What Does Your Personality Type Mean for Your Finances?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on July 07, 2019

Money isn’t really about money at all. It’s about how you feel about it, or what money means to you. How you value money will determine how you use it (or don’t).

Consider these questions:

  • What motivates you?
  • Why do you spend money?
  • Why do you save money (if you do)?
  • What does money mean to you?

Not surprisingly, your personality type plays a big role in your money style, just like it does in other areas of your life. The Keirsey system of temperaments is one way to use personality type to help identify how your personality affects your relationship with money.

What Your Personality Means for Your Money

In the Keirsey system, there are four overarching personality categories (which are further divided into the 16 four-letter personality types you’re familiar with in the Briggs and Myers system): Artisan (SPs), Guardian (SJs), Idealist (NFs), and Rational (NTs).

Below you can learn more below about each temperament category and their typical money habits. See which “money attitude” and “scenario” fits you best. Then take a look at some of the practical tips included with each temperament so you can start improving your financial habits today.

Artisans: The “Spenders”

Artisans (ESFP, ESTP, ISFP, ISTP) are typically involved in creative fields such as public relations/advertising, performing, arts/crafts, and composing music. They’re freewheeling, devil-may-care types and this attitude translates to their money style.

Money Attitude

If you are an Artisan, you are optimistic and love spontaneity and pleasure. You enjoy spending money and having fun. Artisans often make and spend money easily. You may not be quite so focused on saving or investing for the future. Instead, you like to enjoy the moment -- even if it involves blowing all your spare cash!

The Scenario

Love those Jimmy Choos, but pay day is still a couple of weeks away? No problem! You’ll just put them on your credit card. They would look fantastic with that new outfit you bought over the weekend. You can’t wait to wear this ensemble to the after party you’re going to this weekend. You’ll start saving money next month … maybe.

What to Do? Make It Automatic

If you identify with this type, you may find it helpful to find ways to ensure your money is managed with minimal involvement. For example, you may want to set up an automatic deposit from your paycheck to a savings or investment account to be sure you set aside something for a rainy day.

The same is true for paying bills. You may find it helpful to take the time to set up automatic bill pay so you can be sure your bills are paid each month. Or you may want to try a cash-only system so you can track your spending more easily. You also may find it beneficial to your financial health to enlist the help of a financial advisor.

Guardians: The “Savers”

Guardians (ESFJ, ESTJ, ISFJ, ISTJ) are often involved in fields that require structure and emphasize their drive for service and dependability. These may include supervisory or quality control-related roles, or roles that involve providing for or protecting others. This sense of duty and caution carries over into their highly risk-averse money attitude.

Money Attitude

Guardians have a powerful need for safety and security. Those of you who are Guardians are careful and cautious and believe in following the rules. Because of your need to feel safe and your anxiety about uncertainty, you tend to be an excellent saver.

Guardians are typically more frugal than other types when it comes to spending. Your need to provide and protect leads you to carefully save and make conservative, low-risk investments that compound slowly over time.

The Scenario

You have driven the same car for 15 years that you bought after careful research and paid off in two years. You take your lunch to work every day, where you have built your career as an accountant with a solid company. You only go out to eat for dinner when you have a coupon. Most of your portfolio is invested in your money market account and bonds and you always have enough put away to meet those important financial milestones, like putting the kids through college.

What to Do? Live a Little!

Saving money is not a problem for Guardians. On the contrary, a Guardian’s challenge may be a struggle with letting loose now and then and spending money on fun! If you’re a Guardian, consider setting aside a portion of your expenses for fun and entertainment. Remember to budget in money to enjoy life.

Idealists: The “Givers”

Idealists (ENFJ, ENFP, INFJ, INFP) are heart-centered. They value stability and harmony in relationships. These types are often teachers, counselors, healers, and advocates or champions in some capacity, either in their formal careers or in other areas of their lives. And they like to do with their cash what they like to do with their time -- give.  

Money Attitude

Idealists tend to be compassionate by nature and are driven to find meaning in their lives. As an Idealist, you are more likely to donate your money to help the disenfranchised and downtrodden. You may struggle with concerns about being selfish if you save your money or spend it on yourself. You may view money as “evil.”

While the reason may be slightly different, like Artisans, Idealists also often struggle with finding a balance between spending and saving. The tendency of this type to feel that money isn’t “important” may lead to a struggle to save money and build investments.

The Scenario

You love that your job at the local nonprofit benefits the community. On Saturdays you volunteer at the local animal shelter. You want to change the world yet paying the bills and having any money left to save can sometimes be a challenge because money, in and of itself, doesn’t really feature on your list of priorities in life. You feel “icky” even thinking about it.

What to Do? Align Your Money with Your Values

If you’re an Idealist, it’s important to learn that money is not inherently bad or evil. And it can be used for good. This can help you feel more comfortable both earning more money and investing it. Investing in socially responsible funds could be a good fit for Idealists to build wealth in a way that also aligns with their philanthropic inclination.

Rationals: The “Visionaries”

Rationals (ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP) value willpower, innovation, and autonomy. They are likely to have careers or interests that involve abstract problem-solving, invention and planning for the future. And guess what? This same rational future-focus follows through into their spending habits.  

Money Attitude

Rationals are future-oriented visionaries who consider money as a means to create what they want out of life. To the Rational, money is a tool. Rationals aren’t necessarily focused on saving or spending. Instead, they use money to support their projects, inventions and long-term vision.  They find it hard to part with their cash unless they see a practical use behind the investment. It’s not frugal as such, more...rational. Wealth accumulation occurs along the way.

The Scenario

You pay the bills on time and allocate what’s left over in a strategic way to maximize your credit score. You don’t buy cheap (because it doesn’t last) but you’re not swayed by brands either unless they’re clearly superior. Instant gratification isn’t really a thing for you, and you may accumulate a decent savings pot to use on your personal vision.  If there’s no obvious use for it, you probably won’t spend it.

What to Do? Don’t Be Blindsided

If you’re a Rational, you don’t necessarily fret over saving and investing because you focus on creating the future you want. However, your high self-confidence in your investments may create blind spots. It can be important for you to be sure you have a back-up plan, perhaps by making some conservative investments as well as riskier ones. In other words, be sure to diversify your investments.  

The Takeaway

In general, we can all benefit from making sure we know our monthly expenses and set aside savings for a rainy day or major purchases. Some of us may find this easier than others. Learning more about your personality can help you see your money blind spots and put strategies in place to boost your financial health as well as your quality of life.

Julie M. Goolsby

Julie is a self-employed writer and content strategist who focuses primarily on natural health and wellness. Julie is an INFJ, so it is probably not a surprise that she is also a certified holistic life coach specializing in the creative process and personal transformation. She enjoys art, nature, reading, and exploring spiritual and metaphysical topics — often accompanied by her two cats. Find out more at juliegoolsby.com and @MyLifeCoachJulie on Facebook and Instagram.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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