The 5 languages of money

img_2738My friend Amanda Steinberg, founder of DailyWorth, has a new book out this month called Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms. In years of selling ads to the Vanguards and Fidelitys of the world, she would often have a conversation where the financial firm would complain that their ads — that worked on CNBC! — weren’t working with DailyWorth’s younger female audience. Steinberg would then try to convince them that their messaging of retirement goals and action plans appealed to some people, but not to others, and it might be smart to segment. Eventually, she and psychologist Jennifer Leigh Selig developed a taxonomy of money “types,” based on what people find motivating.

If you want to figure out your money type, you can take the assessment at It’s 40 questions, takes about 5 minutes, and requires an email address. Or you can read the book! Like the 5 languages of love, people can match closest with one type, but have strong tendencies to other types too.

I, unsurprising to myself, match closest with “producer.” (85%). I enjoy accumulating money and watching it grow. I like to plan. I’d rather save than spend on things I don’t particularly feel are necessary. This tends to be a good thing for money management in general. The one real risk for producers is that they don’t like risk. In a world where the span between 10-year treasury yields and the inflation rate is almost nothing, not risking anything is itself a risk. When I was first freelancing full time and living in NYC, I was keeping multiple years of expenses in a no-interest bearing checking account. This is kind of stupid. I mean, really, I couldn’t have found some way to make money in years? Anyway, I eventually opened investment and retirement accounts, and now stash money mostly in index funds. Sometimes producers can be, ahem, cheap. It is always a work in progress to understand that I can spend money to make my life easier or more enjoyable, and it is OK to do that. When booking a vacation hotel recently, I was fully prepared to economize by booking the “garden view” room (i.e. not facing the ocean) and my husband had to intervene.

Close on the heels of that, though, and representing a different side of my personality, is “visionary.” (60%). Visionaries “see money as a tool for self-expression and a means to follow their passion,” writes Amanda. “If you are a Visionary, you are driven to do what you love for work and equally excited when what you’re working on is a great success financially.” There is probably something to this. Despite having a producer’s practicality, back when I was young and single I did not pursue a normal job and elected to write for a living, even though there are probably better ways to make money. Unlike producers, visionaries are quite willing to take risks. Sometimes too much risk. Amanda — a serial entrepreneur — calls herself 100% visionary.

The three other money types (not so much me) are “independent,” “epicure,” and “nurturer.” Independents often have an easy come, easy go attitude toward money. They really don’t like to think about money, actually, and will sometimes live their lives as if it doesn’t exist. This can be liberating or disastrous, depending on how things sort themselves out. Epicures like the good stuff in life, and really enjoy spending money. These people can be quite fun, and pursuing pleasure isn’t a bad thing if you’ve got the money for it. If you don’t, this can mean a lot of debt. Nurturers are interested in money because of what it can do to support other people or causes they believe in. Nurturers were probably most turned off by the financial services firms’ action plan ads. A wealth target is good in so much as it allows you to care for your extended family and save the whales or what have you. On its own, not so much.

Anyway, as with all taxonomies, one probably doesn’t want to take it too seriously, but sometimes there are insights to be had. What money type are you?

10 thoughts on “The 5 languages of money

    1. @Phoebe- I think people can be nurturers with or without small children. Just a personality thing. Some people are always buying presents for friends and family whether they have kids or not.

  1. I was 87% epicure and evenly tied at 52% Producer and Visionary. I spend freely on things I love, but am almost ridiculously frugal on things that don’t matter to me. I begrudge paying for housekeeping and probably should have the cleaning lady come more often, but that cuts into my theater budget. I will drive the same car forever because a car payment would mean I couldn’t travel as much. I will invest in new ideas freely as long as I can sustain my lifestyle. Priorities I guess…

    1. @Jennie- if you know what you really love, then the epicure thing can work just fine (particularly when coupled with frugality in things that don’t matter). The one danger with epicures is that the “live for the moment” thing can translate into not saving, so this is a group for whom automatic transfers are the way to go.

  2. 91% producer, 41 % visionary, 35% epicure, 25% independent, and 16% nurturer. I sound really selfish! To be fair, though, I’m getting ready to retire (early) at the end of the year, and how can you nurture others if you haven’t taken care of yourself? Kind of the oxygen mask on the airplane scenario. I think once I retire, it’ll shift some.

    1. @Ruth – I was pretty similar – I don’t think it’s selfish. I think it’s about knowing that being in a position of financial freedom opens up all sorts of possibilities. Congrats on your impending retirement. That’s wonderful! I’d love to hear how you spend the time once the day comes.

  3. The best part? I sent the link to my husband and we compared our results over dinner Friday night. It was enlightening, even if we almost never fight over money and after almost 30 years of marriage.

    Thanks for the post!

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