We all have one, some more than others.
Personality is defined as “the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.”
There is only one of you.
It is the unique combination of traits that make the individual who they are, and the facets that make up our personalities play a significant role in our lives.
In fact, your personality traits will likely significantly impact the outcomes of your life, either helping or hindering your ability to succeed in various areas.
One big area impacted by personality characteristics is money and personal finance, where you may find that some of your personality traits are more desirable than others.
Tawnya here, and I’m one of those lucky enough to possess several personality traits conducive to good money management. What this means is that the makeup of my personality is such that it’s easier for me to make good decisions when it comes to money.
This doesn’t mean that it will be impossible for you to be good with money if you don’t possess all of the traits I’m about to discuss, just that it may be more difficult for you if you don’t have at least some of these traits.
Even if you don’t see yourself reflected in these traits, there’s a light at the end of the article (so keep reading!).
Personality plays a big role in your money management, and you’re about to find out why.
Here are 13 personality traits that lead to money success.
13 Personality Traits That Lead to Money Success
This one is probably pretty obvious, but one personality trait that is especially conducive to good money management is whether you’re a saver or a spender.
Like all the traits we’ll be discussing, being a saver or a spender is a combination of natural-born tendencies and environmental factors.
I’m a saver, and although I grew up in a household comprised of spenders (environment), my natural tendency has always been to save. I was also heavily influenced by my grandparents, who are savers.
Just as the name suggests, savers prefer to save money. Savers also fall on a continuum, from those who avoid spending money at all costs to those who generally save but who also won’t shy away from spending on things they feel are valuable.
I fall in the middle of the continuum, where I spend money on things I think are valuable and frugal but also look to save wherever I can and generally avoid any unnecessary spending.
Savers are generally very good at managing their money. They don’t spend money unnecessarily, look to get good value for the money they do spend, and make sure they have at least a rainy-day fund available to them should they need it.
Being a saver is one personality trait that will make it easier for you to have success with your money.
Another personality trait that leads to money success is having the ability to delay gratification.
Delayed gratification is being able to resist the temptation of an immediate reward in order to wait for a later, often better, reward.
For example, let’s say you’re saving for a car, and you want to pay cash. The car costs $10,000, and you only have $5,000 now, so you start saving. However, there are all sorts of temptations you come across daily, like eating out, getting coffee, or going to the movies. Will you be able to stick to your budget to save for the car (delayed gratification), or will you fall prone to temptation (instant gratification)?
It’s easy to see how the ability to delay gratification would lead to money success.
Those who can delay gratification can resist immediate pleasures and temptations while working toward a larger and better goal. They can see the big picture and avoid falling prey to the day-to-day whims of their emotions.
Do you fully think through your options and the likely consequences before you act? If you do, then you possess the personality trait of being calculated.
Most people tend to think of the antonym of this trait when it comes to money: impulsive.
Those that are impulsive act based on emotions in the moment without fully thinking through the consequences, and as a result, often make decisions they later regret.
On the other hand, those who are calculated make decisions knowing exactly what they are getting into. Whether the action is good or bad, the calculated thinker has thoroughly thought it through.
In the realm of money, calculated thinkers weigh the outcomes of different actions and whether or not those actions will move them toward their goal or away from it. If they do choose to spend money, it’s because they’ve assessed the pros and cons and decided that it was worth it.
Calculated thinkers find it easier to maintain a budget, get good value for their purchases, and reach their financial goals.
An extension of the calculated thinker is the calculated risk-taker.
Most financial pundits will tell you that there is a certain amount of risk involved in building wealth. While you can opt to save money the safe way (savings accounts, CDs, etc.), the key to making your money truly work for you is by putting it to work.
The most effective way to put your money to work is to invest it, either in the stock market, real estate, or some other venture. All of these options carry risk, so it’s important to do your homework and know what you’re getting into before investing your hard-earned money.
This is where a calculated risk-taker is likely to succeed with money. They do their homework and are comfortable with the level of risk they are taking. They are also likely in it for the long haul and not just trying to make a quick buck.
Luckily, information about all kinds of investment opportunities is available, making it very easy to educate yourself and make the sort of calculated risks that lead to money success.
Yet another personality trait that makes it easier to find success with money is being highly driven.
Highly driven, or highly motivated, individuals have a high drive to succeed and tend to never be completely satisfied with the accomplishments they’ve already made. They want more, they want to do better, and they will do whatever it takes for them to reach their goals.
In fact, being highly driven is often what separates those who do well from those who do very well.
A highly driven individual may work multiple jobs in order to save more money, pay off debt, or reach some other goal. They may get up earlier, use their spare time to accomplish their goals, and work harder than their peers.
Highly driven individuals go above and beyond the average, which makes them more likely to succeed when it comes to money.
Are you meticulous, careful, disciplined, and dependable? If so, then you are likely a very conscientious person.
Conscientiousness is one of the Big 5 Personality Traits and falls on a continuum from highly conscientious to not conscientious.
Those who are highly conscientious are prepared, reliable, and organized. They pay attention to detail and get things done.
In terms of money, a highly conscientious individual will have goals and plans to achieve them. They’ll also know exactly where their money is going and will be disciplined enough to stick to their budgets and plans.
Being highly conscientious is another personality trait that leads to money success.
Yet another complementary personality trait that makes it easier to succeed with money is being future-oriented.
Future orientation is related to being calculated and conscientious and is the extent to which an individual thinks about and plans for the future.
Those who are future-oriented are able to look ahead and plan for their future, both near and far. They consider how their actions might impact them in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
Thus, an individual who is future oriented can look 30 years down the road and understand how their money actions today will impact their future self. They plan to pay off debt, reaching financial goals, and saving for retirement.
They make money decisions while also looking to the future and the impact years from now.
This one may not be as obvious on the surface, but it is one that has significantly impacted my life in terms of finances.
Modesty is generally thought of in terms of clothing and downplaying your achievements, but in general, it’s a way of thinking and acting that doesn’t seek to draw attention to yourself.
In other words, modest people don’t use possessions to show off to others and instead prefer to fly under the radar. They may wear clothes from discount stores, drive an older car, and buy secondhand items.
They are not the ones on social media constantly posting about their possessions and seeking attention from others. In fact, most modest people don’t attach value to what others might think of their possessions at all.
With this background in place, it’s easier to see how being modest would help you successfully manage your finances.
If your goal is not to draw attention to yourself, it’s easier to save money on the items you purchase and get maximum usage out of them because it doesn’t matter if they are new and shiny.
With modesty, your goal values, not attention or status, allowing you to save money on most purchases.
An extension of modesty, those who are non-materialistic also find it easier to find success with their money.
Those who are materialistic value possessions and tend to be focused on accumulating them. The newer and better the possessions, the better these individuals feel. Their self-worth is often tied to the types and number of items they own, such as an expensive car, a large house, and designer clothes.
On the other hand, non-materialistic people tend to value experiences more than things. If they are to splurge on something, it will likely be a vacation, a night out with friends or a once in a lifetime experience.
Non-materialistic people have possessions, but they are less likely to be concerned about having the newest and best and may keep their possessions to only those essential to their life. The possessions they do have serve a purpose other than to look good, and their self-worth isn’t defined by those possessions.
Non-materialistic people tend to spend far less money on possessions and tend to keep those they do have for as long as they serve their purpose. This trait leads to non-materialist people spending less to acquire their possessions and having to replace them far less often.
Do you easily give up when facing adversity, or do you persist until you accomplish your goals?
Perseverance is the ability to persist with something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. In other words, those who are perseverant continue to work toward their goals despite experiencing setbacks.
Perseverance is an incredibly helpful trait to have when it comes to successfully managing your finances.
Those who are perseverant will continue to work toward their goals despite experiencing bumps along the way. They will continue to try and stick to their budget in spite of failures, they’ll strive to pay off debts despite the amount of time it may take or the amounts they owe, and they will hold their course even when the market takes a downturn.
Perseverant people don’t give up easily and will continue to try new strategies until they reach their goals.
Resistant To Change
This personality trait can either help you or hurt you, depending on the circumstances, but I’ve found that it helps more than it hurts when it comes to personal finance.
I’m generally a creature of habit and resistant to change. This doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to learn, grow, and make adjustments as necessary; it just means that if something is working for me, I’m not likely to change it.
This trait has mostly come in handy in terms of possessions I own. I’m reticent to buy new items when the old ones work perfectly well, in part because I’m naturally resistant to change. If that item is still working, then I see no reason to buy another.
My natural resistance to change means that it’s going to take quite a bit to overcome inertia and get me to do something different. That is unless I see that something is no longer getting the job done. In that case, I know a change is in my best interest, and I’ll set out to make it.
Thus, being resistant to change can save you a lot of money and help you succeed with your personal finances. Just make sure your resistance is only reserved for those things still working for you, and be open to making changes for those that aren’t.
Internal Locus of Control
A person’s beliefs about locus of control play a significant role in the outcomes of their lives, let alone their ability to succeed with money.
Locus of control refers to your belief system about the causes of events and experiences, along with the factors that are attributed to whether you succeed or fail.
To put it more simply, what do you think has more control over your life, outside factors, or yourself?
Those with an internal locus of control attribute success or failure to themselves and their own efforts. If they succeed, they give themselves credit. If they fail, they place the blame on themselves and look for ways to do better.
Those with an internal locus of control believe that the outcomes of their lives are a direct result of their efforts and have confidence that if they put forth more effort than they will succeed eventually.
On the other hand, those with an external locus of control attribute their successes and failures to luck, fate, or other outside factors. Essentially, most of life’s outcomes are due to factors beyond their control.
They might blame the bad boss for not receiving a promotion rather than their own shortcomings. They might attribute a good score on a test to it being an easy test rather than their knowledge.
With the above definitions, it’s easy to see why an internal locus of control mindset would lead to success with finances.
Those with an internal locus of control would believe that their financial situation, and whether or not it improves, would be solely up to them. On the flip side, those with an external locus of control would believe that their financial situation is controlled by outside factors that they cannot influence.
Those with an internal locus of control believe they can change their situation and thus are more likely to do so.
Mindset is a similar concept to focus of control, except in this case, the belief is whether or not things can be changed rather than who/what has the power to change them.
Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, coined the terms growth and fixed mindset years ago after studying thousands of children and their attitudes about failure.
Growth and fixed mindset refer to the underlying beliefs individuals have about intelligence and learning.
Those with a fixed mindset believe that you are born with certain natural talents and intelligence and that they will not change no matter what you do. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe that although you may have natural talents, you can get better at anything with enough practice and effort.
As with an internal locus of control belief, those with a growth mindset belief are more likely to succeed with money because they believe they can get better with practice and effort.
Even if they aren’t naturally good with money or have little financial education, those with a growth mindset believe that they can always build new skills and enhance current skills if they put in the effort.
Overall, the belief is that one can get better given enough effort rather than a belief that you either have it, or you don’t.
Can Anything Be Done
Where do you fall on the continuum of the 13 personality traits that lead to money success discussed above?
I feel very fortunate to have these traits for the overall enrichment of my life, especially because of how they help me in making sound financial decisions. If you’re like me and already possess most of these traits, you’re probably feeling pretty good.
But what if you don’t see yourself reflected in these traits? Are you doomed to financial hardship (external locus of control) by your natural tendencies with no recourse to improve (fixed mindset)?
In the introduction, I encouraged readers to keep going until the end because there was a light at the end of the article, and there is.
I ended the discussion with a growth mindset for a reason because it isn’t just a mind trick that encourages you to keep trying; it’s actually a scientific fact.
You CAN become better in any area through consistent practice and effort despite natural shortcomings or talent.
Research over the last decade has shown that the brain is much more malleable than was first thought, even for adults whose brains are largely done growing.
The key is neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to reorganize by forming new neural connections.
As you practice a new skill, new neural connections are formed. The more you practice that skill, the more connections are formed and the stronger that pathway becomes until you become really good at that skill.
Neuroplasticity also works in the opposite way, extinguishing skills or habits that we no longer use. However, changing undesirable habits will typically only work if you replace them with another behavior.
For example, let’s say you want to become more of a saver than a spender. You practice saving until it starts to feel natural, and your impulses to spend are reduced. What you are doing is building and strengthening a new neural pathway while extinguishing another.
Think of it like a trail in the woods. The trail you always take is well-worn, and it’s easy to go down that trail. Now say you decide to cut a new path through the woods. At first, the trail will be tough. It will be overgrown and difficult to walk down. But, the more you walk down that path, the easier it becomes until it is as worn as the original. All the while, the original path has become overgrown from lack of use, making it less likely you’ll go down that path again.
It’s the same with neural pathways. The more you go down a particular pathway, the stronger it becomes. To replace a habit or behavior, you must put forth consistent effort to build a new pathway while avoiding the old, well-trodden one.
So long story short, you can change your innate personality traits, including ones that lead to money success; it just takes consistent desire and effort to do so.
Moral of the Story
All of us have a unique set of traits and characteristics that make up our personality.
Although we are born with some innate characteristics, some of our habits and traits are a result of the environment we grew up in.
As with anything, some traits are more desirable than others and may lead to more success in various aspects of our lives.
Money is no different, and in this article, we’ve identified 13 personality traits that lead to money success.
- Delayed gratification
- Calculated risk-taker
- Highly driven
- Resistant to change
- Internal locus of control
- Growth mindset
Don’t see yourself reflected in this list? Don’t despair!
Luckily, new research on the brain has shown that neuroplasticity is more than just a mindset; it’s a fact. The more practice and effort you put into a skill, the better you will become at that skill, no matter your starting point or innate talents.
Neuroplasticity means that no matter where you currently fall on the continuum of these traits, you WILL be able to move toward developing them if you work at it. And, even if you’re already good at some of these things, there’s always room for improvement.
No matter where you currently are with your finances, you can improve them. The key is to put forth effort into learning and then consistently practicing those skills until they become second nature.
There’s no excuse not to do better with your money.
You just have to do it.
Tawnya is a 34-year-old Special Education teacher in the sixth year of her career. Along with her partner, Sebastian, she runs the blog Money Saved is Money Earned. Tawnya has worked extremely hard to reach her goals and remain debt-free.
She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University and has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.
Tawnya and Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. It is this wealth of tips and tricks that they wish to pass on to others.