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There are few of us who can resist a good personality test, whether it’s a silly one that pinpoints your spirit animal or a serious one that helps you find your true calling. That’s because getting more insight into ourselves is, at the very least, fun, and at best, seriously eye-opening.
Perhaps the most well-known of the eye-opening variety is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a self-reported questionnaire that assesses your personality based on your innate preferences toward extroversion or introversion; sensing or intuition; thinking or feeling; and judging or perceiving. Those preferences then form a four-letter sequence, like ENTJ or ISFP, which serves as your Myers-Briggs personality type.
You may have come across the MBTI in a work setting; companies sometimes use it to help employees identify what makes them tick and how they can use their strengths on the job. But it can be illuminating for a lot of other areas of your life, too—including how you manage your money.
Curious how each letter of your Myers-Briggs type could affect your finances? We broke down the four key dichotomies and asked psych and money pros to explain their influence on your money-management style—including what you should watch out for that could hinder your progress.
Extroversion vs. Introversion
The E-I preference pair deals with the way people source their energy. “People who prefer extroversion tend to get their energy from this world of action and people and things,” says Michael Segovia, lead MBTI certification trainer for CPP, publisher of the MBTI assessment. “People who prefer Introversion like the opportunity to reflect and sit back and ponder in their own space.”
The Effect on Your Money: True to their sociable stereotype, extroverts tend to lean on others when making big decisions. “People who prefer extroversion don’t know what they’re thinking until they hear themselves say it,” Segovia says. “That’s why they bounce ideas off of other people the way they do.”
Extroverts may also be prone to overspending on social activities like annual getaways with friends or work happy hours. They could benefit from spending more time reflecting on how they manage their money, such as writing down how certain purchases made them feel. “You might say, ‘This was a waste,’ or ‘I was feeling deprived when I bought this, and now I regret it,’” says Olivia Mellan, a psychotherapist specializing in money-conflict resolution and co-author of “Money Harmony: A Road Map for Individuals and Couples.” That insight could help them become more mindful the next time they reach for their wallets.
By contrast, introverts may spend too much time alone pondering a big money decision, arming themselves with loads of information but not seeking potentially useful outside input. “They might need to bounce ideas off a few close friends to make sure that they’re taking more into account than just their own point of view,” Segovia says. With that in mind, Mellan suggests introverts could benefit from seeking trusted advice from someone like a financial planner or a friend or family member whom they’ve always looked up to for their money smarts.
Sensing vs. Intuition
The two middle letters that make up your MBTI personality type shed light on (1) how you absorb information and (2) how you make decisions or come to conclusions. “The middle two letters really represent the driving forces, the motivators, of our preferences,” Segovia says.
First up, the information-gathering dichotomy. Sensing “is about taking in information in a very specific, step-by-step, sequential way,” Segovia says. People who show a preference for Intuition, on the other hand, gravitate toward receiving big-picture information. “They want the general idea so they can then intuit what it all means,” he adds.
The Effect on Your Money: Sensing can take on a different nuance if it’s preceded by an E or an I. People who prefer sensing in an introverted way treat their minds like a file cabinet and are able to pull up information whenever it’s needed, Segovia says. The con to that is they might end up so hyper-focused on their own “data” that they don’t take alternate ideas into consideration. So someone who leans toward being an I and an S should consider being open to different methods of managing their money, particularly if they don’t feel they are making progress on goals.
Meanwhile, those with both extroversion and sensing preferences “can be so present-focused they might not consider what’s coming around the corner,” Segovia says. When it comes to money, this can translate to homing in too much on the right here, right now—so it’s important that those who are an E and an S remind themselves how their present decisions could affect long-term goals.
Meanwhile, people who lean toward intuition (represented by the letter N) likely do have their sights set on future goals—but don’t necessarily know how they’ll get there. “They’re dreamers, they’re not planners,” Mellan says. She believes writing down short-term, mid-term and long-term goals could help these folks embrace their planning side. “And then they have to do something now that will [put them in] planning mode for reaching their goals,” she adds. Before they know it, they may just have a step-by-step plan to making progress.
Thinking vs. Feeling
Now moving on to how you evaluate the information you take in: “Thinking is about making decisions considering the task at hand, so you can make a logical, objective decision,” Segovia says. These folks might, for instance, make a pros-and-cons list. Those with a feeling approach, however, give weight to how their choices will affect those close to them.
The Effect on Your Money: Someone who shows a preference for thinking is rational in all areas of their life—finances included.
Though that certainly can be a positive thing, thinking types might overanalyze financial decisions big and small—and could end up putting some personal financial goals on the back burner as a result. In this instance, putting pen to paper once again could help. “Write down your dreams and what you want to do but haven’t let yourself do,” Mellan suggests. Then, look at your finances and see how you might actually be able to help make it happen; in this instance, “doing something more in the feeling mode might feel more liberating,” she says.
On the flip side, people with a preference for feeling may let their emotions override logic in the decision-making process. Plus, they may try to please others with their financial moves even though it’s their own money they’re managing, Segovia says.
In these cases, it’s important that feelers challenge themselves by seeking out the logical opinions of others—particularly for those who show both introversion and feeling preferences, Segovia says. Those who lean toward extroversion and feeling may need to dig deep and understand whether their money decisions are prioritizing their needs and financial futures above those of others.
Judging vs. Perceiving
Finally, the J-P preference pair captures the way you organize your world. “People who prefer judging like closure,” Segovia says. “They like to make decisions. They like to check things off.” It’s easy to spot this type of person: “If they complete something that’s not on their checklist, they’ll add it in with a check mark [in order to get that] sense of satisfaction,” he adds. A person who prefers perceiving doesn’t rush into decisions the way a judging person might; they like to keep their options open and prefer things spontaneous and open-ended.
The Effect on Your Money: Those who fall under judging could be a bit too hasty when it comes to making money moves because they just want to experience the “joy of closure,” says Segovia. “One of the blind spots is they might decide too soon before they have all the information they need to make that [financial] decision.” In this instance, getting a second opinion or waiting a few extra days to see what new information pops up can help those with judging tendencies stay open to new—and possibly better—options.
Perceiving people, meanwhile, would benefit from more boundaries because their desire for casualness and flexibility means they tend to drag their feet. “The preference to keep your options open may mean you wait too long to make those important financial decisions,” Segovia says. For these folks, he suggests setting reasonable goals and hard dates they can stick to. For instance, committing to save an extra $100 in a retirement account by November 1 could finally help someone with a perceiving tendency boost their nest egg.
Here’s one more tip for those who think they lean toward perceiving: If the word “budget” makes you feel too confined, then don’t call it that. Maybe it’s more of a “spending, saving and investing plan,” suggests Mellan. “[That] might be the way to go so it doesn’t feel so ‘straight-jacket-y.’ ”
Ultimately, the real benefit to knowing more about your personality is understanding what your strengths are and how you can counterbalance your weaknesses by pushing yourself to consider a side you don’t naturally lean toward. Mellan calls this “practicing the non-habitual.”
“That means developing muscles you never had before, behaviorally and emotionally,” she says. “I think having more flexibility and being less stuck in chronic patterns is always a good thing.”