In this article
At Vanquis our purpose is to help people take control of their finances and manage life better. But of course, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to this. Your finances are unique to you and can vary depending on a few things. These are background, circumstances, attitudes and personality.
We wanted to explore the personality angle. Specifically, to what extent does our personality impact how we manage our money? Do some traits have a positive or negative impact? Can understanding this help us find ways to improve our money skills, and ultimately our financial confidence?
To find out, we teamed up with the Universities of Lincoln and Swansea on this first-of-its-kind research. A team of social psychologists surveyed 1,632 people, then looked at financial behaviours and personality data:
- Financial confidence – how confident they are in making decisions about money.
- Financial restrictiveness – how controlled or impulsive they are when it comes to budgeting and spending.
- Financial anxiety – how challenging they find managing money.
HEXACO personality traits
- Honesty: honest, faithful, loyal versus sly, pretentious, hypocritical.
- Emotionality: sensitive, anxious, vulnerable versus tough, independent, stable.
- Extraversion: outgoing, sociable talkative versus shy, quiet, reserved.
- Agreeableness: patient, tolerant, agreeable versus stubborn, argumentative.
- Conscientiousness: organized, careful, thorough versus reckless, impulsive, negligent.
- Openness: creative, unconventional, innovative versus shallow, unimaginative, conventional.
What did we find out?
The research showed that people who display higher levels of conscientiousness, extraversion and honesty are more likely to have better money management skills. They are more like to try to maintain their credit score, pay their bills on time and have a long-term budget. This group generally feel more confident with money (19%) than the typical UK adult (13%).
Those who had more stubborn or reserved traits were more negative about their finances. They also may have poorer relationships with money. This group felt much less confident with money (2%) then the average UK adult (13%).
They tend to budget less, have a ‘life’s too short’ mindset with finances. They were also more likely to have bought ‘unnecessary’ items during the pandemic. The research also showed that they were more likely to have a higher number of financial products and use credit more. They can sometimes find themselves short on money at the end of the month.
These traits could result in less financial control and increased financial anxiety. This can make managing money more difficult.
“One of the issues that I often come across in my work is that a lot of people don’t feel included in the conversation about personal finance, because there tends to be a very ‘one size fits all’ approach by many of the most dominant voices in this space. I really believe that there is a way for everyone to manage their money in a way that suits their personality, priorities and circumstances, and that focusing on mindset and behaviour change, rather than prescriptive practical advice, is the way forward”
Here, Clare shares her tips on how understanding your personality traits could help improve your money management skills:
1. Use tools to organise your finances
Not everybody is naturally organised, and organisation can be especially difficult for neurodivergent people, like those with ADHD. It can cause people to miss payments, spend more on last-minute impulse purchases and cause financial stress. One way to get organised is to use tools such as standing orders, Direct Debits, budget planners and calendar reminders. These can help you manage your money and payments better. You can stay on top of your finances and instill a sense of financial control.
2. Think about changing your habits
Another way to inject a sense of organisation into your finances is to focus on small, consistent habit changes. Try tacking a new positive financial habit onto something that you already do regularly - like going through your budget right after Sunday lunch or checking your current account balance while you brush your teeth in the morning.
3. Start small and work up to the big stuff
Highly reserved people might find it very difficult to engage with their finances. This is because facing money mistakes or opening up about any worries might feel almost unbearable. A great tip here is to start with something very small and work up to the big stuff. For example, commit to checking your balance every day, until this doesn’t feel uncomfortable anymore. Then move onto something bigger, like analysing your spending on a weekly basis or making a plan to pay off debt.
4. Suspend your stubbornness
Stubbornness can be a very useful trait when it comes to advocating for yourself. However it can also get in the way if you’re looking to improve your financial wellbeing. It can be difficult to accept that others might know something that we don’t or perhaps have a better way of approaching things, but sometimes an external point of view can be really helpful. If you can suspend that stubbornness for long enough to let someone else help you, you might find that you’re able to see things in a different light and tackle the problem in a new way.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others
It can be very difficult, especially in the age of social media, not to fall victim to ‘comparisonitis’ and allow your material possessions to dictate your self-worth. If you think you might be spending more than you can afford in order to 'keep up' with others, try spending a few minutes each morning reminding yourself of all of the non-material qualities you have. This can help change your mindset and boost your inner confidence - the more confident you are, the less likely you are to compare yourself to others.
6. Be honest
Being open and honest about money is really difficult, especially given the culture we live in, where talking about money is seen as taboo. But being a little more honest about your financial situation - to yourself and those around you - can really help you to keep things under control. If you're pretending everything is fine when it's not, this can lead to bigger problems later on. Being honest about money also benefits others who might also be struggling alone.
It’s clear from the research that there’s a strong correlation between your personality traits and how you manage money.
At the moment we’re facing challenges around costs. With ongoing increases to our cost of living, it’s an important time to assess your approach to money management.
Understanding your personality isn't the answer alone, but it might help you be aware of any existing habits you have. It'll also encourage you to adopt new habits that could help you make positive changes to how you manage your money.
To find out more about the research, visit the University of Lincoln web page.
A survey on over 1,600 people collected data on their six HEXACO personality traits alongside a range of questions on their spending habits during the COVID-19 pandemic, financial behaviours - such as the number of credit cards and loans they have - and attitudes towards saving and spending.