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Daily Capital

What is Your Money Personality?

“Are you a spender or a saver?”

Experts believe that our money habits are cemented around age 7 and are largely dictated by lessons learned from our parents or guardians.

When I tried to answer the “spender vs. saver” question for myself, I struggled with such a black and white concept. I felt that it really was too limiting to describe myself as one or the other, and most of all, it wasn’t really helping me achieve my goals.

I came to the realization that it’s not really a question of if someone is a spender or a saver — we are all both. What sets us apart from each other is that we choose to spend or save based on different values.

Because our habits and values are instilled in us from such a young age, it’s likely your “money personality” has been calling the shots for a long time without you even realizing it — and it may be derailing more than you know.

Today, I’m breaking down five financial personality types to help you build a better roadmap to your goals and take control of your financial future.

The Financial Freshman

A Financial Freshman is a total money newbie — but don’t worry, no hazing here.

If you have an uncontrolled relationship with spending, little to no savings, mounting debt, or feel constantly stressed by your financial situation, you may be a Financial Freshman.

As a financial freshman, here are two things you can do immediately to get better control of your finances:

1. Start building an emergency fund

An emergency fund should be at least three to six months’ worth of expenses — and get bare bones with this. If you lost your job tomorrow, how much would you need to pay rent, utilities, insurance, transportation, and groceries? Calculate this number, and start putting whatever you can away in a high-yield savings account.

2. Create and stick to a budget

Find a way to start and follow a budget. What clients find most surprising after starting a budget is how much they are actually spending per month. I recommend using Personal Capital’s free money management tools to get a grip on your finances.

Accounting for every dollar you spend will help you determine where you could shave off spending in one area to put more in savings or pay off debt.

The Debt Defeater

As of January 2021, the average American has $90,460 in debt.

The numbers are shocking and only get worse when you begin to break them down by age, gender, and race.

I don’t bring up these numbers to cause you more anxiety, only to let you know that you are not alone if you’re in the stage of paying off debt.

Once you’ve saved your emergency fund (refer to the Financial Freshman), you’re ready to start tackling your debt.

Step 1: List all of your debts and their interest rates.

Step 2: Pay your debts down using either the debt avalanche (highest interest debts first) or the debt snowball (highest debt amount first) one at a time while paying minimums on all others.

Step 3: Make it fun and celebrate the wins. Debt payoff can be a tedious process, but the joy you’ll feel when you pay off your first account? Totally worth it.

Finally, if you are struggling with credit card debt, I highly encourage you to stop using a credit card. This is why I recommend building up the emergency fund first. You won’t be as tempted to whip out your card whenever the smallest inconvenience comes your way.

Read More: Dear Tori: What Debt Should I Pay Off First?

Career Climber

Are you a driven, career-minded person who’s fallen a little flat in the past few years from burnout or even boredom? You’re what I call the Career Climber money personality. You had a clear trajectory you hoped to achieve as a fresh-faced entry-level worker, and it may or may not be working out for you.

If you’re a Career Climber in a rut at your current job, here are a few quick things you can do to check-in:

1. Consider a transition

Do you REALLY love this job, or was it just the best offer you got at the time? Millennials and Gen Z are changing the game when it comes to workplace longevity. The old rules of staying with a company for 5 to 10 years are outdated. If you’re feeling uninspired, disconnected, or constantly trolling job boards, it might be time to start hitting the pavement.

2. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

Often, the job we started with can quickly transition into something else entirely. Whether you’re taking on new responsibilities, switching departments, getting a promotion, or managing more team members.

If you otherwise love your work and want to stay with the company, these are great times to re-evaluate your compensation plan and start negotiating to make sure you’re being well compensated for your time and talents.

3. Make sure your goals are still relevant

You may have started as an aspiring copywriter ready to take the advertising world by storm but found that you loved the client interaction more than the actual writing. Suddenly, you’re jealous of the account managers and sales reps and resenting the blank page in front of you.

We go to college (or right into the workforce) at 18, and we grow SO much in our 20s. It is natural to get into the workforce and find a new passion.

Your burnout may be less about your workplace than about your job title. Take some time to evaluate if your original path is still in line with your aspirations. It’s never too late to change it up!

Read More: How to Negotiate Your Salary and Career Advancement

Commander-in-Chief

Hi, I’m Tori, and I’m a reformed Career Climber turned Commander-In-Chief.

Simply put, the Commander-in-Chief personality is the entrepreneur, the anti-nine to fiver, the financial nomad.

When you’re a freelancer, small business owner, or any other non-traditional worker, you have a completely different set of worries when it comes to finances.

Income can be non-existent one month, and the next, you’re rocking multi-five figure sales. You’re also in charge of paying yourself, controlling your schedule, figuring out your health care, and making sure you’re playing nice with the IRS.

Your financial playbook is going to be different than anyone else’s on this list. So how do you make sure you’re not in over your head?

1. Build a bigger net

Set yourself up for less stress, and boost your emergency fund as much as possible while you’re building your business on the side. You may be matching or making more than your current salary, but the wild wild west of entrepreneurship doesn’t have the same safety net as your day job. It’s best to be a little overly prepared if you can.

2. Just start

When I first started Her First $100K, I agonized over branding and websites and every tiny little detail thinking I had to be perfect to start. When it comes to entrepreneurship, done is better than perfect, especially if your perfectionist tendencies are keeping you from hitting “publish.”

Stock Market Scholar

If you’ve paid off high-interest debt, have an emergency fund, and a steady stream of income, it’s time to start investing. And I’m not just talking about maxing out your employer-matched 401k (which you should be doing regardless of what debts you have because it’s FREE MONEY).

If you meet the above criteria and haven’t started an IRA or any other investment funds, you probably believe one (or both) of these two things:

  1. You have to be debt-free to start investing
  2. Only wealthy people are doing it

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard these absolute lies. And they are lies, make no mistake.

As a Stock Market Scholar, the first thing you need to do is to calculate your retirement needs and set a few long and short-term goals.


And the second thing you need to do is just get started. With investing, time is on your side thanks to the wonders of compound interest. Even if you can only find $50 a month to put in an IRA, your retired self will thank you for it.

Read More: How to Handle Stock Market Anxiety

Knowing your money personality can help you create a better strategy for your short and long-term financial goals. Use these personalities to help guide you through the different phases of your financial life, and set the money goals that matter to you.

Get Clarity on Your Money

Personal Capital compensates Tori Dunlap (“Author”) for providing the content contained in this blog post. Compensation not to exceed $500. Additionally, in a separate referral arrangement between Author and Personal Capital Corporation (“PCC”), Author is paid $70 and $150 for each person who uses Author’s webpage (www.HerFirst100k.com) to register with Personal Capital and links at least $100,000 in investable assets to Personal Capital’s Free Financial Dashboard. As a result of these arrangements, Author may financially benefit from referring potential clients to Personal Capital and/or be incentivized to present blog content that is favorable to PCC. No fees or other amounts will be charged to investors by Author or Personal Capital as a result of the Referral Arrangement. Investors that are referred to PCC and subsequently subscribe for investment advisory services provided by PCC’s affiliated adviser, Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”) will not pay increased management fees or other similar compensation to Author, PCC or PCAC as a result of this arrangement. Third party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Personal Capital Corporation (“PCC”) cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement or approval by Personal Capital of the contents on such third party websites.

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.

Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.

Tori Dunlap is a millennial money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. A Plutus award winner, her work has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, and more. An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.
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