Understanding your spending personality: money doesn’t have emotions
I always tell my clients that money is a tool. It is not positive or negative, it does not have emotion. We, as emotional beings, project our own feelings onto money. Whether it is checking your bank account or investing in your company’s 401k, some people face financial decisions head on and others prefer their head in the sand. There is not one “normal” way to manage your finances, but you do need to identify where you fall on the continuum and find what works best for you.
As a financial advisor, I believe that when working with my clients, it is my job to remove emotion from money and instead talk about it as what it can do for you versus what it does to you.
During my Financial Foundations program, which is 10 items every person needs to have achieved in order to build a solid financial foundation, I take the time to understand my clients’ and their relationship with money. Without having an understanding of how my clients feel about money, I can not provide customized financial advice.
Through questioning, I find out what my clients’ spending personality is and that helps me to shape our future conversations, especially when crafting a spending strategy. In Financial Foundations, we do not create a budget, in fact, I hate budgets. I think budgets are restrictive and they make you feel like spending money is a negative. Also, it’s inevitable, as soon as you create a budget and pledge to stick to it, something expensive happens and your budget is blown. By creating a Spending Strategy, we have a game plan on how you’re going to spend money. And in return, you have a more positive experience and outcome.
If you are wondering what money personality you have, check out my blog posts that break down money personalities. This blog will walk you through different spending personalities and how understanding your spending personality can have dramatic improvements on your wallet.
Understanding Your Spending Personality: How Do You Feel About Money?
To nail down your spending personality, let’s first talk in broad terms about how people can feel and act towards money. Positive, negative, apathetic, never ending, not enough and so on.
I just finished back to school shopping for my older girls. We tackled everything in one day: school supplies, clothes, shoes, backpacks and more. I think I went through every emotion that day.
I started the day excited and determined to cross this big to-do off my list. In the store, items are being thrown in the cart at a record pace. I started to feel overwhelmed by the list of required supplies and all of the options. As the day went on, I was getting tired (and so was my credit card). As every item is being rung up, I am getting nervous and regretting saying ‘yes’ to that particular pair of shoes. At the last store, I just want to hurry up and get the cheapest options we can find, get out of there and let the spending guilt set in.
That was a marathon shopping day, which is out of character for me and a whirlwind of emotions resulted.
Now that we have identified how money makes us feel. Let’s set that aside because money doesn’t have emotions. Let’s determine your Money Personality- without emotions!
Understanding Your Money Personality without Emotions: The Four Spending Personalities
How do YOU spend money? We spend money everyday, we have to spend money to function. Have you ever thought about how spending money makes you feel? In my podcast: Money CHIC: Women and Retirement, I talk about four different spending personality types during episode 4.
Those four spending types are:
The Emotional Spender
The YOLO Spender
The Savvy Spender
Understanding Your Spending Personality without Emotions: The Emotional Spender
Do you notice a correlation between your spending and your emotional state? If so, you may be an Emotional Spender.
When you have a bad day, do you find you buy yourself a treat, token or item to feel better? What about when you have a good day? Do you buy yourself a treat, token or item to celebrate? Landed a big client? Cha-Ching! It doesn’t have to be just stuff, it could be the new dessert at the supermarket that you’ve been eying or the movie on demand that is getting rave reviews. The emotional spender spends money in correlation with their emotions, happy or sad.
I have a client that was getting pretty out of hand with her credit cards. We tried a few of the go-tos to help curb spending: setting parameters, cutting up all cards but one, explaining how this debt is hurting her credit score and future financial self. But, nothing seemed to click.
Through our conversations, I realized that she is an emotional spender. She is a nurse and needless to say, she sees some bad stuff. Most of her spending was after her shifts ended. She was buying to make herself feel better.
To further prove the point, I had her go through her purchases for the past three months and indicate the emotion she was feeling when she made that purchase and if it correlated with a bad day at work. It did. Now that she can identify if her spending is emotional spending and she is now prepared to have distractions or other ways to feel better when she gets home.
An emotional spender may do better with using cash to make purchases versus a credit card. That way if they find themselves spending emotionally, they at least have the restriction of cash on hand versus a credit limit on a card.
Understanding Your Spending Personality without Emotions: The YOLO Spender
You only live once, so you might as well live it up!
“You can’t take it with you!” is the mantra of the YOLO Spender. You only live once, so you might as well live it up! But living it up is expensive. The YOLO Spender, or spendthrift, tends to think about today. The issue with only thinking about today is that your future self will not have a nest egg to rely on.
I have a client that is a YOLO Spender. He makes good money and is always talking about the newest toy he purchased. But when he came to me his retirement and savings accounts were nil and he had a bunch of credit cards in his wallet.
It’s important to understand that YOLO Spender can not be cut off. You can not tell a YOLO Spender to stop spending money, you need to figure out how a YOLO Spender can have fun today but also save to make sure they are saving for the future.
For this client, I had him write down the next couple big purchases he planned to make and the price of them. After conducting a cash flow analysis (that’s a fancy way of saying looking at money in minus money out), we identified he has extra cash and came up with a strategy to save for the first big item (not just buy on a whim) and pay for it in cash. But, the caveat is that for every dollar that is being saved for the big item, it must be matched by a dollar saved in a retirement or after tax account.
Like the Emotional Spender, a YOLO Spender should avoid the cards and instead try to pay for items in cash. Have a few different savings accounts all for the purpose of purchasing the latest toy.
My daughter is a YOLO spender (except she spends my money). When we are in a store and she sees something she “absolutely loves and can not live without” I tell her that when we go home, if she is still thinking about this item three days from now, the next time we go to the store, I’ll think about getting it for her. Guess how many times she’s held me to this? Zero. She could learn a few things from the Savvy Spender.