Archive for November, 2011

The Power of Your Financial Personality

We all know how important an engine is for a winning race car. A successful racing team understands what’s under the hood of their car and how to make it perform to the highest level. In the same way, it is important we understand our own ‘financial’ engine and how it performs. We call this engine our financial personality. Discovering our financial personality and understanding how it affects our decisions is critical to financial success.

Many organizations will tell you that you need to behave in a certain way if you are going to be successful financially. Attempting to change who you are is not only frustrating, but is not in line with God’s will for your life. Learning to work within your personality is the key to financial success.

Romans 12:4-8 tells us that we were each created with different gifts and talents that make us unique. You should not try to change who God made you, or attempt to change others. Rather, you should use the talents God gave you to become the person He designed.

In counseling singles and couples over the years, we have seen four universal traits that drive financial decisions and behaviors. The first two contrasting traits drive how we think about money. Most people are either spontaneous or analytical. Spontaneous people are more emotionally driven in their thought process. Analytical people like to think and ponder before making a decision.

The second two contrasting traits tell how we behave towards money. Cooperative people like to make sure all sides are heard before making a decision. Assertive people have no problem telling individuals what they want regardless of conflicting opinions. By combining these traits, we have found people generally fall into one of four financial personalities.

Read through the four personality types below and see which one you identify with the most. Remember, there is no right or wrong personality and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Statesmen are a combination of cooperative and analytical traits. They are generally tactful with people and tend to be comfortable with their finances. They like to set goals but may be too passive when it comes to executing those goals. They easily adapt to other points of view. Statesmen are conservative savers and investors. They plan for tomorrow but not at the sacrifice of today.

Cruise Directors are both spontaneous and cooperative. They generally have a charitable heart toward others and are givers. They also tend to be somewhat impulsive and get pleasure out of spending money. They generally have no desire to get wrapped up in financial planning and are not driven by specific financial goals. Cruise Directors think about today and don’t worry much about tomorrow.

Litigators are assertive and analytical. They are calculated risk-takers and disciplined savers. They tend to set goals and plan for their financial future. Given their assertive style, they tend to take charge of their money. Family members may see them as overbearing or rigid. Litigators plan for tomorrow, sometimes at the sacrifice of today.

Race Car Drivers combine assertiveness and spontaneity. This allows them to multi-task with the ability to make ends meet. They tend to have an entrepreneurial spirit but can be emotionally drained by the challenge of juggling their personal finances. Race car drivers are generally risk takers. While very financially active, race car drivers tend to struggle with consistent financial progress. They tend to think about tomorrow but may not be able to get past the issues of today.

When you understand your financial personality and that of your spouse, if married, communicating about finances is easier and more effective. Better communication leads to a more solid financial plan that works long term and you will begin to make financial decisions that work for you!

Setting the Record Straight About Marriage and Money

Growing up, you probably heard someone warn you that, “Money is the root of all evil”. Today, one of the most well known, well accepted statistics in this country is that “Money is the leading cause of divorce in America.” Well, neither of these statements is entirely true.

To borrow a line from comedian and red neck philosopher, “Larry the Cable Guy”, to blame money for all the evil and divorce in this country is like blaming a pencil for misspelling words on a piece of paper. Let’s look at the facts.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, “For the love of money is the root of many evils.” Notice, it’s the love of money, not money itself, cited as the root of the problem. As for the out of control divorce problem that is plaguing our families, don’t blame money. As we teach and council couples on financial principles, there is a very common obstacle standing between a family and financial freedom. The obstacle is financial compatibility.

Financial compatibility is the level at which couples can effectively communicate about money and money related issues as they arise in a household. Without this compatibility, discussions are nothing more that fights and solutions to problems result in a struggle for power and control over the checkbook.

When couples discover and understand their financial personalities, they can achieve higher level of financial compatibility. With this compatibility, couples can communicate effectively about money. Stress is reduced, fights are fewer, and marriages become stronger. This sounds simple but it’s not. If you and your spouse want to improve in this area, it takes both of you working together. But, if financial compatibility is the leading cause of divorce in this country, it’s worth the effort, right? Let’s examine how much effort we are putting towards this issue in our country.

  • A recent study concluded that American couples spend less than 12 minutes a month discussing their families’ finances.
  • Most Pastors admit to feeling inadequately trained in the area of finances and financial counseling. Consequently, couples who participate in premarital counseling receive little to no useful training in this area.
  • Schools fail to provide children training in basic money management. High schools and colleges have little to offer in the area of personal finance. However, college students are a favorite target of credit card companies. When a student graduates from college today, they leave with a diploma and an average credit card balance of $3,500.

Despite all that we know about the relationship between money issues and divorce, very few marriage seminars or marriage counselors spend any amount of time discussing financial compatibility or effective money management skills.

If your marriage is under financial attack, fight back. Money problems usually have little to do with money. The problems are usually rooted in a lack of communication between spouses and a need to brush up on money management skills.

  • Take a Christian based money management course. There is plenty of practical wisdom about money in God’s word.
  • Spend time talking with your spouse about your families’ financial situation. Don’t force one spouse to take on the entire weight of the household money management.
  • Set aside regular time to discuss spending needs for the upcoming month. If it helps, find a quiet place away from home like a coffee shop or café to have this discussion.
  • Share this information with your children. Don’t let them become a statistic. Most people claim they learned to handle money from watching their parents. Be a role model.

Money touches every area of our life. When couples begin discussing money issues, they will begin discussing other issues affecting their marriage. Improving your financial compatibility will improve the overall compatibility of your marriage.

If you would like to learn more about your financial personality, becoming more financially compatible, money management strategies and getting out of debt, contact us →