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Who Are You at Home with Money?

What’s your money persona, and how does your style in this arena relate to your long-term financial well-being?

Everyone has a personal style that’s recognizable at work and another (possibly different) one at home. These personas reflect the way we like to approach different situations, think about the issues that arise within each realm of life, and handle the tasks that are part of them. They’re based on personality as well as the skills we’ve learned and the emotions we bring to a given domain, whether modeled after our parents’ behavior or stemming from our previous experiences.

When it comes to dealing with money and household finances, the same thing holds true. That’s not to say our personas are necessarily consistent. Many people exhibit one style as a professional, another as a parent or partner, and yet another in their approach to money matters within their relationship.

What’s your money persona, and how does your style in this arena relate to your long-term financial well-being? Here are some of the most common personas and key questions for each type.

Leader – “I have always enjoyed math, numbers and money. Handling the finances is really no big deal.” This is the person that takes the lead is every aspect of financial management and decisions at home. Their comfort may come from confidence when dealing with money (enter potential gender equality issues); they claim to be an expert due to their “B” in Finance 101 in undergraduate school.   

I would ask this person: What should your role be within the household to engage your partner in financial management?

Delegator – “I like to focus on my core competencies. We divide and conquer. I let him/her handle it.”
My personal concern about this common personality type is that in turning to efficiencies/productivity reasoning, i.e. delegation, one member of the couple is missing out on financial literacy and basic awareness about the day-to-day-workings of the household budget.

This is a very common pattern I observe in households with female breadwinners. Typically, she is in a senior leadership role at work and is used to delegating professionally. While this may play into the reasoning, I believe that there may be less conscious reasoning as well: She delegates to him in order to maintain some semblance of traditional gender roles, a la “the man handles the money.” It’s an attempt to create more equality based on guilt over her greater income. This kind of overcompensation occurs often, in various forms.

I would ask this person: How do you know if the Starbucks budget is going off the chain or not? Simple awareness of household expenses is important, even if your household income is > $1million. Deep dives might not be necessary, but a working knowledge of where the money goes is.

Equal Contributor – “We both work together each week on paying the bills, discuss bigger financial purchases, and contribute equally to new financial projects like refinancing a mortgage, seeing an estate planning attorney or hiring a financial advisor.” This couple can tell me within ~$1000 how much they spend per month personally. They pow-wow each week and discuss financial projects they want to work on. While there may be some division of labor on projects, there is consistency in financial awareness and consensus around bigger financial projects. This is the holy grail, but it can also potentially lead to overconfidence in the financial space as their financial world gets more complicated.

I would ask this person: At what point do you think that it is necessary to seek out niched expertise in your financial world? (i.e. financial advisor, CPA, an estate planning attorney vs. Legal Zoom, etc.)

Avoider – “I hate math. I never got more than a C in math in high school. Numbers just aren’t my bag, man. My partner is much better able to handle all this money stuff than I am, so I leave it all to him/her.” Oh, the excuses of yore. Just because of a bad teacher in the 6th grade, this person is letting past circumstances dictate their future narrative (enter women and STEM issues). This mindset can be contagious and is also passed down to children.

I would ask this person: Isn’t financial illiteracy truly a good thing for each partner? What happens if your partner dies or you get divorced? Is this persona a good example of engagement to set for your kids or grandkids?

The financial services industry creates whole markets around divorced and widowed women. This group is considered a target demographic because women are highly likely to be a delegator or an avoider or to have played that role within the financial dynamics of their past relationships. 

As individuals, partners, and as a society, we should all ask this question: Who is female financial illiteracy serving? And if you’re uncomfortable with the answer, start taking steps to change that dynamic in your own life and beyond.

Meredith Moore is a 20-year veteran of the financial advisory industry who specializes in bringing a customized approach to support the highly personal dynamics that govern her clients’ relationship with money and success. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards and a noted speaker and writer focusing on the intersection of power, money, and gender within relationships. Ms. Moore can be reached at www.moorewealthmgmt.com.

Meredith C. Moore, Registered Representative, offering securities through NYLIFE Securities LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC, A Licensed Insurance Agency. 1125 Cambridge Square, Suite C, Alpharetta, GA 30009 (770) 587-0281. Financial Adviser offering investment advisory services through Eagle Strategies LLC, A Registered Investment Adviser. Moore and Associates Wealth Management is not owned or operated by NYLIFE Securities LLC or its affiliates. Moore and Associates Wealth Management, as well as NYLIFE Securities LLC and its affiliates, do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice.

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