Author Q&A: How your mindset affects your spending

From Alberta's West Edmonton Mall to Ontario's Eaton Centre, Canadians stormed shopping centres this Boxing Day in search of bargains. But while December 26 marked one of the busiest shopping days this year, discount pricing isn't the only thing prompting Canadians to spend their hard-earned money.


According to Stephanie Holmes-Winton's latest book, "$pent," key personality traits affect your purchasing and saving behaviour -- habits that can greatly impact your credit card statement.

Read on to discover why Holmes-Winton, owner of the Nova Scotia-based financial planning consultancy The Money Finder, decided to write "$pent" and why she thinks Canadians need to keep their mind on their money. Why did you write "$pent" and what were you hoping to accomplish?
Stephanie Holmes-Winton:
I was hoping to show people that we have to take behaviour into account when it comes to money. Too often, professional advice provided to people about debt and spending misses the mark. The common themes are usually 'math' or 'shame.' Pick an article, any article, about money and you can almost feel the finger wagging right through the page. We seem to think that people should be more reasonable when it comes to money, but it is my belief that our 'money mindset' -- the filter through which we look at our finances, causes us make decisions in certain ways. So I wanted to create a book that didn't judge the reader but helped them figure out what their money mindset was. How does personality affect your financial situation?
Your personality or temperament predisposes you to make financial decisions in a certain way. I believe there are seven primary money mindsets: The Brick Wall, the Bunker, the Justifier, the Dreamer, the Masquerader, the Under Cover Agent, and the Pollyanna. For example, the Brick Wall has always been the most dominant mindset. Brick Walls are more controlled with their financial decisions, they do more research. The Bunker, on the other hand, is the mindset that most craves safety, fears all risk and is very likely to feel much better when they have significant savings. How can an individual's personality hurt his or her finances?
If we look for a common place in our timeline, from birth to today, there is not a place where the average person is provided with 'common sense' money smarts. As a result, many of us rely on our instinct, which is a part of our money mindset, to make financial decisions, which if we look at the economy, we can see isn't working so well. Our financial personality, often in an effort to protect us, can lead us astray when it comes to how we behave with our money. How can one's personality benefit finances?
When you know your money mindset, you can use it to your advantage. For example, the Brick Wall is a great researcher but can sometimes use that trait to procrastinate and lose out on great financial opportunities. However, if you're aware of this risk, you can give yourself time parameters around your research so that you don't miss the boat. Similarly, the Bunker can stop and realize that fear may be steering their decisions so that they can look at additional details of a specific scenario before running for perceived safety. How can you change your personality to improve your financial situation?
You can't. The whole point of "$pent" is that trying to change who you are, rather than working with your natural tendencies, is unlikely to work. However, changing the way you manage your spending by considering your money mindset means you can still be you, but you can set yourself up for natural financial success by working with your benefits and managing your flaws.

See related: Credit card debt: A comedy; Canada's best money savvy mommy bloggers

Updated January 10, 2012

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