When you think about money, how do you feel? What physical or emotional reaction happens inside you when the topic of money is brought up? Do you feel happy? Stressed? Worried and anxious? Secure?
How you feel about money in these moments is likely a clue to your financial archetype. Archetype simply means a typical example or a general way to describe a person. When it comes to money psychology and financial planning, your financial archetype likely plays a large role in how you navigate your financial life.
Many people have doubts about themselves and their relationship with money. You may be making financial decisions based not on your actual financial situation, but rather on unconscious feelings or behaviors and reactions learned in your youth.
Is that how you prefer to live? Or would you prefer living more mindfully and without money anxiety? This is where your financial archetype can be transformative.
There are eight major financial archetypes. You may strongly identify with one of them or you may find you contain pieces of many. Your financial archetype can also evolve over time. Whichever one speaks to you, knowing which financial archetype you are can ultimately help you clarify your money values and give you a better sense of your authentic money self.
This understanding can help you plan for the future to achieve your best hopes for your financial life and legacy.
The Research and Development of Financial Archetypes
In his book, It’s All About the Money, he recounts how the money stories, experiences, and hurts of his youth were unconsciously affecting his financial decision-making as an adult. He saw that he was basing many of his decisions on insecurities from the past rather than the security of knowing who he was today.
This realization caused him to question just how little we reflect on our foundational experiences, and how those experiences can still play such a prominent role in our adult lives. Often, these experiences create painful emotional states.
Seeking clarity, Brent immersed himself in defining the core tenets of each financial archetype, including how identifying with one archetype can lead to having a strong reaction to another.
What he ultimately found was an unspoken world of deeply-seeded thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that were the lush yet tangled inner garden of everyone he met, including himself.
What's your Financial Archetype?
The Eight Financial Archetypes
Below are the eight financial archetypes. You will likely have traits of several – in fact, it may be desirable to learn how to harness traits of all of them. Who wouldn’t want to find balance in the most financially diverse way?
But no matter which ones speak to you most, remember, identifying yourself with an archetype is not an exercise in self-judgment. The first step towards clarity is simply acknowledging what is already there and building upon it.
Also keep in mind, your archetype is merely a reflection of where you are at today. It’s possible it will evolve over time, especially as you embrace new values and priorities in different seasons of living.
As a Caretaker, you give and invest money to express compassion and generosity, emotions are likely stirred in you when seeing or reading about suffering. You’re more likely than most other archetypes to make charitable contributions or help family and friends. The question is, do you care for yourself as well as you do for others?
Positive Characteristics: Generosity, Interconnectedness, Compassion
Painful Emotional States: Helplessness, Guilt, Martyrdom, Anger, Superiority
Archetypes that Balance: The Innocent, The Pleasure Seeker, The Saver
As an Innocent, you’re optimistic, trusting, and passionate. Inspiration is a key value for you and your optimism can be contagious. You’re hopeful and adaptable and you enjoy networks, trusting others with relative ease. However, you may also have some avoidance issues – and if you find yourself not paying close enough attention to warning signs, your lack of detail orientation may keep you from seeing something important.
Positive Characteristics: Trust, Inspiration, Simplicity, Optimism
Painful Emotional States: Resignation, Helplessness, Overwhelm, Avoidance Archetypes that Balance: The Guardian, The Empire Builder, The Saver
The Empire Builder
As an Empire Builder, you thrive on hard work and innovation to create something with enduring impact. At worst, you can be grandiose, dominating, or insatiable, but you also exhibit great capacity for hard work, focus, innovation, and decisiveness. The question is, given that you know your time here is precious and finite, are you balancing your life appropriately?
Positive Characteristics: Outsized Financial/Social Impact, Leadership, Differentiation
Painful Emotional States: Insecurity, Grandiosity, Instability, Workaholism, Loneliness
Archetypes that Balance: The Pleasure Seeker, The Caretaker, The Innocent
The Pleasure Seeker
As a Pleasure Seeker, you prioritize pleasure and enjoyment in the here and now, which feeds your body and spirit. While your pitfall is that your desires or impulsiveness can at times get the best of you, you also enjoy life to the fullest – an admirable quality.
Positive Characteristics: Sensory Pleasure, Health, Joy, Abundance
Painful Emotional States: Pain, Impatience, Greed
Archetypes that Balance: The Guardian, The Saver
As a Guardian, your positive intention is to be careful, alert, and prudent. Safety is your highest priority. Concern for safety is a wonderful expression of your higher wisdom, which always has your (and others’) wellbeing at heart. But when your worry gets the best of you, the anxiety might become intolerable, or you might feel as if catastrophe is just around the corner.
Positive Characteristics: Safety, Relaxation, Calm, Sufficiency
Painful Emotional States: Anxiety, Fear, Worry
Archetypes that Balance: The Innocent, The Pleasure Seeker, The Empire Builder
As a Saver, self-sufficiency is a high priority for you, which is admirable. You seek security and sufficiency by accumulation or protecting financial assets. However, you can also be frugal, hoarding, or even obsessive about money. The risk is that you unconsciously believe money can truly provide some kind of ultimate security – and you may then restrict yourself from spending money to enjoy life.
Positive Characteristics: Self-Sufficiency, Security, Optionality
Painful Emotional States: Fear, Depletion, Over-Analyzing, Living in the Future
Archetypes that Balance: The Pleasure Seeker, The Idealist, The Caretaker
As an Idealist, you likely intend to help solve one (or more) of society’s big problems – and you aspire to direct your resources and energy toward those causes. Social and environmental transformation isn’t too tall an order, and you likely believe that large-scale systems change is the only way forward. On bad days, you experience mistrust, skepticism, or disillusionment; on good days, you’re able to express vision and great efficacy through the use of your resources.
Positive Characteristics: Social/Environmental Transformation, Equality, Impact
Painful Emotional States: Skepticism, Disillusionment, Anger
Archetypes that Balance: The Innocent, The Empire Builder, The Star
As a Star, you lead by example, perhaps by heading a movement or company, being an early adopter or investor, or having an above-average relationship to social media (or other outlets). You may be motivated by the part of you that wants to be loved and accepted, a natural human need. Or you may be entirely comfortable with yourself, but want to influence others to move in a certain direction.
Positive Characteristics: Importance, Community, Interconnectedness
Painful Emotional States: Sensitive to Criticism, Feelings of Irrelevance or Phoniness
Archetypes that Balance: The Innocent, The Caretaker, The Idealist
Benefits of Knowing Your Financial Archetype
Knowing your financial archetype can shape your relationship and intentions with money. It can turn perceived negative money habits into positive ones, and it can even push positive habits into transformative financial action.
If, for example, you discover you are The Saver, you probably (and strongly) relate to wanting security and self-sufficiency. What you may not realize is that the painful emotional states of being The Saver involve fear, depletion, and over-analyzing a situation.
In other words, by having the vocabulary to clearly articulate what you feel, you can choose to become proficient in accessing those feelings in moments of stress or decision making. Having access to this clarity becomes its own personal toolbox to maintain a healthy inner financial life.
The Road Ahead
Knowing your financial archetype can bring you the clarity and confidence of understanding yourself in a more authentic way. This helps shape your values to support the many financial decisions you will be compelled to make over your lifetime.
At Abacus, we use your financial archetype as a foundation to help you build a financial plan that achieves your best hopes for your future. Schedule a free call today to find out more how Abacus can help you expand what is possible with money.