There are a number of money personality types and money psychology personality tests that exist. All speak to the psychology of money, recognizing that our spending and saving often has a habits, attitudes, emotions and values component, rather than simply a logical and rational one. Money is an emotional topic; even professional financial managers, financial planners and fund managers can be swayed by emotion when logic should rule. In fact, increasing attention between money psychology and emotion has spurred much work in behavioral economics and has resulted in financial therapy.
As with any personality test and assessment tool, the objective is self-awareness, personal understanding or a sense of emotional intelligence. That’s true for thoughts and behavior. A personality assessment lets us look at ourselves objectively. It helps us understand what we like and don’t like, what we’re good at and what our challenges are. A common psychological test, many people take the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Test. As the Myers & Briggs Foundations states:
The purpose of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality inventory is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful in people’s lives. The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.
Financial personality assessments are done for much the same reason. People use results from the Money Habitudes inventory activity in a great variety of ways. The money type activity may be done at home or with a professional like a marriage counselor, financial therapist, financial planner, coach or financial educator. It may be for financial planning, estate planning and investing (e.g., What is my investing type?). It may be for personal money management, budgeting and asset building. It may be for interpersonal development, relationships and communication skills. It may be for one’s career, job and workplace dynamics. It may be for entrepreneurship.
There are a number of similarities between money psychology personality scales, considering similar research and thought. Very simple money tests tend to divide the world only into “spenders and savers.” (Some of those might be available as a free online personality test.) While there may be some truth in this classic divide, it misses a level of depth and nuance that really seem to help people derive value from the exercise. After all, if you’re a “saver” are you always a saver? What about when it comes to your kids or buying gifts for the holidays or entertaining when the in-laws are in town? Some savers throw financial caution to the wind once they’re on vacation. Just looking at the Myers-Briggs test, it’s hard to think that only classifying people as introverts or extroverts tells a full picture (versus being an INTJ, INTJ or INFP).
Most money type quizzes use 4-10 personality type categories. We use 6 types in Money Habitudes:
(Note that the above money personality categories are for adults. There are slightly different versions of the cards for adults, young adults and teens. They are also available in Spanish.)
Although they don’t correlate perfectly to other personality tests, professionals who have used various financial personality measures are able to easily translate between different money personality assessments. Certainly, there are other money type assessments that are quite good and helpful.
One major difference is how people use Money Habitudes versus other money type assessments. Money Habitudes looks and feels like a card game. The card sorting process is hands-on and interactive. Like a game, it’s fun and gets people involved in a kinesthetic way, rather just reading a book or filling in forms. (Instead of fill-in-the bubble pages, the quiz questions are on playing cards. Often the questions cause people to laugh and smile, which is rare when people talk about money!) It also feels less like a stressful IQ intelligence test (or aptitude test) than other personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs.
As a game, it lends itself to working with groups and classes and is often used in workshops and seminars – in addition to coaching and counseling sessions with individuals or couples. Versus a paper test or online quiz, it may be harder to administer to very large groups, but we’ve still had people use the cards with groups larger than 100. Most classes that use the cards average 10-30 people.
To better understand the psychology of money, with Money Habitudes, people see themselves as a combination of different money personality types. People may have all six Habitude types, or may have five, four, etc. It’s not as simple as saying “I’m a spender,” or “I’m a saver.” Of course, each type has its own strengths and challenges. People come to see how the relative force each type – and its pros and cons – can manifest itself in their life, finances, relationship, business or career.
Money Habitudes also aspires to be nonjudgmental and non-threatening. This is crucial when it comes to talking about money. One of the reasons people dislike discussing money is that they often feel that they are being judged. They may perceive that someone is saying they are spending stupidly or being irresponsible. Money Habitudes endeavors to point out that everyone has habits and attitudes about money that are positive; very few of us have aspects that we couldn’t improve. They key with Money Habitudes is finding a psychology of money benchmark for where you are and why you behave the way you do. Then it lets you decide if that combination of traits is the right balance for you, your life and your goals. In many cases, students and clients have their own breakthrough AHA! moment after doing the activity. They then take the initiative to make changes themselves. That’s a very different from a counselor, teacher or advisor saying, “You’re doing it wrong. You have to change. Do what I say!”
Money Habitudes was designed to be understood by typical home users with no formal training in psychology or finance. However, it was also designed so that those with years of education and experience can get great value from the results. The personality test results are in the form of a simple card-sort layout that’s very colorful, visual and easy to understand at a glance. The money psychology personality profile doesn’t require a long print-out with complicated charts and graphs only understood by a PhD.
As such, the activity and the results can be employed as a quick exercise of 15 minutes or can be longer and the resultant analysis and discussion can last for hours. The Money Habitudes Professional Guide provides about 100 pages of additional information, suggestions, analysis and interpretation beyond the most basic (but effective) 8 yellow interpretation cards in each deck of Money Habitudes. Also, occasional all-day professional training seminars teach practitioners (such as marriage counselors, financial therapists, financial planners or social workers) how to use the cards and get value from the tool in more advanced and sophisticated ways. Although the cards may look unprepossessing, there are many layers to what one can do and learn with them.
Money Habitudes is not a free personality test. However, the materials can be reused over and over, greatly reducing the cost per participant or per use. Many organizations that use the cards do so every week or every month – and the materials often begin to find their way into multiple programs or offerings. An asset building organization may, for example, use the same deck of cards in a weekly budgeting class, one-on-one housing counseling, job readiness classes, entrepreneurship seminars or as the basis for a self-awareness training for VITA volunteers. It may not make the testing process free, but being able to reuse the materials quickly amortizes the cost of a deck of Money Habitudes cards to less than a dollar per participant.
Finally, Money Habitudes isn’t just a personality test. It’s also meant to be a conversation starter and “get to know you” activity. Whether it’s at home, with family or when working with clients or students, each of the statement cards can start an insightful conversation. It may be how one defines success, what family of origin influences one had, or what one wishes one had to be happier. In any case, the assessment part of Money Habitudes is part of a bigger experience where people often learn about their money personality but also learn to feel more comfortable talking about money.
For comparison, a few other money personality tests net the following types:
(Named for the imbalances in each, not for their strengths.)