As much as I like games and tend to be pretty good at them, there’s one I suck at despite giving it my all:
The money-making game.
Put it this way:
If I had put as much practice, patience, and perseverance into pretty much any other game—beach volleyball, chess, Twister—I’d perform at a kick-ass level by now. But when it comes to making money, I’m still a bum.
So I’ve often wondered:
❓ Why does the money-making game seem to come so easily to some people? And why not me?
Well, thanks to my research on personality, I now have a theory.
Whether or not it’s true, maybe it’ll improve your strategies for making money—and spending and investing it.
Financial Personality Theory
If you’re a loyal Consider This reader with a decent memory, you may remember Edition #52, You Can’t Do Anything You Put Your Mind To.
The gist was this:
You have no control over your personality, so you’re best off working with it rather than fighting it.
The most scientifically-supported personality framework is that of the Big Five “CANOE” traits:
- Openness to experience
Of those, two seem pertinent to money games:
Extraversion and neuroticism.
According to scientist Daniel Nettle:
- Extraversion is your brain’s sensitivity to positive emotion.
- Neuroticism is your brain’s sensitivity to negative emotion.
I suspect that:
- Natural money-making ability = financial extraversion, your brain’s sensitivity to positive money flows.
- Natural money-spending inability = financial neuroticism, your brain’s sensitivity to negative money flows.
One piece of evidence backing this theory:
Extraverts tend to be worse at holding onto their money, i.e., low on the financial neuroticism spectrum.
Because they feel higher highs (though short-lived) from buying shoes they can’t afford or rounds of drinks for everyone at the bar.
In my case:
- I’m financially introverted. I’m highly insensitive to the pleasures of making money, so I pursue it with the lusty vigor of a eunuch.
- I’m financially neurotic. I’m super sensitive to unnecessary spending, so I tend toward unconventional engagement ring and bed purchase decisions.
If my theory holds, the upshot is this:
Like with any other personality trait, quit fighting your financial wiring and learn to live with it—even use it to your advantage.
For people like me who suck at the money-making game, that means to stop straining to become a money-magnet entrepreneur.
I may be better off working for a financial extravert (i.e., getting a job), as they may pay me more money than I can make on my own. But I tried that.
Be happy with less. Keep being a poor entrepreneur, but lean harder on my financial neuroticism to compensate. That way, I can continue to enjoy the freedom of doing what I love.
Or maybe there’s another way to leverage your financial wiring. I’m starting to suspect I can take advantage of other parts of my personality to identify and invest in super financial extraverts so they make my chump change go cha-ching.
For more on this, watch my latest video. It’s only 6m47s long and people rave about my dance moves in it:
- 😨 Feeling is for doing. (Financial) extroversion and neuroticism are examples of how your actions are motivated by emotion (study source). In what other ways might you improve decision-making by better understanding the source of emotions that drive your actions?
- 👎 What do you suck at? “The only way you can describe a human being truly is by describing his imperfections,” wrote storytelling legend Joseph Campbell. What imperfections can you hone in on to make your story a better one?
- 💰 Money’s just a middleman, so skip it? The average American would pay $242k for 1 extra year of good health and values seeing a good friend regularly at $100k a year.
- 🐜 Less ego, more savings? “One of the most powerful ways to increase your savings isn’t to raise your income. It’s to raise your humility.” – Morgan Housel
Until next time,
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