6 Things NF Types Must Do to Take Control of Their Finances

When you think about the qualities needed for successful money management, you probably associate those traits with the Sensing-Thinking personalities. It’s easy to see how those personalities—i.e., ISTJ, ISTP, ESTJ, and ESTP, with their facility for facts, data, and logic—can easily master finances.

It’s a little less clear how Intuitive-Feeling types can succeed financially, however. The four Intuitive-Feeling types—INFP, INFJ, ENFJ, and ENFP—are unique unto themselves; however, they also possess similarities in their personality descriptions. Intuitive-Feeling types are like variations on an orchestral theme, or four different tapestries woven with similar threads—distinctive yet related. Intuitive-Feeling types are sensitive, creative, imaginative, and guided by a deep sense of personal values and integrity. They are the most likely personality types to be stay-at-home parents, writers, teachers, counselors, and artists. They are likely to express dissatisfaction with their work, and earn a lower than average salary when compared to other types.

This description doesn’t seem to bode well for the financial health of Intuitive-Feeling types, but take heart! Financial success isn’t just about amassing wealth. In fact, the numbers reflected in our bank accounts don’t necessarily make us happier or more fulfilled. In his book, What Will I Do With My Money? How Your Personality Affects Your Financial Behavior, author Ray Linder (2000) examines a new perspective on financial success. This is a perspective that takes into account a deep personal understanding of money that goes beyond momentary happiness, and strives instead for the kind of contentment that comes when you know you are managing your assets in a way that is consistent with your personal beliefs, values, and interests. Does this sound more like something an Intuitive-Feeling type could get behind? Here are some tips and guidelines for taking the first steps to financial solvency with the full force of your Intuitive-Feeling strengths to guide you.

1. Three Journaling Activities—Use your self-reflective skills to evaluate what you take pride in when it comes to your personal money management. Perhaps you are never late on a loan payment, you contribute regularly to charitable organizations, or you have never been in overdraft in your checking account. Whatever the case may be, write it down and own that sense of accomplishment. These are strengths to build on. The second part of this exercise involves accepting your financial challenges. Maybe you have credit card debt, student loan debt, or you often make payments late. Let go of your embarrassment and reframe these challenges as potential for growth. This desire for personal growth and evolution is a strong suit for your personality type. Use it to your advantage.

Next up, examine your family history with money. What did your family teach you about money? How did your parents manage their finances? What childhood memories do you have involving money?

Finally, how has your family of origin influenced your present interactions with money? Use your ability to see the big picture and read between the unspoken lines of your childhood dialogue to intuit your family dynamics with money. Finally, create a synthesis of your finances that includes where you are today, where you’ve been, and where you want to be. What strengths do you want to build on? What challenges do you want to resolve? What are the old messages that you received from your family regarding finances that no longer serve you in the present day? What positive family messages regarding money do you want to hang onto? Use your strength of envisioning the future, and imagining potential, to visualize where you want to be financially.

2. Link your goals to your personal value system. This is an important step. Amassing wealth is not a sufficient goal for Intuitive-Feeling folks. Your sense of integrity and your personal value system provide the compass that makes life have meaning. Link your desire to take control of your finances with your deeply held values. To an Intuitive-Feeling type, frugality in and of itself may feel like senseless deprivation; however, when the focus on savings is linked to a more deeply held value, it is transformed into something that is profoundly satisfying. An example of this might be saving money on expensive, luxury personal care items versus striving for a zero-waste, environmentally sensitive, personal care routine. The former is merely frugality, while the latter is a conscious effort to make your spending support those causes that you hold dearly. Evaluate your day-to-day spending habits. Ask yourself, 'does this expense sustain or contradict my value system?' It’s a great feeling to know that your resources are being applied in a deliberate way.

3. Get your spouse, partner, significant other, or family involved. Let your inner circle of family and friends know that you are going to be tackling your finances. If you are in a relationship, you will need to talk to your partner and let him or her know what you’re struggling with, what your goals are, and how your partner can help you succeed. Get ready, this may be an emotionally charged conversation. This may mean clearly defining financial responsibilities, divvying up the debt or bills, and assigning responsibility for specific debts. Let your friends know that you are going to be evaluating the way that you spend your money. Help them to understand that rejecting a social outing is not the same as rejecting them. Use your creativity to come up with low-cost and cost-free social alternatives. Consider meeting on a trail for a walk, volunteering together at a local homeless shelter, attending festivals, or picnicking, as alternatives to costly social gatherings.

4. Make sure you’re working in the right field. In order to earn a decent wage, many Intuitive-Feeling types have opted for less than optimal work conditions. Find a career path that is a good fit for you and you will experience less stress, a sense of fulfillment, and increased productivity. It could be argued that money follows passion, and that finding your calling will ultimately be financially rewarding. The opposite concern is valid as well. What happens when your Intuitive-Feeling vocation pays less than your previous job? Finding a job that utilizes your natural gifts will provide additional motivation to spend consciously. Imagine if you felt a sense of pride, accomplishment, energy, and respect in your career. Wouldn’t that be worth a few less lattés?

5. Take advantage of your resources. The Judger subcategory (ENFJ and INFJ), with their preference for organization, may already be taking advantage of online budgeting tools, but this might be a new concept for Perceivers (ENFP and INFP). In fact, the very idea of a budget may make Perceivers cringe. The sense of being locked-in with no variance or room for spontaneity is a hard pill for Perceiving types to swallow. The good news is that online budgeting tools, phone apps, and online banking have taken a lot of the discomfort out of budgeting. Free online tools such as Mint can link your bank account to a budget, sort your expenses and give you an idea of where your money is going. In addition, most banks have online banking and phone apps that allow you to schedule payments so you are never late with a bill. This also comes in handy for Perceiver-types who need some spontaneity. Less than half an hour devoted to organizing your online banking and you can arrange all of your bill payments, savings, and discretionary spending. Imagine putting your money through a sorter that determines your needs and wants. The sorter disburses the needs first. What’s leftover is an amount that you can spend in your own free and impulsive style knowing that when it’s gone, well, it’s gone. Judgers who might already be using these resources might want to build in an emergency fund savings for the unexpected.

6. Modify your style. Ouch! Saved the hardest for last. Mr. Linder outlines three steps for modifying your money style:

  1. Taking responsibility. Sorry Perceivers, your need for spontaneity doesn’t let you off the hook when it comes to budgets. Likewise, Judgers, your need for order and organization doesn’t preclude some unforeseen opportunity. Mr. Linder reminds us that “your money personality does not determine your behavior…you have the freedom to make decisions and use appropriate action in every situation” (p. 182, 2000). Hopefully, the steps outlined above will make taking the appropriate actions a little less painful.
  2. Changing your money attitude. True financial success happens when you interact with money in a way that is organic to your personality, but it doesn’t stop there. In order to obtain true financial success, you have to learn to be content with less. This is possible if you consciously identify what matters most to you, spend your money in a way that is consistent with your values, identify and distinguish between your wants/needs/desires, and realize that money, once spent, is gone forever.
  3. Use your dominant function to make good money decisions tempered with your less preferred functions. You’ll have to approach this consciously. Use your intuition to gather information. Use your Feeling nature to consider the impact of your financial decision. Then, purposefully and deliberately consider what a Sensing-Thinking person would do. Gather some data, collect some facts, exercise your left-brain, and apply logic. Your ultimate decision will be guided by your natural strengths, but now it’s been tempered and balanced by your less preferred functions. This isn’t easy to do. You might try reaching out to Sensing-Thinking family and friends who can help talk you through this step. After all, you’ve already talked to them and they know what you’re trying to accomplish (tip #3).

Taking control of your finances and establishing true wealth and contentment is much more than growing numbers in your checking account. Money is a means to an end and the “end” is only really meaningful when you have identified those things, pursuits, and values that are truly meaningful to you. Otherwise, you are just spending unintentionally with some hope that what you buy fills a void. As an Intuitive-Feeling type, you can use your strengths of character—i.e., creativity, principles, intuition, and self-reflection—tempered with your less preferred Sensing-Thinking skills to achieve a more holistic sense of wealth and financial success.

Teresa Stackhouse

True to her INFP personality Teresa has had the good fortune to enjoy several career paths including: clinical social worker, massage therapist, yoga instructor, nurse, lactation consultant, and writer. She was first introduced to personality typing in the early 80's, and has spent the ensuing decades in a quest for INFP self-acceptance. When not writing or caring for newborns in the nursery, Teresa enjoys reading, cooking, and a daily walk.


Guest (not verified) says...

This article has popped into my in-box at a perfect time, both for managing my own money and for acting as power of attorney for my mother.
Your words are reassuring but also appropriately challenging. It's gratifying to note that I have, in fact, already been following some of the sound advice that the article contains - the reaching out to Sensing-Thinking people for example.
The key action for me is to drop the self-critical voice telling me that I'm stupid for not finding money and numbers easy.
My favourite phrase was 'In fact, the very idea of a budget may make Perceivers cringe,' and I have sent the article to my financial adviser so that he can better understand where his ENFP client is coming from!

Teresa Stackhouse says...

I'm so glad that you have found this helpful. Personally, I've spent decades living with that self-critical voice that tells me I'm less than everyone else because money management is so hard for me. I've really only been able to take control of my money by letting go of the shame and building on the strengths that my personality provides. NF types are all about personal growth and creativity. When I apply these skills to my finances and focus less on my number insecurity, I start to make progress. I hope the same is true for you as well.

Paulus (not verified) says...

Wonderful article thank you! As an INFP (male) so much of what you wrote resonated with me - I have budgets or being nailed down or looking at finances. Whenever we tap into savings I go into turmoil however, and I hate that.

I took your suggestions and inventoried the principles that are important to my heart.

Would like to give
Would like to travel
Would like to leave something for our son.

As I search myself, not sure what else there is. I really don't value cash and keep it crumped up in my pocket without organization. I doesn't mean anything to me except to make things happen.

On the other hand, the prospect of failure sends me into huge waves of anxiety. As I examined this, I realized I have been living other people's tapes. Not to bare my soul, but my father grew up during the depression, and lived in a tent for God's sake. So he was an extreme penny pincher and always transmitted fear over sliding off into poverty.

I realize this morning that he would call me selfish, as he was an extreme hoarder - so he was attributing to me the afflictions that he had. I don't blame him for this, he did the best he could, but understanding this hopefully will help me move forward.

Thank you again, your article helped me to do this.

Teresa Stackhouse says...

You bring up an excellent point. Personality type gives some insight into strengths and challenges with money management, but so does family of origin--hard to say really which is more influential. This is precisely why I included the self-reflective journaling activity.

What a fantastic first step you've made by realizing those "old tapes" no longer serve you. Moving forward, you can redefine your relationship with money based on those things that are important to you--and I have to say, the things that you have selected as being important are really pretty cool. I wish you well. I truly hope that reorganizing your finances allows you to experience the satisfaction of helping someone else and the thrill of a new adventure.

Meg North (not verified) says...

Hi, I just wanted to share, as an INFP, the most helpful financial coach and book I've ever found about money. It's "Wild Money," by Luna Jaffe - http://lunajaffe.com/wild-money/. I used to believe and feel that money was a 'cold' subject or that it stultified my dreams of living in the moment rather than aided them. This book is a life-changer! She's so creative and brings a sense of almost mythic grace to the subject of something that's so logical. I can't recommend it highly enough for INFPs and ENFPs especially. :)

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