Discussing money in relationship to our personalities can be a bit tricky. It’s probably important to separate handling money as a commercial or global activity from personal finances. While not necessarily likely, it’s imaginable that an economics expert could have her finger on the pulse of global macroeconomics, be a genius at theory and yet not manage her own investments well. We see other people’s money differently than we do our own. In this article, we will look at our relationship to our own money.
Our relationship to money is much like any relationship – there are various unique factors that come into play for each individual. That doesn’t mean there aren’t shared tendencies based on personality traits. In fact, that’s exactly where this article is heading. But there is also plenty of room for variations within the personality role groups discussed below. These variations, in fact, can make the discussion all the more interesting.
The Analyst and Money
Most Analysts would likely revel in any grand model of an economic system and enjoy exploring the strategies around finance if money held an interest for them. They enjoy creating projections around different trends and influences. While money by itself may not be much of a motivator for Analysts, the dynamics around money could prove captivating to their imaginations. As with most things, for the Analyst, money is part of a larger puzzle to solve or a system to master.
If there is a word of caution for Analysts, it would be to remind them of their tendency to miss the trees for the forest. They think in terms of larger concerns and greater impacts instead of the mundane details of everyday life. The word “absent-minded” is used to describe some personality types within this group for this reason.
With money, forgetting small everyday concerns can add up in time to major problems. Not thinking to put money aside or forgetting to pay the electric bill has its impact. While an Analyst may be entranced with macro views of how money works, they may forget to keep their own houses in order.
The Diplomat and Money
Diplomats are the least likely personality type group to use money to motivate themselves. They tend to be idealists who see themselves as part of something larger than themselves and are most likely to look for a purposeful mission over a cash payout. Chances are good that they will think in general terms about how they are using their money. They will lean toward spending and saving in socially and ethically responsible ways. While they work to earn money, in some ways, they also see money as an energy or gift to give and to receive.
However, Diplomats may not be as careful as they could be about keeping their books. Doing so might feel too much like data-collection. They typically shy away from anything as detailed as a string of numbers or complex graphs.
Another area for caution may be their altruism. They may at times give more to a good cause than they can reasonably afford to. Or they may be taken advantage of by someone who appears to be in need. Diplomat parents may sometimes find themselves “benevolently” financing their children well into adulthood – sometimes even if it creates hardship for the parents.
The Sentinel and Money
The responsible Sentinel is more likely than personalities belonging to other groups to build a healthy nest egg. They will prescribe to the classic principles of good personal finance. Sentinels will tend to spend prudently and invest and save wisely.
As opposed to Analysts or Diplomats, Sentinels are most likely to see work and money in a more practical way. Like anyone, they would prefer a job that is important and interesting. However, that may not be an essential quality for them when seeking a job. To Sentinels, earning a paycheck to support themselves and their families is enough. Perhaps more than the other groups, they see money the same way. Cash is a workhorse with all kinds of practical, down-to-earth implications. For them, there is nothing romantic or inherently exciting about it.
The cautionary note for Sentinels has to do with their lack of an adventurous spirit when it comes to finances. The investments that pay off most are usually also high-risk investments. The risk-averse Sentinel may want to consider blending just a few riskier investments into their otherwise low-risk portfolio to boost its vitality.
While a frugal life is admirable, it can also limit life experiences if overdone. For example, maybe spending a little money to travel is not such a foolish expense. Recent research suggests we are usually happier when we think back on our life experiences over thinking about the things we own and the numbers on our bank statements.
The Explorer and Money
The daring Explorers may not throw their money away, but they are likely to see cash as more fluid and in play. They are also more likely than the other personality types to look at their money as a way of keeping score. They are also the types least afraid of risk. Where the Sentinel sees financial danger, the Explorer may see opportunity.
On the other hand, some Explorers might regard the science of personal finance as a craft or skill. While they usually prefer hands-on craftsmanship, it’s conceivable that they would take pleasure in mastering their money if it feels like a game or a challenge. They are less likely to cling to traditional principles of management and more likely to look for more creative ways for dealing with their cash. That doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t use standards if they find it can help them win their financial games.
The Explorer might practice caution when it comes to risking their money too freely. They also tend to chase after the next novel experiences that come over the horizon. Depending on the specifics, such pursuits could be costly. In many ways, advice to the Explorers is the polar opposite of advice to the Sentinels. Where the Sentinels may err on the side of caution, Explorers may hurl themselves into uncertain financial waters.
Explorers may need to learn to think more about the future and to engage more aggressively in finding ways to protect that future financially. More than the other types, Explorers live for the moment. While this approach can lead to exciting and fully engaged lives, in present, it can fail to heed the future and leave one unprepared for emergencies or retirement.
As with all aspects of our lives, our personality traits influence the way we view and handle money. Each personality type is prone to some positive tendencies when it comes to spending, investing and saving. Each type shares some tendencies that raise red flags as well. A little introspection concerning these things can help build a more stable financial life. Which apply to you?