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What’s Your Money Mindset?

Understanding your motivators can help you better control your wealth journey.


Sensible about dollars and cents? More carefree than careful? Planner or play-it-by-ear? Your money personality affects more than just your portfolio, it likely affects your relationships, too – with your spouse, your siblings and your children. Money means different things to different people, and it’s vital to have a conversation about your spending, investing and saving habits so that you and your family will be on the same page.

According to financial psychologist Dr. Brad Klontz, “We have beliefs clunking around in our heads, and for many of us, they’ve been passed down from our parents.” But if we take the time to dig into our partners’ attitudes as well as our own, we may be able to better appreciate what drives financial decisions, recognize roadblocks and make meaningful progress toward our shared goals.

While there are a few broad stereotypes, only you, your family and your advisor will truly understand your motivations. You may not fit squarely into any of these boxes, but you may recognize a few of your own traits or those of your loved ones somewhere in the mix.

The rookie

You’re thrifty and idealistic – and you’re likely saddled with student debt as you try to launch a rewarding career. You’re optimistic and hope to align your personal and professional lives with the values you hold dear. You’re not likely to be a big spender, but when you do spend, it’s on memory-making experiences like vacations.

Bottom line: You’re just starting out and might fear an unpredictable market. While understanding your risk tolerance is essential to investing well, remember that you need some risk to grow wealth. Fortunately, you’ve got time on your side as well as the power of compounding. Use both to your advantage.


The forward thinker

You’re a little older with an established career. You’re buying houses, having children, aiming for that corner office. You’re busy and earning more than ever, but most of your money may already be spoken for, earmarked for retirement or a child’s education. You’ve got more money than time, and varying priorities com­pete for attention.

Bottom line: It’s a struggle to find time to dig into your invest­ments and manage everyday expenses as well as your emergency savings. You prefer to delegate some of those decisions to an advisor, offering input along the way.


The influencer

You work hard and play harder. You’re always hustling so you can enjoy the finer things in life. You drive a nice car, carry the latest phone and eat Instagram-worthy meals. For you, your self-worth is tied to your net worth. You believe there’s no such thing as too much money, and you splurge regularly.

Bottom line: For you, a budget may not seem exciting, but it’s a way of holding up a mirror to overspending and staving off debt. You may not enjoy sharing control over financial decisions with someone else, but a trusted source can serve as a guardrail to get you closer to your long-term goals.


The ostrich

An ostrich sticks its head in the proverbial sand and avoids thinking about money. You’re not quite sure how much you have, what you spend or what you owe. And you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to financial details.

Bottom line: Ignoring your finances could mean missing out on an employer’s 401(k) match or not understanding your household expenses should you ever need to take over. If you find money management complicated or cumbersome, rely on your advisor and automate other aspects, like bill paying or contributing to your 401(k).


The stockpiler

You watch every penny, prioritizing saving and frugality. The goal is to have more money than you need, which gives you a feeling of safety and con­trol. You may also feel uncomfortable talking about money, even with those closest to you. If you’re tired of worrying about money, you may want to assign more of the daily details to your advisor, who can shoulder some of the responsibility.

Bottom line: Saving is a wonderful habit, but if you sock most of your money away in cash and conservative investments, you may be too risk averse. Strike a balance to help you reach your short- and long-term financial goals and enjoy the journey.


The scout

The scout is well-prepared for the long haul. You see money as a tool and are willing to use it to achieve your goals. You understand that not everything will go your way, but you’re cautiously optimistic that a long-term plan will eventually get you where you want to go – no matter what is happening in the headlines.

Bottom line: You manage money with both your head and your heart, relying on expert advice when you need it. Be sure to build a trustworthy team of professionals, including an accountant and estate planning attorney, to ensure you maintain balance in all aspects of your financial life.

Planning for your financial future, like climbing a mountain, is a journey that each of us approaches a little differently depending on what we hope to achieve, our time horizon and our willingness to take on risk at that particular moment. The one thing we all have in common is the need for a guide to help us forge a path to prosperity.


Next steps

Level up your financial prowess by:

  • Being honest about your financial tendencies and identifying habits
  • Talking to your family about what your shared financial goals look like
  • Speaking to your advisor to determine how you can achieve your dreams

Sources:;;;;;;;; Raymond James research; University of Minnesota

All investments are subject to risk, including loss.

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