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What is your Money Personality?

What is your Money Personality?

| April 18, 2018

Being in the financial industry now for over 10 years, I have become more and more interested in learning about the different types of relationships that people have with money.  It fascinates me to see how individuals react differently to the same financial situation.  It almost makes me think- should I have been a psychologist? But I digress. 

In the late 1960s, a psychologist named Walter Mischel did an experiment with children, in which he left them in a room with a marshmallow. They were told that if they wait, they would get another marshmallow after a certain period of time. Some kids were able to wait it out while some could not control themselves and ate the marshmallow before they could receive the second. Mischel revisited these same kids later in life. The ones who were able to wait when they were young, had better test scores and were found to be more competent compared to the ones who were not able to wait. Interesting results!

I wonder if a similar experiment could help find the results for what I like to call your money personality. In my opinion there are five:

The Worry Wart

The Worry Wart is someone who is constantly worrying about their money. They are looking at their bank accounts and/or investment accounts daily. They are always looking at how much things cost and worrying about prices of goods and services. They always make sure to pay their bills on time and often feel the most relief after all the bills are paid. Sometimes it can be difficult for this person to pull the trigger on a purchase. They often even feel guilty after making a discretionary purchase.

The Spender

The Spender is someone who loves buying things. They are not focused on saving for retirement, college, a house etc., but rather about what they can buy here and now. They love the instant gratification that comes along with the purchase. They delay saving just to purchase one more thing. Spenders buy lavish gifts for others and this is one way that makes them feel good. The spender is all about the here and now and not planning for what comes down the road.

The Penny Pincher

The Penny Pincher is the opposite of the spender. They have a plan in place and want to make sure they are saving the proper amount for each goal they have set forth for themselves. This is the person who might delay buying a new pair of shoes even if they are falling apart, or waiting until they cannot control their unruly hair anymore before booking a haircut. They are always looking for good deals to save money when they make a purchase.

The Side Stepper

The Side Stepper is the person who puts their finances to the side and has not set forth plans or goals for their money. Clearly this can be a person with built up wealth or they could have very little, but it doesn’t really matter either way. They do the bare minimum when it comes to saving, and when it comes to spending they are not being mindful. They just sort of do what they want without any plan in place. This could be worrisome as there is no accountability to what will happen for their financial future.

The Competitor

The Competitor is someone who necessarily is not good or bad with their money, but is more concerned with “keeping up with the Jones’.” If their friends are going on a fancy vacation they are planning one too. If a friend buys a designer handbag they are making sure to get one that is even nicer. Having these traits can be ok if you are also a saver and can afford these luxuries to keep up with friends, but it can be bad if you are a side stepper and not paying attention to the overall financial picture and this could get someone into deep trouble.


Now that we know about the different money personalities, I wonder if the child who was able to wait for their second marshmallow would be the Worry Wart because they are always planning ahead and always wondering in their heads if they should eat that marshmallow or not. Or maybe they end up being the Competitor because if they know if they wait they might have more marshmallows then the person next to them.

Have you figured out which one you are? It is possible that you are little bit of each under different circumstances. Please note- whichever category you may fall under is not a bad thing. It is a tool to help identify your money habits and make better financial decisions going forward.

Next time you are making a financial decision think about how you are feeling leading up to the decision. If you are making a discretionary purchase – ask why? Are you buying that designer handbag just because someone else had one? Are you rushing to take all your money out of the markets because you are worried there will be a crash – even though you know you are investing for the long-term?

As always, you can talk to a professional regarding your money personality. Whether it’s talking to a therapist about uncontrollable spending or a financial professional about how you want to get past your side stepping ways and get a plan in place, there is someone out there to help you become a better version of yourself.  


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.