Here’s a real money personality type assessment using the Money Habitudes card sorting process:
That’s me (statements that describe my money personality type)
- Targeted Goals 9
- Selfless 4
- Security 2
- Status 1
- Free Spirit 0
- Spontaneous 0
That’s not me (statements that do not describe my money personality type)
- Free Spirit 8
- Spontaneous 7
- Security 6
- Status 5
- Selfless 2
- Targeted Goals 0
That’s sometimes me or That’s partially true
- Selfless 3
- Status 3
- Spontaneous 2
- Security 1
- Free Spirit 1
- Targeted Goals 0
Interpreting Money Habitudes money personality type assessment results: That’s me
- While it’s certainly important to understand how to interpret the Money Habitudes cards, bear two things in mind. First, the more times that one uses the cards in classes or counseling (which could be couples counseling, financial planning, financial literacy, career coaching, etc.), the more comfortable and familiar one will become with the patterns that emerge from different money personality type card sorts. (Also the Guide for Professionals has a lot more information on interpreting what the cards mean in terms of money personality type versus the basic eight yellow cards included in each Money Habitudes deck of cards.) Second, much of the strength of the cards is that they are a financial conversation starter. As an ice breaker, they allow people to explain how and why they think the cards are a fit and describe them, their life and financial patterns. Simply asking a student or client to explain how the cards fit with his or her life can be very helpful; as you’re listening to them, it actually keeps them more involved than you just talking at them.
- A first thing to notice is that the card sort came out with 16 “That’s me” cards. That’s about what we’d like to work with; usually we look for about 10-15 cards in that pile. If there are very few cards in that pile, we ask people to move the strongest “Sometimes” cards over to “That’s me.” If there are lots of cards – 20 or 30 or more – we’d often have people take out the weakest cards in their “That’s me” pile and move them to “Sometimes.”
- While it’s not exceptional for someone to say “Yes, that’s me” to all 9 cards in a category, it doesn’t happen all the time. Such a result indicates that this category is very, very strong in one’s money personality type. That’s the case here with Targeted Goals (or “Planning” in the Young Adult and Teen versions).
- We’d typically say that having 4 or more cards in one of the Habitudes categories signifies a very important or “dominant” Habitude money type. In this case, Targeted Goals is very, very dominant and Selfless (or “Giving” in the other versions) is a strong second-place money personality type.
- Looking at this person, the advantages and challenges (on the yellow interpretation card) for Targeted Goals will probably resonate quite strongly. If someone had 4 or 5 cards in that category, the highs and lows probably wouldn’t be as high or low. Just as someone may have a great strength in planning and setting goals, that person may also have a hard time adapting to a changed situation, listening to others, making a quick decision without doing a lot of research, etc.
- It’s good to think of how one Money Habitudes category moderates another. In this case, think about the difference between someone who has 9 Targeted Goals cards and 4 Selfless cards versus someone who has the opposite: 9 Selfless cards and 4 Targeted Goals cards. While this is all dependent on the person and subjective – as we all see money in different ways – we might summarize the difference as follows: The first person will generally plan what to do with his money and will often prioritize using his money to help others in some significant way; that might be giving to a charity, helping one’s family, etc. On the other hand, we could say that the second person might be very giving, but would do that giving in a planned, premeditated way. To carry it further, think about a third person who has 9 Selfless cards and no Targeted Goals cards. If someone walked up to the first person on the street and asked for money, he might say “No” and add, “I make a budget every year and I devote all of my charity to the XYZ Soup Kitchen.” The second person might give the person some money, but will stay within what he knows is a planned boundary, e.g., “I know I can afford to give this person $5.” The third person may very well empty his pockets to the other person, thinking little of his own financial welfare.
- Bear in mind that while there are many healthy, positive financial personality traits associated with Targeted Goals, the planning predilection doesn’t necessarily say they are the right goals – or what you as a facilitator, therapist or teacher believe are the right goals. For example, someone may decide at the age of 18 that he is going to own a Ferrari at 25. Is that a good goal? Of course, it depends and you’re best to listen to this person and understand his thought process. However, we can probably agree that if one cashes in a college trust fund, forgoes two out of three daily meals for years and lives cheaply in a very unsafe neighborhood, and never takes a vacation from a job where one is working overtime all to afford a 6-figure car, it’s probably not a good financial balance. The question for someone with such Targeted Goals strength is whether one’s goals are the right goals.
- Although one frequently sees Targeted Goals and Security cards working in tandem, they’re not the same money personality tendencies. Having a lot of Targeted Goals cards doesn’t necessarily mean you’re saving. Having a lot of Security cards means you probably save a lot (or at least don’t spend a lot), but it may be more reflexive versus planned. For example, if you see that your car needs new tires, someone with a lot of Security cards might not replace those tires until one blows out and must be fixed; that’s not-spending to the exclusion of planning. In this case, the 9 Targeted Goals cards certainly predominate over the 2 Security cards. Is this good? Is it bad? It depends. This person may look at the advantages and disadvantages on the yellow interpretation cards and think it is the right balance in his life. If not, then one would look on the back of the yellow cards for some suggested next steps to readjust one’s balance.
- What does having 1 Status card mean? Well, generally we want people to pay close attention to the extremes: categories where they have a lot of cards (8 or 9) or very few (0 or 1). That might mean that someone is over- or underusing strengths in that category. Let’s take the example of buying clothes. Someone with all 9 Status cards might very well spend lots and lots of money on looking good and presenting a positive impression – to the point where one can’t actually afford to spend that money. Here, there’s often an element of acceptance-seeking, of wanting to fit in or be seen by others as successful, etc. On the other hand, someone with no Status cards, may care very little for how he dresses. He might be wearing the same clothes he’s had for 20 years, thinking honestly to himself, “Why do I need new clothes? I don’t need to impress anyone!” But let’s then say that the person with 0 Status cards goes on a job interview wearing a suit from 20 years ago. He may not care what he looks like and may believe that others shouldn’t care what he looks like (not judging a book by its cover, so to speak). However, the person conducting the interview might say, “Wow, this guy looks like he walked out of a time portal. If he’s dressed like that, I doubt he’s current with what’s going on in the field. And I couldn’t imagine going to meet a client with this guy because he looks so out-of-date and shabby.” And then that person doesn’t get the job. So what may come from a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of the Status cards is whether this person has been negatively affected by not presenting a positive impression? If someone says, “Wow, I keep going to job interviews and not getting the job and that might be why!” then that’s a very valuable financial epiphany. In this case, springing for a new suit might be a great investment – even if this person believes hiring managers should care what’s in his brain and not on his shoulders.
- Along with the point above about Targeted Goals vs. Security, let’s consider the two empty money personality types: Free Spirit (“Carefree” in the other Money Habitudes versions) and Spontaneous. Beyond not having any of these cards in the “That’s me” pile, this person has said that they really don’t describe him; almost all of them are in the “Not me” pile: 8 Free Spirit and 7 Spontaneous. Again, when looking at the yellow cards for these two Habitudes, one would be missing the advantages of them (such as making a quick decision on financial matters, etc.) but also wouldn’t have the disadvantages (the possibility of going into debt over impulsive spending, etc.). This might be the right balance for this person at this time in his life. However, generally the question we ask when someone has an empty category is, “Would your life be better off if you had some of the positive traits of the missing category?” In this case, a concern might be that this person could be too serious with money and isn’t enjoying life or taking advantage of financial opportunities that present themselves. For example, this might be going on vacation – or changing plans to go on an awesome once-in-a-lifetime excursion when on vacation, even if that side trip wasn’t on the original planned itinerary. Often financial experts put budgeting in the context of deprivation by saying, in essence, “Make a budget so you know what not to spend on.” However, for someone with so many Targeted Goals and a lack of Free Spirit and Spontaneous cards, he might want to “budget for fun.” That might mean saying, “Every month, I have $100 to spend to enjoy myself; it might be a nice dinner or going to the theater or going camping.
Interpreting Money Habitudes money personality type assessment results: Sometimes me
- Looking at the “Sometimes me” pile, we’d ask questions like, “Why is that sometimes true?” “When is that true?” “Who are you with when that’s true?” This pile gets to situational and contextual tendencies.
- In this example, there are 3 Status cards that our client has said are “sometimes” true. By re-reading the Status statements in that pile, he may see one that says, for example, “I always want to pay the whole check when I eat out with other people.” Asking the “who, what, where, why, when” questions, it may be that he’s likely to feel like paying for everyone in only certain cases. It may be when he’s with his wife’s family. It may be that he came from humble beginnings whereas his in-laws are very wealthy and he wants to prove to them that he belongs, is successful, is like them, and can provide for his family. Or it may be as simple as, “Right after payday, I feel much freer to share my money with those who happen to be around me – even if it’s a bunch of strangers at a bar that I buy drinks for.” In either case, it helps people see and talk about money issues and recognize larger saving and spending habits in their lives.
- In many cases, someone keys in on the situation and is able to make a quick positive behavior change. It may be a card that talks about spending freely when shopping and the person may realize, “Wow, whenever I go out shopping with Mary, I buy things I don’t need and can’t afford, but she’s so fun and we have such a good time at the mall. That doesn’t happen when I’m by myself or out with my other friends.” Here, one might be able to change behavior by simply putting a cap on how much one spends when shopping with Mary or realizing that it would be just as much fun to spend time with Mary even if that means walking around the park or getting coffee.
Interpreting Money Habitudes money personality type assessment results: That’s not me
- Finally, as mentioned above, with the “Not me” pile, the question we’d generally ask is, “If you look at the advantages of the cards there that don’t describe your financial tendencies, would you like to have more of those in your life?” What’s important about the Money Habitudes tool is that while it is a money personality type assessment, it’s also very much a financial conversation starter. This methodology and format gives a facilitator, teacher, therapist, financial planner, etc., an opening to understand what’s going on in someone’s life. They can then offer advice or suggestions that are not just sound financial practice, but also mesh with the real person in front of them.
- We hear about people, for example, who’ve just been laid off and now find it harder to spend money spontaneously because they’re so bent on conserving their funds. They may, therefore, have a lot of Spontaneous cards in the “Not me” pile. To think more about spending habits and to dial back on spending is a natural reaction to losing a job. To add some financial spontaneity to their life, should you encourage them to go out on a spending spree? Probably not. But there may be a side-effect of losing a job where one also really dials back on the socializing that one used to do. Or one might be a lot less prone to spend money when a good opportunity comes up. When it comes to getting a new job, that might very well require that one sees a networking event that costs $50 and will cost $200 to travel to and prepare for – but it may very well be worth it and it might make sense for that person to make that decision on the spot to spend that money. Or it might mean taking a new job in anew city or enrolling in a training class – which might draw on some of the real strengths of the Spontaneous personality.
They key is to start the money conversation with the Money Habitudes cards and then let it lead where it may. Talk about money and then transition to: making a budget, creating a spending plan, meeting with a financial planner, arranging to see a therapist, taking a vacation, signing up to volunteer somewhere, looking at other career options, or the like. In the end, the assessment component is important, but the conversations it starts are often more valuable.