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Your personality affects a lot about how you interact with the world. But did you know it also affects how you perceive and use money, too?
One popular personality map is the Enneagram, a method that’s been in use for several decades, helping people understand themselves and what motivates them.
Read on to learn how your personality type can affect your finances and how you act with money. You'll also find resources to help address challenges you may face when working to improving your financial future.
The Enneagram and Personal Finance
Developed by Berkeley psychologists back in the 1960s and 70s, the Enneagram has been modified and perfected by various psychologists and teachers.
It maps out different personality types and the ways they interact with each other by using a nine-pointed diagram (the Greek for nine is Ennea).
The 9 Types:
- The Perfectionist
- The Helper
- The Performer
- The Romantic
- The Observer
- The Loyalist
- The Enthusiast
- The Challenger
- The Peacemaker
The Enneagram has become so popular in part because of its focus on each personality type’s strengths.
According to the Enneagram Network, “In addition to providing crucial ‘people skills,’ the Enneagram supports self-awareness, good decision making, and continual learning which is vital for success in today's workplace.”
Understanding your underlying emotions and drivers can also help you manage your money better.
In addition to learning about how your money story affects your finances, one of the ways we can improve our relationship with money is by developing awareness of our money habits and triggers.
Figuring out your personality type and understanding what motivates you takes that awareness one step further.
As you begin to develop awareness about your own particular strengths and weaknesses, you can better identify your strengths and weaknesses in your money management.
How Does the Enneagram Work?
The Enneagram identifies three primary centers of perception: an intellectual center (your head), an emotional center (your heart), and a perceptual center (your body).
Each of us perceives and reacts to the world through one of these three centers. The Enneagram teaches that we tend to adopt one main personality type early in life, as a coping and safety mechanism.
Below is a description of each personality type, along with its corresponding money strengths and weaknesses.
If you don’t already know your Enneagram type, it may be time to figure out which personality type you best fit into. However, Enneagram experts say most people normally fit into one personality type, even if you share characteristics with two or three.
It's worth some additional reading (links below) to figure out which Enneagram type best fits you.
Type 1: The Perfectionist
Perfectionists are body types, relying on gut feelings to perceive the world. They’re motivated by a desire to improve their environments, live the right way, and avoid fault and blame.
They tend to be precise and detail-oriented. Type ones avoid showing their anger, which can lead to feelings of resentment toward others. Ones are grounded and practical and tend to dedicate their lives to service.
They strive for perfection, but their work is never done. Ones feel a lot of anger, especially to those who don’t follow the rules or behave appropriately (Ones have very high standards for others).
Because they want to project an image of self-control to the world, they work to hide those “baser” emotions like anger, and bring up an opposite emotion to cover it.
How does this relate to their relationship with money? Ones are very detail-oriented, so if you’re a One, chances are, you’re great at balancing your checkbook (which you do religiously, just like it’s recommended).
You can be afraid of making a mistake, which may delay you from opening up a Vanguard IRA or transferring a credit card balance to a card with a lower APR.
Ones don’t receive criticism well, so if your partner has opinions about how you manage your money, they may not go over well.
You may be afraid of asking for a raise at work or acknowledging your contributions in the workplace. But as a conscientious One, you're likely doing the job of two people. So, push yourself to ask your boss for more.
Type 2: The Helper
Helpers are feeling-based and focus on relationships. They’re good at forming relationships and supporting others, but have more trouble figuring out what they themselves need.
Twos gravitate towards others, which means they’re great at building community and remembering birthdays. Additionally, because they’re image-conscious, they succeed at making things look good.
Helpers love to be needed and lavish their help on anyone they think needs it but would never dream of asking for or accepting help themselves. This help is based on fear – the fear that they’ll be left alone, or unloved.
Twos may have problems with money because they’re too generous and give more than they should if they sense others need it.
If you’re a Two, remember that your giving can stem from a need to feel love and that others don’t require you to give where you don’t have enough.
Twos may also have trouble receiving help, especially financial assistance when it’s needed. It’s okay to accept help and guidance from others if you’re struggling with money.
If you’re feeling resentful around money, it’s a good clue you’re probably giving more help than you should.
A suggestion? Create a Financial Mission Statement to keep you grounded and focused on yourself too.
Type 3: The Performer
Threes are also feeling-based and work hard to get things done. Achieving their goals is a big motivator for Type 3 Performers. They are the archetypal “Type As” who get lots of self-worth from external praise and achievement.
It can be difficult for them to accept failure because Threes equate success with being loved. That leads them into the “successful person” they think others want to be around, making it hard for Threes to show their authentic selves to others.
However, when Threes are aware of these limitations, they can be optimistic and resilient sources of inspiration for other people.
It can be hard for Threes to understand their emotions, and they may look to others to understand themselves.
Threes can be great budgeters. They can set budgeting or debt-payoff goals and then knock them out of the park. However, they also may overspend in their efforts to prove to others they’re successful.
If you’re a Performer, be aware of the motivations behind your purchases. Are you buying that designer purse because you love the brand, or to show off your success?
You may have a hard time understanding your money triggers, so it’s a good idea to seek outside advice on your spending patterns.
It’s also a good idea to work on balance around money. You don’t always have to set financial goals and work tirelessly to achieve them. Money can also be used to enjoy life and enjoy relationships with those you love.
And taking care of yourself matters too – How Can I Practice Self-Care Affordably?
Type 4: The Romantic
Romantics are feeling-based types who often long for something more. Type Fours can be envious when they compare themselves to others. For Romantics, authenticity is key, and they experience life through creative pursuits, like music and art.
Fours can feel like something is missing from themselves, and for that reason often want to be special or unique. They tend to be very emotional and experience dramatic highs and lows in life.
Fours can bring lots of creativity to their money management. They want to invest in things they believe in deeply and use their finances in creative and authentic pursuits.
That can mean great ideas for starting a business or out-of-the-box risk-taking.
If you’re a Romantic, you’ll need to be careful to balance your emotions and the more practical aspects of money management.
You may consider hiring a financial advisor to help you manage money in a way that aligns with your personal belief system, but also in a way that’ll help your finances grow over time.
Also, be aware that it’s easy for your personality type to become envious of others’ financial situations. You may need to work hard on creating a unique, money plan, and celebrating your personal money wins.
Before you go off on a Google search, read – How Do I Hire a Good Financial Advisor? 10 Questions to Ask
Type 5: The Observer
Observers are thinking types who focus on intellectual understanding and autonomy. Privacy and independence are very important to these types, and they need a lot of time alone.
Fives have a depth of knowledge in many different fields but are slow to share information about their personal lives.
Observers are afraid they won’t have enough–time, attention, or resources–so they tend to withdraw and hoard essentials. Fives can sometimes use academic pursuits as a stand-in for relationships. They prefer to observe life from a distance rather than participate.
Their motivation stems from a need to understand, but their fear of self-disclosure can lead to isolating themselves from people they love.
When it comes to money, Fives can have a hard time with generosity. Because Fives worry about loss, they can instinctively hoard money in hopes of ensuring there’s enough for the future.
If you’re an Observer, you’ll need to work to include giving (to charity, Christmas gifts, dinner for neighbors) in your budget.
But, if you’re a Five, you’re also probably well-read and confident with the handling of your own finances. If you’re not, you can learn, especially with enough alone time to do so.
It can be difficult for you to communicate your feelings about money with your partner. Sometimes, if you’re not sure what to do with money, you can block that part of your life out.
But, instead, pick up that credit card bill and spend some time creating a plan to pay it off. You’re super capable, and if you give your finances the attention they deserve, they’re likely to flourish.
Fives might benefit from reading articles in our Giving Tuesday Series.
Type 6: The Loyalist
Sixes are thinking types, and tend to be strategic thinkers. They almost always do what's best for the common good. Sixes are loyal and reliable, but can also be worst-case-scenario types.
Loyalists tend to be funny, warm, and self-sacrificing, but they’re constantly questioning what’s going on around them.
Sixes are ruled by fear (which may be low-grade anxiety), and their deepest need is to feel secure. Sixes value family, home, and marriage.
With money, Sixes tend to be cautious (no surprise there). Even when things are going well, Sixes can wonder what will happen to mess things up.
You love weekly budget meetings with your spouse where you ensure things are on track. You also enjoy being part of a team with your spouse or family.
You may need to adopt other people’s systems because you’re doubtful your own will work well.
Because you focus on the worst-case scenario, you can easily forget past successes, so you’ll need to make it a point to write down your financial wins to remind yourself you are, in fact, good at this money stuff.
Another great read for Sixes – How Can I Best Automate My Finances?
Type 7: The Enthusiast
Sevens are thinking types who tend to be optimistic and positive. They get excited by multiple activities and can switch from one new interest to another.
Enthusiasts aren’t as concerned with what others think, a great quality, but they also block out any unpleasant feelings or emotions.
Sevens want to avoid pain, and part of doing that involves filling their lives with positive experiences.
When it comes to their finances, Sevens can fit the profile of the classic Shopaholic.
If you’re a Seven, you’ll probably need to put strict rules around your money so you don’t overspend on fun things that excite you “in the moment’.
Your enthusiasm and boundless energy may mean you have a high salary, and/or are very generous with your cash.
It can also be hard for Sevens to focus on who they really are, so make sure to consider your true values. This will help you spend, save, and invest in things that really matter, not just those that catch your eye in the moment.
That might mean some deep thinking about whether you’d enjoy a trip to Napa in the fall, or the new sofa now. Once you prioritize the travel, you can better resist impulse purchases that drain your finances and start saving for it instead.
If you’re a Seven, this post might really help – How Can You Use Values To Make the Best Money Decisions?
Type 8: The Challenger
Eights are body-based types who are natural leaders, energetic, and intense. Challengers can be impatient and like to do things their way. They're also naturally suspicious of others and slow to trust.
Eights are confident, independent, and fearless. However, they’re also quick to anger and can have an all-or-nothing approach to life. Eights thrive on conflict, and for Challengers, conflict is connection.
With money, Eights can either overspend or obsess about their money. If you’re an Eight, you probably feel very confident about your finances. Or, if not, you act like you are.
Eights tend to be generous, but budgeting can be hard for you. It’s hard to allow anyone or anything, even a budget, to control your life.
You may need to work at allowing others to guide you when it comes to your money, or to participate in financial decisions, instead of making it an all-or-nothing activity.
Do you need a financial coach? Read this to help you decide. Is Hiring a Coach Worth the Money?
Type 9: The Peacemaker
Nines are body types committed to fairness and equality. They can hear all sides of an argument, and be unselfish and neutral.
When things are going well, they are even-keeled and go-with-the-flow, great listeners, and confidants.
They tend to be practical, down-to-earth, unselfish, and often characterized as great friends. They also tend to dull negative feelings by burying themselves in behaviors that take them away from relationships with others.
This can include obsessive reading, watching TV, or worse vices like addictions. Nines don’t want to confront negative feelings or situations in the interest of maintaining harmony.
Peacemakers can have good financial patterns by not stressing overly about money, being generous with others, and making sure their money is managed well.
Sometimes, though, if a financial crisis comes along, Nines will bury their heads in the sand and “ignore” it.
If you’re a Nine, you’ll need to work at actively engaging with your money, whether that’s setting up a monthly budget, working with a financial advisor, or regularly sitting down to review and pay all of your bills.
Make sure to give yourself the flexibility to adjust your spending or debt-payoff if life gets in the way, as this will help you avoid the tendency to ignore the negative parts of your finances.
Nines might benefit from checking out financial tools available at Personal Capital.
Personality and Personal Finance
By identifying your personality type, you can understand yourself better, and an improved understanding of yourself leads to a better understanding of how you manage your finances.
Money can be a complicated and sometimes scary topic.
But if you have a heightened understanding of what makes you tick, and why you feel the way you feel about certain parts of your finances, then you’ll be in a better position to work through those emotions.
This will help you do an even better job of managing your money and creating financial security for you and your family.
Sources and Further Reading:
- The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, a book with in-depth explanations about each of the different personality types
- The Enneagram Network website, teaching how understanding your personality type can help you at work
- What the Enneagram Can Teach You About Your Money Relationships, BariTessler.com, a great compendium of personal experiences that help explain each personality type’s relationship with money
- The Enneagram Worldwide website, an educational non-profit that teaches about Enneagram personality types