Know Thy (Financial) Self

You may be an introvert or an extrovert. Maybe you’re highly organized or barely able to stay afloat of the clutter. Whatever your personality type, you also have a spending type. Identifying and knowing your spending type and financial habits is one of the first steps to taking control of your monetary resources. Ignore or deny your financial self, and you might as well be throwing money away.

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Traditionally speaking, financial personalities break down into two camps: the spenders and the savers. There are those for whom money burns a hole in the pocket and is spent nearly as quickly (or even before) it’s earned. Then, there are those for whom a penny saved is truly a penny earned and every cent is squirreled away in an effort to acquire more wealth and/or security. Obviously, the goal for most is to become better at saving. If this is the case for you, there is much good news and much you can do to help attain this goal. Spending and saving money are both habits, nothing more, and both can be learned behaviors. You may very well have a tendency towards the prior, but if your motivation and determination are strong enough the latter can soon become second nature.

Just as fad diets often don’t work and can lead to more weight gain, so, too, can going on a spending “diet” backfire financially. To achieve long term saving success, focus on making small, much more manageable changes that are more likely to stick. Forget giving up your favorite coffee drinks entirely, for example, and instead opt for putting yourself on a limit of one per week. If you enjoy reading magazines, skip buying them entirely, save the associated cost and instead commit to reading them while you’re in line at the grocery store or start checking them out at your local library. If you enjoy dining out, start ordering takeout instead and squirrel away the money you would have spent on tip and a beverage. An old German proverb says, “Who begins too much accomplishes little.” Same can be said of saving. Whoever tries to save too much at one time will likely save very little because they’re likely doomed to fail. Start small, make palatable changes and you’re much more likely to see lasting change when it comes to your saving habits, increasing the money in your bank account and lowering your financial stress over the long haul.

If you’re thinking you must resign yourself to a life of boredom sans any little luxuries in an effort to make the shift to “saver,” think again. Money is merely a tool, a tool that helps you live your life successfully by paying for all of the little necessities that pop-up as well as helps you to afford the things that help make life more enjoyable. That said, a life spent merely hoarding money is really no life at all. On top of that, working to simply acquire a bigger and bigger number in your bank account might very well leave you bitter and tired of work. After all, all work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) very dull. The key is to learn how to properly prioritize your funds, making sure there’s an adequate supply of money to go around for all the necessities as well as the luxuries. Spend some time figuring out your financial self, make small, easily attainable goals and work towards achieving them and a life of financial security (and balance) won’t be far behind.

Photo credit: Amy Messere

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