Author: Canadian Living

Money talks. It can also argue and shout. 75% of couples who divorce before the age of 30 cite money problems as the main cause. Don't become a statistic. Take the test below to help avoid money fights.

The Dimensions of Your Financial Personalities

Everyone's financial personality has three dimensions. Most people's financial personalities fall somewhere in the middle between the extremes of each dimension, but they probably lean more in one direction than the other.

1. Lifestyle: Spartan versus Monarch. This dimension reflects your ideas about lifestyle. If you picture yourself living in luxury and feel uncomfortable in humble surroundings, you're a Monarch. If you shun elegance and luxury and think that simplicity is a virtue, you're a Spartan.

This personality dimension is the valve that controls your spending. The lifestyle that you experienced growing up sets up your basic point of comparison, and strongly influences whether you are a Spartan or Monarch. Just like a prince or princess, if you grew up in lavish surroundings, you may feel you are entitled to this lifestyle, regardless of your actual financial capabilities. If you grew up in humble surroundings, you're better able to tolerate financial scarcity, but you may also feel that you don't deserve anything better than scarcity.

2. Risk Tolerance: Gambler versus Banker. This characteristic reflects your tolerance for risk. Does the thought of investing in the stock market make you feel slightly queasy? Does a steady paycheck sound better than working for commissions, even if that means earning less money in the long run? Then you're a Banker. Gamblers don't mind taking risks. Almost all self-made billionaires have Gambler personalities; but, then again, a lot of Gamblers end up filing for bankruptcy.

Whether you're a Gambler or a Banker can change depending on your circumstances. This dimension has a lot to do with your feelings about security. Your feelings of security or insecurity may be completely realistic, based on how things are actually going in your life, or they may be completely unrealistic, based on ghosts from your past.

If things are going well, for example, you're in a secure relationship, have an evolving career, and economic times are good, you have more room to gamble. When times are tough, you tend to pull in the reins. So you might basically be a Gambler, but one who can pull back and become a Banker when you're feeling less secure.

It has been found that men tend to take bigger financial risks than women (Powell and Ansic 1997). But it's also been found that men don't necessarily make financial decisions that end up being any better or worse than women make (Eisenberg 1997).

3. Financial Dependency: Pioneer versus Homesteader. Who's responsible for bringing home the bacon? If you feel that you're the "captain of your own ship," and you need to always pull your own financial weight, then you're a Pioneer. If you expect or will accept financial help and support from your partner or from other people, then you're a Homesteader.

This dimension is related to feelings about financial dependency. Traditionally, women have been the Homesteaders and men the Pioneers. Even though people are freer today than ever before to try out new roles, men are still more likely to feel responsible for their family's financial support, and women are still more likely to feel responsible for taking care of all the activities that take place in the home. There's still a lot of social pressure for both sexes to keep their traditional roles.

In a study by Riggs (1997) college students of both genders tended to view a woman as doing something positive when she risked financial security to stay home with her child, but they had negative feelings about men who did the same thing.

A secure, happy relationship can provide more leeway with these roles. For instance, a Pioneer might think that the Homesteader she or he lives with has an easier life and is taking advantage. Or a Homesteader might think that his/her Pioneer partner has all the control. But if, as a couple, you trust each other, you will be less worried about your partner taking advantage of you, and you are both freer to take on the roles and responsibilities that work best for each of you.

Take the Financial Personality Quiz.

Now, summarize your own and your partner's financial personalities by circling the appropriate labels below:

You

Spartan/Monarch
Gambler/Banker
Homesteader/Pioneer

Your Partner

Spartan/Monarch
Gambler/Banker
Homesteader/Pioneer

When you complete this exercise, you will have gained useful information about your own and your partner's financial personality styles. This information can be a powerful tool. If and when you have an argument about money, understanding your different financial personality styles will help you to find and name the source of your conflict. You can also learn how to turn things around, so that the personality differences that cause problems actually can become an asset on your road to financial prosperity.

Here's a quick example to illustrate the value of understanding these personality parameters:

Suppose you're a Homesteader, and your partner is a Pioneer. In the worst-case situation, you may feel as if you're stuck with the all the "dirty work": staying at home taking care of the children, and doing the same old boring chores every day, while your partner goes out into the exciting world of business and commerce. Not only do you resent your partner for enjoying the prestige and status of a career, but you also resent the financial control that comes with this. Your partner, on the other hand, may feel as if he or she is shouldering the entire financial burden and all the responsibility, and that you are a dependent "hanger-on."

Now let's look at the same styles from a different perspective. I will take it as a given that you are both bright, competent people who respect and love each other. Let's also suppose that you've just had you're first child.

For many reasons, having someone stay home with the baby is a priority for both of you. If you're in a secure relationship, it makes great sense for the Homesteader to be the one primarily responsible for taking care of the baby and for the Pioneer to bring home the money. Both are difficult, valuable roles. The Pioneer will feel good about the baby's safety and development; the Homesteader can concentrate on child rearing and worry less about financial security.

The tradition in most societies has been for the man to be the Pioneer and the woman the Homesteader. But when two people are particularly secure about their relationship and themselves, they can reverse these roles, or can move back and forth between roles at different times.

In the next few chapters, you'll see how to best work together with your partner, in light of your different personality styles. You'll learn what problems to expect, and how to view your roles in ways that will improve your relationship and increase your potential for financial success.

One more comment about your test results. These simple tests were designed scientifically, and they are good measures of the way you deal with money. (See Appendix A for information about how the tests were developed.) But no test is perfect. Your test results can change over time. Also, extreme scores mean more than scores that are near the cut-off points. For example, if you score 0 on the Gambler-Banker scale, then you are more clearly a Banker than if you score 3.


Clearly, these tests can't possibly capture everything about your personality, life situation, and relationship. After reading the descriptions of the financial personality types, you might feel that you or your partner is somewhat different than the tests say you are. That's fine. If you score as a Gambler but feel that you're basically a Banker, then feel free to try some of the Banker exercises in the chapters that follow.

Excerpted from The Couple's Guide to Love & Money by Jonathan Rich copyright 2003 by Jonathan Rich. Excerpted, with permission by New Harbinger Publications. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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