When money comes your way — whether that’s a paycheck, side hustle income, or an unexpected tax refund — what’s your first instinct? How you answer may say a lot about your money personality. Are you a saver, spender, giver, or acquirer? You may be just one, or a combination of two. No money personality is better than the other; each has strengths and growth areas.
It may help to think back to how you handled money growing up. As a kid, I can still remember the joy I experienced as I gave part or all of my babysitting money away. I know — I was a pretty odd kid! But it always came back to already having all of my needs met and wanting to use my money to help others.
Let’s dig into the characteristics of each of the four money personalities:
· Spender: For these people, their first impulse is to spend money on themselves and their family. Too often spenders are characterized in the media as self-centered, impulsive, and not too financially savvy. I’ve rarely found this to be the case. Spenders know how to make the most of their money today. They delight in treating themselves and others. They understand deeply that money is not only meant to be earned but enjoyed. One growth area for spenders is that they may be so focused on today’s desires that they forget to plan for the future. They may have difficulty holding on to the money they have and may be left wondering where their money went at the end of the month. In the extreme, spenders may lack focus in the way they use money, forgetting to take a step back to make sure the purchase really aligns with their values.
Spender Tip: Be sure to put a system in place that helps you prioritize the future and your giving to others so you can enjoy your spending without any regrets. Automate it as much as you can so you don’t have to worry. Utilize the option to contribute to retirement from your paycheck. Set up auto-payments through your bank account for your bills and savings accounts for the day after your paycheck comes in. Set aside money to give to charity. Then, take a close look at what’s left, and take the time enjoy it.
· Saver: For these people, their first impulse is to put their money away toward future goals. The media often portrays savers as stingy people who rarely spend a dime — again, I’ve rarely found this to be the case. Savers are willing to forgo today’s luxuries for the sake of tomorrow’s security. They are often focused on fully-funding their emergency savings, making the most of their employer retirement match (and then some), and making sure all of their ducks are in a row for goals like buying a car, going on vacation, or purchasing a home. But savers often need a reminder that living in the moment is just as important. In the extreme, savers can become so obsessed with their (and their family’s) future security and preparing for every possible eventuality that they become paralyzed, unable to spend money today or give money away for fear of not having enough down the road.
Saver Tip: If you’re a saver, you likely already have a money management and savings system that works well for you. That’s great! As you are working towards those savings goals, be sure to set aside some money each month that you have to spend on yourself, your marriage, or your family. Don’t open another savings account for this money; force yourself to spend it over the course of the month. Get your nails done. Take your partner out to a nice restaurant. Surprise the kids by taking them out for a movie and pizza. As you do this, be present and live in the moment. Remind yourself that this small amount of money is helping you stay grounded and connect with family, and is in no way jeopardizing your future goals.
· Giver: For these people, their first impulse is to give their money away to causes they care about. Givers are often portrayed by the media as Mother Teresa-like characters who sacrificially give everything. Again, I’ve rarely found this to be true — givers can be found at all income levels. Their heart beats for generosity, both in the traditional (giving to charitable organizations) and non-traditional (giving to family, friends, or even strangers on the street) sense. They have deep empathy and desire to use their money to make a difference in the lives of others. Givers hold their money loosely, believing it belongs just as much to their neighbor as it does to them. However, in the midst of their generosity, it can be easy for givers to lose sight of their own present and future needs. In the extreme, givers can get so caught up in helping others that they can unintentionally become a financial or emotional martyr.
Giver Tip: Think of the airline maxim: Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Before you run out to share your money, do something that fills your cup to overflowing so you can share from a place of joy. Buddy up with a saver to help you make a concrete plan for your future goals, since getting your own ducks in a row can help you give freely without regret.
· Acquirer: For these people, they are less concerned with how the money is used and more concerned with how it’s brought in. The joy comes from seeing their paycheck arrive in their bank account and knowing they can pay their bills with confidence. Often the media portrays this type as the (generally male) professional who’s working day and night to bring in as much money as possible. But acquirers come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to be rich, male, or in a traditional white collar job to fall into this category. Acquirers see income possibilities. They are attuned to new ways to bring in money and work diligently toward their income goals. However, because acquirers are so focused on bringing money in, they may struggle to know what to do with it. They may not even know how much money they have because they haven’t taken the time to account for it. Like savers, they may also have a propensity toward wanting to keep a tight grip on the money they have so diligently amassed and may be hesitant to give money away to others.
Acquirer Tip: Remember: The money you have only has value if you are using it well. Take a step back: What is motivating you to acquire more? Are you looking for more just for the sake of it? Are you hoping to use this income to start your own business? Support your kids through college? Travel? Knowing your core values and motivation will not only fuel your acquirer personality but also give you more direction as you determine how to spend, save, and give your money wisely.
Again, none of these money personalities are right or wrong. All have strengths and all have growth areas. I’d love to know: What’s your money personality? Comment below!
Want to dive in and learn more about your and your spouse’s money personalities? Use my Marriage & Money Assessment. Through an in-depth survey, I’ll help you determine your strengths and growth areas as a couple and give you personalized questions to consider to enhance your financial life. For this week only, I’m giving away one of my Marriage & Money Assessments. Comment on this blog post to enter to win! I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday.
Join me on Instagram (sorry, no Facebook this week) this Thursday, April 25 at 8pm Central to explore money personalities and ways you can be a more generous partner. The founder of Maxim Marriage will be my guest. If you don’t already, follow me on Facebook and Instagram to receive inspiration and practical tips throughout the week!
Special thanks to Nathan Dungan, founder of Share Save Spend®, who first introduced me to these money personalities.