“To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.” – Eric Hoffer
I love to read; I have done ever since I was a child. My Mum is an avid reader and our house was always filled with books. I devour books the way that some of my friends devour movies and when I set my goals each month there are three that remain the same: ‘read one fiction book’, ‘read one non-fiction book’ and ‘listen to an audiobook’. (The fiction is my escape, the non-fiction is my education and the audiobook keeps my brain busy when I’m in the car!)
Over the past 18 months my non-fiction choices have mostly been books about finances, the psychology of money and the habits of successful people. One of the books that has really impacted me is “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T. Harv Eker. Over the next two weeks I’m going to share a couple of the concepts from the book that resonated with me and which have helped my clients identify, address and eliminate some of the barriers that were holding them back from financial success and building the foundation for a happy retirement.
In his book, Eker explores the idea that each person has a money personality. His exploration is based on research by Olivia Mellan and he suggests that, when it comes to the way we handle money, people can be divided into four distinct groups. Eker asserts that someone’s money personality can have a dramatic impact on their ability to earn, hold and grow their money and that an awareness of your money personality and how it can impact your finances is the first step in creating positive change. See if you can identify which of the four groups you might belong to:
As the title suggests, Spenders love to spend their money. They like the immediate pleasure that comes from buying things for themselves and they can be generous to others, often picking up the tab for dinner or buying gifts “just because”. Spending money to accumulate “stuff” or to indulge themselves makes Spenders happy but they may also have a hard time prioritizing their spending and putting money aside for savings. Spenders tend to focus on living in the moment rather than looking at the bigger financial picture and they often find themselves in debt because of their spending habits.
Savers love to hold on to their money. They tend to be very organized with their finances, often having a clear, written budget and they always know how much money is in their bank account. Savers watch their spending carefully, often to the point where they have a hard time justifying purchases that seem “frivolous” such as vacations or entertainment. Many Savers worry about their future financial security and they tend to be very conservative with where they choose to put their money, often preferring the safety of a high interest savings account over investments such as mutual funds or stocks.
Chances are that if your money personality is Avoider you stopped reading at the first mention of the word “money”. If you are still reading it’s probably because your Saver friend is making you! Avoiders avoid dealing with money as much as they possibly can. They never know how much is in their bank account and are often late with bill payments; not necessarily because they don’t have the money but because they don’t make paying bills a priority. In many cases, Avoiders consider money to be challenging and complicated and prefer to devote their energy to more interesting things. They tend to be hit with late fees and bank charges simply because they don’t pay attention (Creditors love Avoiders!). You can often identify an Avoider by the pile of unopened bills and statements on their kitchen counter and the way they cross their fingers when they hand over their debit card.
The Money Monk feels that amassing money or giving it undue importance is wrong on a spiritual level. Money Monks tend to give away as much of their money as possible either to good causes or friends/strangers in need. They don’t feel right about having money when others don’t and so they find ways to benefit others without building wealth for themselves. Money Monks will often avoid investing their money because they don’t want to be perceived as “greedy” and the idea of building wealth doesn’t sync with their spiritual, political and human values.
When it comes to creating financial security and building wealth sometimes the most powerful tool can be an understanding of our strengths and our areas of challenge. The psychology of money is an area that is often overlooked when it comes to dealing with finances but factors such as your money personality can have a big impact on your ability to earn, hold and grow money. Awareness is the first step when it comes to implementing change; understanding how an obstacle affects you and then taking action to overcome it will lead to dramatically different results. Which money personality type best describes you? How has it impacted your financial health? How can you use this awareness and understanding to take actions that will help you build a stronger financial future?