Managing money seems like it should be easy and feel like second nature, but for many of us, it feels like an endless chore that we never manage to master. But what if good financial management weren’t about managing spreadsheets and instead more about understanding what makes you tick?
We asked personal finance experts to share their tips on pain-free ways to organize our money based on the five money personalities. Here are their suggestions for getting your money under control, in a way that’s right for you.
01. I’m a saver. I wait for deals and never pay full price. How do I refrain from becoming a penny-pincher?
Warren Hogarth, CEO and co-founder of personal finance app Empower: Rather than budgeting, set a minimum spending target each month. For example, next month I will spend at least $100 going out to eat. At the end of the month, give what you don't spend to your favorite charity or cause, or use it to treat yourself or your loved ones to nonessentials. Empower provides detailed pie charts showing if you’ve hit your minimum spend target for a particular category like "Eating Out." Plus, it will automatically categorize your expenses, so you don’t need to worry about guiltily flagging your spending one by one.
02. I’m a spender. I enjoy treating others and myself. How do I avoid overspending while still enjoying life?
Meg Cerney, CPA and business strategist: As a former corporate CPA and now a small business owner, I work with clients on thought coaching, aligning money spending with values, and business strategy for bootstrap entrepreneurs. The best tool for organizing your money based on your money personality is to align your spending with your core values. When we practice adopting thoughts like, "I'm not going to buy that $8 latte because it's going toward starting my business or to charity," it helps us stay in line with what we truly want to experience or acquire in life (money is the primary way to obtain these, after all).
Dissect your historical relationship with money. If you've grown up thinking earning $1,000 is no different in level of effort as making $10,000 (i.e., you have an attitude of plenitude), you are more likely to be a spender. All of our past experiences with money affect our attitude towards it today, and ultimately how we typically spend. But dollar bills don't grow on trees. Work with a financial wellness consultant or life coach to uncover your values and financial goals for the year and hold you accountable to them.
03. I’m a risk taker. I’m excited by new opportunities and tend to make money decisions on my own. How do I keep my impulses in check?
Sisters Katie & Kelly McMenamin of Pixies Did It: Simple Organizing Strategies for Every Personality: We work with clients to make their lives easier whether organizing their time, possessions, or papers. Clients who are big picture risk takers are never going to have an easy time saving receipts or itemizing expenses for business or tax purposes. Well-meaning financial advice that risk takers should write what each expense is for on each bill or receipt and keep them in separate monthly folders will never work for them. One of our mottos at Pixies Did It is: Keep it simple. Store records for expenses in a Ziploc bag or desktop folder for any given year, and see a certified financial planner (this 25-year-old did, and it changed her life). Risk takers may not be their accountant or CFP's favorite client, but they’ll be held accountable for impulsive spending and responsibly figuring out financial decisions best suited for their spontaneous money personality.
04. I’m a security seeker. I research all my options until I find the best one. How do I combat my indecisiveness and anxiety about not having enough?
Brett Graff, The Home Economist, nationally syndicated financial expert: Two things you need to do: First, contemplate your desired outcome, and second, take a tiny, itsy bitsy step toward it. Want to save for a home down payment? Think about your dream home, and do an online search for realistic options. Then open a savings account for this goal alone. This doesn't mean you have to buy a house, but at least you'll have started somewhere. Change your mind from being stuck to being motivated by envisioning the end result and taking the simplest, easiest first step. The next steps will feel easier than the last.
05. I’m a flyer. I take care of all my present needs, but I don’t think about money much else. How do I get my finances in order so I don’t have to?
Hogarth: You'd rather not juggle different due dates, forms, websites, passwords, and PINs. So put your financial processes on autopilot as much as you can. The Empower app sends you notifications when you have a bill coming up, if a payment hasn’t gone through, or if you have extra cash that could be earning interest. You'll even be able to open a high-interest savings account or pay down debt in the palm of your hand. For big tax events, use affordable services such as TurboTax to file your returns. Start a retirement plan through a financial advisor such as Vanguard, in which you can automate payments.
Whatever your money personality, there are tools and services out there to suit your needs and help you reach your financial goals. It’s up to you to use them.
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