Everyone can agree that financial literacy is a good thing. When people understand the basics of personal money management, saving, and long-term investing, they're better equipped to make informed decisions about their finances.
But financial literacy alone can only take you so far. Simply having knowledge on a subject is often not enough to overcome a strong emotional desire to ignore certain aspects of the available information.
A good example of this is food labeling. Every package of food at the store carries a standardized nutrition label, which meticulously lists the food value of the item and its recommended consumption within a healthy diet. Yet if you have a weakness for Oreos or Klondike bars or buffalo wings, a few statistics on added sugars are not going to be enough to dissuade you from indulging.
Some of us have it worse than others. Our personalities can make us more susceptible to acting against our own healthy self interest.
Ken Honda, an expert in the psychology of money, spent 10 years researching money personalities. He's identified seven major types along with their typical behaviors and financial pitfalls.1 While these are not scientific psychological categories, we can all recognize these behaviors in people we know, and perhaps even ourselves.
Honda's first three are similar in that they exhibit an unhealthy obsession: the Compulsive Saver, Compulsive Spender, and Compulsive Moneymaker. In each case, this type of person fixates on one aspect of their money in a way that can negatively affect their life.
Another type, the Worrier, is someone who's in a constant state of anxiety no matter how much money they have. You might say this personality also has an unhealthy fixation, in this case on possible negative outcomes.
Two more on his list, the Saver-Splurger and the Gambler are combinations of two compulsive types. The Saver-Splurger shares traits with both Savers and Spenders, obsessively hoarding money and then giving in to the impulse to splurge.
The Gambler shares traits with both Moneymakers and Spenders. It's all about the thrill of risk with the promise of reward. It's not unusual for this type of person to encounter sudden windfalls and devastating losses.
Finally, there's the personality who's simply Indifferent to Money. While they're free from obsessing about it, their lack of any concern can lead to financial irresponsibility. After all, money is the currency of choices.
What seems to be similar among all Honda's identified types is an imbalanced view of money. Whether it's too important or not important enough, each of these reflects an unhealthy view.
Your trusted advisor can help you find balance in this area. A long-term plan will free you from too much focus on your finances. While having someone hold you accountable can help you stay on track toward your financial goals no matter how you're feeling.
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