How discovering your money personality can help you save

December 18, 2023

Your beliefs about spending and saving money can boost or block your financial success. Here’s how to make your money mindset an asset.

We all have a money personality — beliefs that can influence how we save, spend, and think about money.

Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, a financial therapist and owner of Mind Money Balance therapy and coaching in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has identified four financial archetypes that many clients fall under. In doing so, she builds on the research of Brad Klontz and Olivia Mellan — two leaders in the field of the psychology of money.

Wondering which of these archetypes applies to you? Here’s what each looks like — and how to save smartly no matter your money personality.

Personality No. 1: Blissfully Ignorant

These people feel “awkward, uncomfortable, and anxious about engaging with their money,” Bryan-Podvin says. As a result, they may not know how much is coming in and going out. Harboring a subconscious belief that caring about money makes them a greedy person, they push money away. People who fall into this archetype may work in fields where the dominant theme is helping others, such as teaching, nursing, or creative endeavors.

If “blissfully ignorant” sounds like you:

•  Automate a monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings account, saving a certain percentage of your after-tax income each month. Set a monthly savings goal that feels attainable to you. That target can include extra debt repayment above your credit card minimum and student loan payments, Bryan-Podvin advises.

•  Schedule a monthly appointment with yourself to go over bank accounts, student loan statements, credit card statements, and other financial paperwork. If your partner handles the financial nuts and bolts, make sure you check in regularly, so you still know what’s going on.

•  When you sign up for your 401(k) retirement plan, build in automatic annual increases until you are maxing out your benefit.

Be proactive about asking for a raise or finding a job that pays you what you’re worth, even if you’re in a “virtuous” profession.

Personality No. 2: Money Admirer

These people associate their income or net worth with their self-worth. Often entrepreneurial, they may have ever-increasing income goals and multiple side hustles. Consciously or not, they believe that if they have X amount of money they’ll be happier, calmer, or worthier — and then they continually raise the target.

If “money admirer” sounds like you:

•  Think about how you define “enough” in concrete terms of your needs and wants. Realistically, how much savings will you need to attain your goals?

•  When you set savings goals, think of why you’re saving rather than just aiming for a specific amount. “Maybe what you really want is a week off with your family, totally unplugged, so find out how much that will cost and set up an account or a savings plan for that specific goal,” says Bryan-Podvin.

•  Remember that not every part of your life has to be a hustle. If you like houseplants, for example, you can make tending to them a hobby without trying to monetize it in some way. Pay attention to the other aspects of your life beyond finances, such as physical and mental health, relationships, and community.

Personality No. 3: Free Spirit

Free spirits like money because of what it can buy — nice things for themselves and others. They’re the friends who send you gifts simply because they’re thinking of you. They tend to use money to highlight their optimism. But, says Bryan-Podvin, “they may struggle to honor their self-worth without attaching it to things.” Free spirits may also be in debt and may be secretive about their finances.

If “free spirit” sounds like you:

•  Come up with a firm savings plan before you buy a single thing. One simple rule of thumb is to allocate 80% of your income to needs and wants and 20% to savings.

•  Include a certain amount in your needs and wants budget that you can spend on impulse purchases so you can do so without feeling guilty afterward.

•  Wait a couple of days before buying items you’re interested in to see if you really need them. You can get a rush from adding things to your online shopping cart even if you don’t purchase them.

•  Remember that you don’t always have to express your love for friends and family with material objects. If you see something they like in a shop, you can take a photo of it and text it, saying it reminded you of them, rather than buying it.

Personality No. 4: Doomsday Prepper

On paper, these people are doing the right things. They tend to have more money saved and less debt, and they’re comfortable talking about money with their partners. But they may struggle with what it means to have and spend money and end up keeping their savings under the mattress (literally!). At some point, holding very tight to their money may have kept them or a close family member safe, but they may continue to do that long after circumstances have changed.

If “doomsday prepper” sounds like you:

•  Keep only as much cash at home as you are comfortable losing (to fire, burglary, or just plain forgetting where you stashed it). Figure out what amount of cash you might immediately need in an emergency and put the rest of your savings in an insured account.

•  Think about how much of a safety net feels safe. It’s fine to be more conservative — perhaps you want to save a year’s worth of expenses rather than the usual three to six months.

•  Seek out investments with more growth potential once your savings are fully funded. You can go slowly and build over time.

•  Practice using money in a positive way. Maybe that means treating a friend to dinner, buying a small luxury for yourself, or donating to your favorite charity.

We all have money personalities that affect our spending and savings habits, though after looking over this list you may find that you are a little bit of one archetype and a bit of another. By recognizing what personality traits apply to you and what emotions may be driving how you manage your finances, you can implement savings strategies that are most likely to be effective for you.

No matter your savings personality, U.S. Bank has a number of savings options to help you manage and grow your money.

Related content

How to increase your savings

Checking and savings smarts: Make your accounts work harder for you

How having savings gives you peace of mind


Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, Home Equity and Credit products are offered through U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered through U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.