But really, who are you?

3 MIN READ | #blog

There are many things that come in threes: Primary colors. Spatial dimensions. Little pigs. French musketeers. Child musicians named Hanson. However, when it comes to financial and emotional well-being, working Americans, it turns out, fall into four distinct groups you may have heard us reference before: Day-to-Day Decision-Makers, Ambitious Spenders, Retirement Realists, and Confident Planners.

So, then, who are you, really? While you may see shades of each of these types in your own personality, we each lean toward one. Interestingly, you won’t know by looking in the mirror, or even in your bank account, because complex perceptions and behaviors drive each group’s actions, not simple demographics.

 Day-to-Day Decision-Maker

Day-to-Day Decision-Makers put a lot of effort into meeting monthly expenses, likely because they have trouble living within their means—which is entirely human. Going back to caveman days, we are hardwired to seek immediate gratification. Unfortunately, this leads to a lack of financial and emotional confidence over the long term, which is difficult because Day-to-Day Decision-Makers prioritize feeling safe.

You May Be a Day-to-Day Decision-Maker If

It’s Saturday night, and you’re looking for some entertainment. It’s just after the first of the month and you’ve made your rent or mortgage payment, and covered the minimum on your credit card. The multiplex that just opened down the street has the option to reserve seats, at a premium. You think, “Why not?”

Ambitious Spender

Ambitious Spenders love the latest and greatest of everything. They may line up for new gadgets just as they come out, or covet their neighbor’s luxury SUV with the temporary plate. Though this group is more likely to avoid dealing with finances and has a hard time deferring gratification, they, ironically want to build a business or an estate.

You May Be an Ambitious Spender If

People are still talking about the birthday party you threw for yourself at the hottest restaurant in town, during which a dozen acrobats performed for 500 of your closest friends. Are you on Instagram? #fomo

Retirement Realist

Having a happy marriage and a meaningful spiritual life drives many of the Retirement Realist’s decisions, as does saving for retirement. But finding that tricky work-life balance and managing the avalanche of information that comes with modern living are common stressors in their lives. While achieving fulfillment through family and spiritual life helps to keep retirement realists positive, it doesn’t negate the stress caused by financial concerns.

You May Be a Retirement Realist If

You’re overdue for a vacation. Paradoxically, it’s exhausting to sift through all the options available: Friends or family? City or country? Domestic or foreign? Hotel or Airbnb? Then you think that maybe you should put that cash in your retirement fund, anyway. So many decisions! It’s as if you need a vacation from your vacation planning.

Confident Planner

The financial priorities of a Confident Planner are aligned and they act accordingly. They tend to be physically fit, have a long-term financial plan, and work with a trusted professional. Confident Planners seek to raise their children well and they are good at managing information. Interestingly, monthly expenses, credit card debt, and saving for retirement are non-concerns for this group due to their ability to create a solid plan and stick to it.

You May Be a Confident Planner If

When you take your semi-annual vacation, which you booked six months in advance, you opted for the four-star hotel, rather than the five, and you may even prefer to fly coach, though you can afford first class.

So, which of these profiles reflects your truest self? If you want to confirm your suspicions, take our Financial & Emotional Confidence Quiz to start the journey from concerned to confident. Be assured, people can change by working with a financial professional and adopting the behaviors of the Confident Planner. And that’s a feeling you can take to the bank.

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* Guardian’s Living Confidently survey, 2017.