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What Money Personality Type Are You? Spender, Idealist, Star, Avoider or Something Else?

By Kathleen M. Rehl May 10, 2021 Mindset

Your money style, whatever it may be, can be helpful, but it can also block your progress. Oftentimes we cling to beliefs about money without even thinking about why we hold them.

They may be based on your money history. Or, if you’re on your own after a divorce or the death of your spouse, that big transition can greatly impact your money style.

Experts, including Olivia Mellan, have defined several money styles or money personality types. Below are some examples of these various styles.

Do You Recognize Any of These Styles in Yourself?

  • Guardians are always alert and careful with their money issues.
  • Spenders prioritize pleasure and enjoyment through spending money on “the good life.”
  • Idealists put the most value on creativity, compassion, social justice, or spiritual growth.
  • Hoarders seek security and abundance by accumulating more financial assets.
  • Stars spend, invest, or give money away to be recognized or feel classy and increase self-esteem.
  • Avoiders don’t pay much attention to money, believing or hoping that life will work out for the best; they may feel incompetent or overwhelmed with money tasks.
  • Caretakers give and lend money to express compassion and generosity.
  • Empire builders and entrepreneurs thrive on power and innovation to create something of enduring value, which may include their own business.
  • Amassers like to have lots of money available to spend, save, or invest. They equate money with self-worth and power.
  • Nesters think that money invested in their homes brings happiness.
  • Bag ladies believe they don’t have enough money and may be out on the street soon. They feel powerless to do much about their financial situation. Many suddenly single women might feel this way at some point, even if only for a short period.

Does Your Money Style Trip You Up?

Sometimes your dominant money style can cause problems. For example, Guardians may prefer ultraconservative investments such as certificates of deposit and money market funds. This tendency may block their ability to build a diversified portfolio over time.

For Avoiders, whose husbands handled most of the family financial issues, it may feel strange to be in a decision-making role about money when this time arrives.

Some women may be fearful they won’t have enough money and can experience the Bag Lady syndrome. That was definitely me immediately after my husband died more than a decade ago.

I suddenly craved safety and security. Facing an unknown future, I felt insecure and lacked self-confidence. But that unhelpful money style dissolved soon afterward as I stabilized my life and moved forward.

Indeed, simply taking a deep breath and not embarking on a radical action may be the best move after a major life change. I re-evaluated my financial situation, calculated my numbers and knew I was going to be OK.

It’s Really About More Than Your Money

Ultimately, it’s not about the money. Rather, it’s about understanding your money and how you react to it. Recognize your natural inclinations toward spending, saving, giving, and investing, and what’s motivating those habits.

As you get to know yourself better, you can make important changes to create the financial life that’s best for you. Have an honest discussion with yourself about your money style.

Are you a saver or a spender? Are you a penny pincher who clips coupons? Do you give too much money to your children? Are you carrying lots of credit card debt?

What’s your money style today? Has your money style changed as you’ve matured? If so, why do you think it’s different now? What’s a positive feature of your money style today? What, if anything, about your money style, may be problematic going forward? Please comment on your money style and how it’s helping or hurting you today. What do you want for the future?

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The Author

Kathleen M. Rehl, Ph.D., CFP®, wrote the award-winning book, Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows. She owned Rehl Financial Advisors for 18 years before an encore career empowering widows. Now “reFired,” Rehl writes legacy stories and assists nonprofits. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, CNBC, and more. She’s adjunct faculty at The American College of Financial Services.

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