Financial Planner Helps You Discover Your Money Personality

The First Simple Truth About Money was about procrastination and financial fuzziness. The idea is that your non-actions around money can lead to bigger difficulties down the road. If you read the post, I hope that it caused you to make some behavioral changes. (Please write a comment and let me know if it did!)

Do You Know You Have a Money Personality?

Here’s a related question for you. Ever wonder why you procrastinate about financial matters? It may be due to your deep-seated money personality. We’ve all developed money habitudes and attitudes over the years – learned from our parents, our teachers and our peers.

Some of the information we absorbed about money may not be serving us so well now. For example, if you were raised in an atmosphere of scarcity, you may spend your whole life craving things you can’t afford and you now overspend to get them. On the other hand, if you grew up with abundance, you may expect things will always come easily to you. If your mom was a spendthrift, you may become one too or, you may overcompensate by becoming a miser.  If your dad procrastinated about important money decisions and took the attitude “things will work themselves out”, you may find yourself taking the same approach.

My Money Story

My mother and father were extremely frugal, especially my father. He didn’t want anything. Buying him a gift was torture because it was impossible to figure out what he would like – except peanuts, he loved peanuts.  So my siblings and I would end up buying him canisters of planter’s nuts for any occasion that required a gift.  His frugality rubbed off on my mom. Going out to eat with her is challenging. She’ll look at a menu and always order the cheapest thing on it – or a side salad.  Not a comfortable experience when you’ve just ordered filet mignon.

We kids would only get the “necessities” – food, clothing (thankfully we wore school uniforms!) and shelter. So, I learned early on that if I wanted the “extras”, I needed to find a way to buy them myself. This was probably a good thing, as I became self-sufficient at a very early age. But I also rejected the frugality of my parents and have been known to indulge myself on occasion. I’ve worked hard to find a good balance between being frugal and being extravagant.

Can you change your money personality?

Like anything with psychological or emotional roots, it’s possible but it takes work.  Deborah Price is the author of Money Magic, Unleashing Your True Potential For Prosperity and Fulfillment. She is the founder of the Money Coaching Institute based in Petaluma, California and she has developed a money coaching curriculum with the aim to “combine both practical financial guidance with sound psychological principles to help you transform your relationship with money and lead a more purposeful and prosperous life.”

I asked Elizabeth Husserl, a SF Bay Area based money coach, founder of, and a graduate of The Money Coaching Institute, her insights about money personalities.  She said, “If we don’t pay attention to our money personalities they will act out in louder and more extreme ways. For example, the shopping sprees become longer and more expensive because you can’t quite fill the emotional hole you are trying to fill or the anger towards money grows until you blame it for everything wrong in your life.”  Elizabeth offers Inner Economics workshops and private work for individuals, couples and small groups.

Aurora Medina, is also a S.F. Bay Area based money coach. She produces Efecto Mariposa, a Spanish radio show for women that specializes in the psychology of money. One of the ways she does this is through “Mariposa Money Circles” – small groups of six women who explore together the beliefs and patterns associated with money that are holding them back from maximizing their financial potential. When I asked Aurora for her insights she said, “our money personalities relate to the way money is handled mainly in our family environment. We make unconscious contracts about how we will handle money depending on the experiences we encounter that affected us deeply either in a negative or positive way.”

In my own financial planning practice, I find that the more I know about my client’s money type or personality, the better I can serve them. To that end I have each client fill out a money personality questionnaire, which seeks answers to such questions as:

  • What messages did your receive about money as a child growing up?
  • How did you parents handle money?
  • Did you feel like you got an adequate financial education growing up?

Most people are perfectly willing to do this exercise and seem to find the opportunity to explore the emotional and psychological aspects of money cathartic. If I interview a potential client who is in financial trouble and I sense a pattern in his/her life, I will often suggest they work with a money coach first as a precursor to the more technical financial planning work.

If you think that you may be acting in ways that sabotage your chance of financial success and it’s become a pattern  – read, sign up for a workshop, talk to trusted friends or advisors, or engage a money coach. There are resources available to help you.

I’ve listed a few books  just below in addition to the resources I mentioned above:


Your Money or Your Life:  Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
Money and the Meaning of Life, Jacob Needleman
The Soul of Money, Lynn Twist
Money, Money, Money: The Search for Wealth and the Pursuit of Happiness by Jacob Needleman
Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money In Your Life by George Kinder
You Paid How Much For That?: How to Win At Money Without Losing at Love by Natalie Jenkins, Scott Stanley and William C. Bailey

Other Resources:
National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies
United Family Services

10 Responses to Financial Planner Helps You Discover Your Money Personality

  1. Syble Solomon January 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    HI Cathy,
    Great article and absolutely correct! If you don’t know the connection between your emotional needs influencing your money actions it’s hard to take control and be successful. Have you heard of Money Habitudes? It’s a deck of cards that provides a novel way to discover your underlying habits and attitudes about money–exactly what you are talking about. The statement cards provide excellent topics for discussion and people frequently have amazing insights and conversations when they use the cards. I created the cards and you can learn more about them at ~ Syble

  2. Cathy Curtis January 19, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Hi Syble! Thanks for the comment. I do know about your cards. I bought the cards and the workbook at an FPA meeting. One of the advisors has incorporated it into this practice. I haven’t used them with clients (yet) but perhaps I should. Cathy

  3. partha iyengar January 20, 2010 at 4:46 am #

    Hi Cathy,

    You have a wonderful way of reaching out to your clients through your blogs.. I am really impressed by the way you put across issues involving money and financial planning in a very simple and effective manner. The piece on Money Personality was extremely interesting and insightful. I fully agree with you on the need to understand the money personality of the clients before embarking on the financial planning aspects for them. The book references related to the topic is wonderful and a great value add..
    Good Job!

  4. Cathy Curtis January 20, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    Hi Partha,
    Thank you so much for the positive feedback on my blog. I am flattered and happy that you feel that way. I am enjoying my blog so much. I have always loved writing, but never really had the chance to explore the possibilities before…. I am interested in your business too. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Best Regards, Cathy Curtis

  5. Lee Doyle February 5, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    Wonderful meeting you last night. Your Simple Money Truths are spot-on, especially #1.I do three things a day to keep clear about how I spend my money and my time. Keep blogging–the women and the world need your insights and advice.

  6. Cathy Curtis February 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Hi Lee,
    It was great meeting you last night as well. I am glad that I found out about Betsy’s salon. I will be in touch, I am thinking a lot about what we discussed last night.

  7. Cathy Curtis February 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Lee, forgot to thank you for your positive comments about my blog!
    Thank you!

  8. Refugio Buddemeyer September 9, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    Thanks for the Information, thanks for your great Post. I will come back later. Also great place for home owners: sell your house quickly

  9. Ellis Dilibero November 30, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    I realy like your angle that you have on the topic. Certainly wasn’t planning on this at the time I started browsing for tips. Your ideas were totally simple to understand. Happy to find out that there’s an individual here that obviously understands exactly what its is talking about.


  1. Financial Planner on Why You Weren’t Born To Shop (Simple Truth #3) | Of Independent Means - February 20, 2010

    […] anything psychological or emotional, it isn’t easy to change. Read simple truth #2:  “Your Money Personality Affects Your Money Behavior“  for more insights on this topic. But there are things you can do to take control of your […]

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