We are born with no financial knowledge and due to a lack of financial education in schools, most of us reach adulthood with little understanding of money. That included me, by the way, even though I went straight from school to work in a bank.
The lack of knowledge can be fixed with a bit of effort. There’s plenty of information available if you have the motivation to learn, and over time, financial skills can be developed.
What’s trickier to address is our attitude and habits. Studies show that our thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards money are pretty much formed by age 7. So whatever we hear and see from our parents, carers and teachers at a young age tend to form life-long beliefs and habits.
Compared to knowledge and skills, habits and attitudes are harder to measure and change, so I really like the Money Habitudes website. It offers a range of games and solutions to help uncover your money personality.
For $15, a quick, interactive on-line card game is all that’s needed to receive a comprehensive report on your money habitudes, together with some ideas on how you might make adjustments to how you think and behave around money.
Money Habitudes are a mixture of our habits and attitudes towards money and they are formed around six key themes, summarised as follows:
Money isn’t a priority – you just let life happen. With this habitude, others might see you as easy-going, flexible, immature, irresponsible.
Advantages can include optimism, adaptability, good at sharing with others. But you may have a tendency to lose track of money or possessions, you may lack some confidence or feel frustration that things don’t always work out.
Money helps you achieve goals. Others might see you as responsible, accomplished, driven, conservative.
On the plus side, you’re likely to make long term decisions based upon your values, you probably have money set aside for emergencies and you may have a sense of wellbeing.
Drawbacks can be impatience with others who do not meet your standards, frustration with the idea of helping others who do not plan and possibly, difficulty in responding to new situations.
Money helps you present a positive image. You could be seen as generous, impressive, superficial, insensitive.
Strong first impressions can be an advantage with this habitude and you may be attentive to what’s important to others. It’s likely that you will be generous with your gifts and you will enjoy returning favours.
Difficulties can include giving a false impression of wealth, unwise spending decisions and possible money secrets.
Money encourages you to enjoy the moment. You may come across as daring, fun-loving, open-minded, impulsive, unconcerned with consequences.
There are positives with this outlook on money, including the ability to respond quickly to opportunities, enjoy adventures and easily gain attention and recognition.
Drawbacks may include getting into debt for things you don’t need, feelings of being powerless with budgeting and potential guilt or shame about over-spending, debt or being over-generous to others.
Money helps you feel good by giving to others. Others are likely to see you as thoughtful, charitable, enabling.
Advantages are likely to includes strong values and convictions, ethics and integrity, the ability to anticipate the needs of others and enjoyment of life based on non-materialistic values.
But it’s not without potential difficulties, including disappointment if your gifts are not appreciated or reciprocated, intolerance of people with different lifestyles and a tendance to sacrifice your own needs for the future security of others.
Money helps you feel safe, secure and in control. You may be seen as thrifty, prepared, suspicious, cheap.
Big on budgets, goals and savings, you will benefit from delayed gratification and will have the peace of mind of having money available for emergencies. You’ll spend wisely now in order to have more choices in the future.
The downsides to this habitude can include the avoidance of risk, getting stuck in a secure job you don’t love, inability to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and maybe a tendency to save so much that you can’t fully enjoy life now.
None of these habitudes are better than the other, and they’re not necessarily good or bad. But having a good awareness of your money habits and attitudes can help you appreciate the different viewpoints of others and it may help you modify your behaviours to create a more balanced outlook on your finances.
Financial coaching can be an excellent way to raise self-awareness around your money beliefs and that could be the single, most important step in moving towards financial wellbeing.