more money than you could ever save, spend, or gift away.