Updated: May 16
Are your financial beliefs holding you back?
My friend recently introduced me to Enneagrams. Enneagrams describe personality types; there are nine of them. I love personality tests and quizzes, even the ones that are probably made up by the magazine editorial team at their Friday afternoon meetings. That’s because I’m always searching for clues to figuring out how to solve what I feel are my personality flaws, and how to get past my challenges. I crave insight into myself so I can better understand why I do what I do, and how I can change the things I don’t like.
The Enneagram system is helpful for me. I’m a strong Type One, and reading about the qualities and characteristics of Type Ones was so validating. (“See? I can’t help it! I’m a Type One!”) More importantly, better understanding myself means I can learn to improve the things I want to change. What I also love about the Enneagrams is that it helps me understand the people around me. It gives me insight into what’s going on in their minds and why they do the things they do. It creates empathy and understanding.
There are also money personality types, like The Saver, The Indifferent, The Worrier, The Gambler and so on. Money personality types can offer insight into why you do what you do with your money, and what roadblocks might be preventing you from doing the things you think you should be doing, like spending less, saving more and investing your savings.
My whole life I’ve had a very strong and defined view of money. Money means security and safety. You should not squander it. You save it and plan for your future. This is a reflection of my upbringing and my personality. As a result, I’ve saved since my very first adult paycheque, I’ve been driven to work harder to ensure my security, and parting with money for reasons I see as frivolous or wasteful is literally painful.
Over the years I’ve had this big realization: “Hang on…not everyone feels this way about money?” Nope. Not most people.
When I decided I wanted to help people with their finances, I knew I would have to take a broader view of money. One of the descriptions I read about the Type One Enneagram is “…you are easily offended by what seems to you to be the perverse refusal of others to do the right thing – as you have defined it.” That’s not helpful in any part of my life – in my parenting, in my relationship, and definitely not in financial coaching.
Through observing people around me, I see a vast array of money personality types. I’ve read articles and a book on personality types to better understand other people, just like when I read about the other eight Enneagram types.
Being aware of your beliefs and feelings about money, as well as your money-related actions, is so important. Do you have an ingrained view of money that you might re-think? Can you take a different perspective and remove a mental roadblock?
My money beliefs are: “Don’t be frivolous - save so you can be secure.” For others it might be: “Why worry about my old age? It’ll work out.”, “The financial world is greedy and corrupt – I don’t want anything to do with it.”, or “I’m so clueless about money that I’ll never understand it.” Or a thousand other things.
If you feel worried, anxious or stressed about your finances, or if you just have a nagging thought that you could be handling your money better, sit down, close your eyes, take three big breaths, and ask yourself, “Do I hold any beliefs about money that are holding me back?” Like in any part of our lives, being aware of our mental roadblocks is step one in getting around them. By being aware that I fear financial insecurity, I have taken steps to get past it: putting numbers to paper (Excel, actually), figuring out how much I need for my retirement, and getting my money invested in a way that I feel good about. This has helped me loosen my grip on my credit card and feel better about spending money. You can find your tactics too.
Financial planning is not an “off-the-shelf” product. Everyone’s different in a hundred ways. You can find the approach that works for you – that makes you feel confident you’re doing the right thing and allows you to take the money worry off the list.