Do you ever wonder why you struggle to save while your friend finds it a breeze? Your ‘money type’ could explain all.
But what if we told you that these aren’t the only ‘money types’ that exist? That, according to recent research, there are actually six distinct ‘money types’?
That’s the focus of new research from First Direct, YouGov and psychologist Dr Oliver Robinson, which identifies the six different types of people there are when it comes to money: the juggling one, the driven one, the living in the moment one, the level-headed one, the self-sufficient one and the balanced one.
These types highlight the reasons why, say, you might find it hard to save, or struggle to take financial risks, even when you know it could be beneficial in the long run.
But identifying your money type doesn’t only help you to understand yourself better – it could also help you to make smarter financial decisions and improve your wellbeing, too.
“Often we sit down and we think about our mental health and whether or not we’re happy, but our financial life is such a big part of all of that and we never really address how it makes us feel to spend money or not,” explains behaviour change expert and neuroscientist Dr Ash Ranpura.
“Our behaviours around money come from the brain. People tend to believe that they make financial decisions – either rationally or impulsively – and that their brain isn’t producing their behaviour. But it is – and the minute you understand that you can begin to develop a diagnostic approach and change those behaviours.”
In this way, while some of your behaviours surrounding money are out of your control, identifying your money type, and exploring the strengths and weaknesses in your behaviour, can give you the tools you need to boost your financial wellbeing going forward.
Intrigued? To find out more about the six different money types – and how each type can use their strengths and weaknesses to make smarter financial decisions, we asked Dr Ranpura to share his expertise. Here’s what he had to say.
The Juggling One
If you’re a fiend for impulse buying and shopping online, then you’re probably ‘the juggling one’. This type of person loves owning the latest stuff, and doesn’t hesitate to spend money if they see something you want. While they’d like to master financial planning one day – and probably have ‘look up saving hacks’ on their to-do list, it’s not exactly a top priority.
“The juggling one is someone who is constantly seeking reward – when they buy something, they get a rush of a chemical called dopamine,” Dr Ranpura explains. “While people often assume that dopamine is released when they get something they want or crave – it’s one of the chemicals associated with addiction – it’s actually released when something good is about to happen. So when the juggling one buys something new, it’s the moment before they get that item that they’d get that hit – and when it’s in their hands, that dopamine fades away.”
He continues: “Because of this, my advice for this type would be to keep a money diary, and every time you make a purchase, log how much pleasure it brings you immediately, then a week later, and then a month later. That should help you to see which of your purchases have a very short-term focus – and will help you to spend money on things you know bring you long-lasting joy instead.”
The Driven One
Has a friend ever told you you’ve “got your life sorted” when it comes to money? If they have, chances are you’re ‘the driven one’. The type of person who enjoys setting financial goals, sticking to savings plans and making smart investments; these people love to plan for the future. However, they may also feel like they’re missing out on other experiences because of how dedicated they are to their goals.
“This person is basically the exact opposite of the juggling one, because this person really inhibits their emotional and spontaneous responses to things,” Dr Ranpura explains.
“To counter this, and to give this type a method of spontaneous spending which also brings them joy, I recommend starting a slush fund. This slush fund doesn’t need to be a separate account or anything, it can just be a list, but it’s a place where you can record or store any money you weren’t expecting to get, like a train delay repayment or a cashback reward – something like that.”
He continues: “Normally these unexpected payments go unnoticed, but when you keep a list of these, they add up. And then what you can do is buy something extravagant or pointless with that money – something you’d usually see as a ‘waste’. The point here is to give yourself a way to spontaneously and joyfully spend money.”
The Living In The Moment One
You’re probably ‘the living in the moment one’ if you tend to put life and experiences before financial thought. In short, these people want to experience everything – they don’t have any long-term savings goals, and are happy to spend to avoid FOMO. Unlike the juggling one, these people tend to be conscious of how much they’re spending, but don’t really mind it – they just want to enjoy themselves and make the most of every opportunity.
“This is a person who is really aware of why they’re spending money extravagantly or frivolously, because they really value that,” Dr Ranpura explains. “Dopamine does a lot of different things in the brain, and alongside acting as a reward signal, it can also control our attention. So, whereas the juggling one keeps buying more stuff because it’s addictive and they get a rush of dopamine in anticipation of a reward, the living in the moment one craves novel experiences because it enables them to focus their attention and have this kind of satisfying feeling of being focused.”
He continues: “So, my advice for this type is to identify those new experiences which initially brought you pleasure, and see if you can really invest in one of those activities so that it becomes meaningful. In terms of your financial life, doing this will help you to recognise the advantage of your willingness to try something new, but then also teach you how to stick with something in the longer term.”
The Level-Headed One
If you prefer to stick to the well-trodden path, then you’re probably ‘the level-headed one’. In short, these people hate taking risks – they’re financially cautious and like to put a lot of thought into any financial decisions. They’re also the ones whose friends depend on them for advice.
“This is someone who is really good at following the rules from the outset, but isn’t always comfortable when the rules change – they can struggle with flexibility,” Dr Ranpura explains.
“This person is really great because they’re very sensible with money, but on the other hand, they’re probably losing the opportunity to make money by shying away from all risk.”
He continues: “So, the best way for this type to improve their financial wellbeing is to steadily increase their financial risk. Start by doing some things that you might have previously found a little risky with a little bit of money – it could be something simple like buying something you think is going to get more valuable, or investing in an online course that could help your career.
“Then, you can work up from that to something like investing or choosing a riskier investment option for your savings or retirement plan.”
The Self-Sufficient One
You’re ‘the self-sufficient one’ if you like to be realistic and practical when it comes to your finances. Unlike some of the other types on this list, this person is very resourceful and tends to look for the most convenient way of doing things – they relish being independent, and take the time to plan ahead so they can afford to spend quality time with those they love.
“The self-sufficient one is a very independent person – emotionally, they’re really driven by a need for agency,” Dr Ranpura explains. “This is usually a virtue, but it can also be a problem when things happen that are beyond their control (like the pandemic).”
He continues: “Because this is a money type that is doing all the right things, my advice would be to try giving to charity, or using some money to give back to people who are less fortunate than you. Charity is a way of taking an action in the world that causes an effect that you care about, and because self-sufficient people value that relationship between actions and consequences, you are going to feel joy when you give back to others.”
The Balanced One
If overspending or risking money is something that makes you feel uncomfortable, chances are you’re ‘the balanced one’. These people are very confident and pragmatic when it comes to their finances – they’re willing to spend on things that matter to them or seem sensible, but they’d rather miss out if it means spending on extravagant things.
“The balanced one’s money type emphasises reliability and steadiness, so their weakness is uncertainty,” Dr Ranpura explains.
“With this type, I’d recommend starting to develop a more comfortable relationship with uncertainty. So, what that means on a practical level is learning to trust your judgement and adapt when things don’t go to plan. To do this, risk a small amount of money that you can afford to lose, but do so with a backup plan in mind if it doesn’t go the way you think.”
He continues: “Making a financial decision with a backup plan allows you to take a riskier decision than you would otherwise because you have that backup plan. The goal here is to become comfortable acting in the dark – or at least with a bit of shadow.”