Have you ever (purely out of curiosity’s sake, of course) taken one of those money personality quizzes? Perhaps it was in a magazine or an online article. Or perhaps you actually searched for it… and then found 15 different quizzes which gave all kinds of crazy labels to your personality? Like other “personality quizzes” there’s some that are pure fluff and others with a bit of rigorous thought actually put into their design. Most just ask a series of questions and then slip you neatly into one of 5 categories. Except, when you were answering them, you found yourself responding “Well, it depends…”. This is why we need to be cautious.
Generally speaking, pigeonholing people into single categories can lead to trouble for them and you, if you’re not careful. We’re complex, multifaceted, people. We’ve got insane willpower in one instance, and are complete wet noodles in another. Slapping a label on and calling yourself a “spender” can actually do more harm than good. Lest you label yourself into a self-fulfilling prophecy and give up before you really start, saying “I can never save money, since that magazine told me so”, it’s important to ask what’s being sold by the one giving the quiz. Is it an attention merchant? Advertising? Content, coaching, and up-sells? Chances are the quiz and resultant categories are designed to either stroke your ego or scare you silly. Either way, it’s toying with your psychology to get you to do something. Frankly, being labeled a “spender” sounds kind of silly. Doesn’t everybody spend money? It’s kind of like exhaling your breath. Gotta do it if you’re gonna live. On what or whom you spend your money, how much you spend in proportion to how much you earn, etc., is the actually helpful information. But that insight can’t be given to you in a quick tabloid quiz.
Earlier I mentioned the assessment tool Money Habitudes. One of the things I like about it is the nuanced insight it provides, if you interpret it correctly. For starters, there’s no judging the habits and attitudes – any of them can be good or bad depending on the context or when taken to extremes. Also, they identify a balance between several habitudes (Security, Spontaneous, Status, Selfless, Free Spirit, Targeted Goals) with one that’s dominant, as being actually healthy. You can be generous, live it up a little with friends, keep a good cushion in the account, and be on track for your goals, all at the same time. It’s what we call a healthy balance.
When we define things in absolute terms, it doesn’t give us any leeway for change or nuanced circumstances. Sure, you may be more inclined to make really specific goals and reverse engineer the steps it’ll take to achieve them, but that’s stuff you can learn. By the same token, being generous with our money and time is a good thing. Generosity is a spiritual quality that needs to be cultivated and as we engage with the world around us, generosity can leave ourselves and others happier and better off. So rather than using the personality types as a label on yourself, use it with wisdom, for pure entertainment value, or simply as a springboard for helping identify who you WANT to be and what strengths to leverage in order to help you become that person. Personalities can change over time. Your financial habits and attitudes can change too, both through passive experience and active intention.
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