Money is a big deal; it’s emotional; it’s highly personalized; and it relates to power, privilege, our belief systems, and family histories. It’s also often highly stigmatized, leading folks to often neglect understanding the role it plays in our respective lives. There’s value, though, in understanding how we each interact with matters of finance, and unpacking the different money archetypes can help each of us better understand ourselves and others.
In the latest episode of The Well+Good Podcast, host Taylor Camille and I discuss the eight different money archetypes. As a psychotherapist, I’ve come to understand that the ways we engage with our finances can help us feel empowered about our priorities, behaviors, and patterns of how we show up in the world.
One common factor that colors a person’s relationship to money in America especially is socioeconomic status. Many of us are afraid of being judged and can experience shame around our financial choices, ranging from how much we spent on suede boots or the amount of student loan debt we have. Some of us might be class-straddling—we didn’t grow up with money, and therefore never learned about how to spend it or save it now that we have some of it. I, for one, would like to get back every hour I spent on precalculus and instead learn how to take care of my financial health.
Regardless of our socioeconomic status, we all developed a way to relate to money, consciously or unconsciously. Consider who handled the money in your home growing up and how they spent it. Did anyone ever share any money mantras with you, like “money doesn’t grow on trees?” Was money about survival, or was it about pleasure? Was it used as a way to gain and assert control, or was it shared? Did you long for it or did you have it? Do you feel joy or fear when you think about money?
Money archetypes help you see specific patterns, attitudes, tendencies, and beliefs that you have surrounding money so you can begin to face some of what stresses you out about it.
Sitting with these questions and getting to know more about your “money story,” as I like to call it, can help you develop a more empowering relationship to it. Identifying your money archetype can help, too. It’s a simple way to learn about specific patterns, attitudes, tendencies, and beliefs that you have surrounding money so you can begin to face some of what stresses you out about it.
As you read through, you may notice you identify with more than one archetype or that your archetype has changed over time. None of these categories are fixed, nor are they good or bad. Rather, they can help you identify areas of strength and where you feel like you need more support in order to reach your financial goals.
Many of the archetypes below come from money mindset mentor and author Denise Duffield-Thomas, who also created a “bootcamp” that has supported nearly 10,000 students in reaching their financial goals. Her archetypes, as opposed to others, are strengths-based rather than problem-focused, which I appreciate. I also include one additional archetype, called “The Innocent,” from certified money coach Karen McAllister, because it is a money mindset that I hear a lot about as a psychotherapist and group facilitator.
A breakdown of the 8 money archetypes
1. The maverick
You are a risk-taker and are used to pushing limits. Entrepreneurs are often mavericks. You see big gains, and you take leaps to get there. One question to ask yourself is: “What are my boundaries around risk?” Figuring out how much uncertainty you can tolerate and how to balance your desire for big rewards with your desire for peace of mind may be important for you along your journey.
2. The romantic
You love spending money on yourself and others because it makes you feel good. You are so good at going after the luxuries in life! Budgeting feels restrictive, and you’d much rather have something that feels freeing. You are skilled in living in line with what brings you pleasure. It might be helpful to consider whether your short-term spending is aligned with your long term goals.
3. The ruler
You are very invested in making money and working hard to do so. You are en route to building an empire and generating wealth for yourself and others. While you thrive on innovation and creating, it can be helpful to be aware of striving and to check in and ask yourself a few questions: “Am I enjoying the journey? How are others impacted by my “ruling” ways? Who benefits and who may be left behind?”
4. The innocent
Money might overwhelm you. It can feel hard to look at money, talk about it, or handle it. You might have someone like your partner or a financial advisor be in control of your accounts. It can be helpful to figure out what, if anything, you may be avoiding about examining your money and your relationship to it How might it be helpful, and how might it be harmful to deny certain realities?
5. The celebrity
Money is about status for you. You buy things so that you can be part of a social experience and be perceived in a certain way. You like to live like a star. Consider how much of your spending is extrinsically motivated and what, if any, insecurity this spending may be helping you avoid.
6. The nurturer
You love to give and spend on others, and it is important to you to show care through spending. You are so committed to others and want them to thrive. It can be helpful to be mindful of your own financial needs. Considering why you are giving in this way and keeping track of resentment can help you become more aware of the amount you are giving.
7. The accumulator
You love to save, save, save and create financial stability for yourself. You are very adept at denying a culture of materialism, as you’ve got your eye on your long-term goals. You may want to consider whether you’re delaying certain gratifications that you crave and want to integrate into your life to build present-day satisfaction.
8. The connector
People and connection are the most important thing to you, and you use money in the name of connection and community building. You have found that connection, including networking, can actually bring you money. It can be helpful to be aware of what connections money can help foster and which might you want to separate from your spending.
Being in your financial reality, no matter what it is, will enable you to figure out how you feel about your tendencies and decide if you want to adjust them. What isn’t measured isn’t monitored, so if you’re wanting to monitor your progress toward your financial goals, getting to know more about where you align with the money archetypes at is a good place to start.
Want to learn even more about the money archetypes? Listen to the full podcast episode here.