Why you do what you do with your money is a very tricky question. But new research shows that the way you behave with your money is most often driven by your emotions rather than rational thinking. Jean Chatzky, financial editor for “Today” and editor-at-large at Money magazine, was invited on the “Today” show to help you figure out how you handle your money with this financial quiz.
1. I am most likely to spend my spare time...
a. Mastering a skillb. Helping people in needc. Organizing and planning aheadd. Figuring out how things work
2. When it comes to my financial affairs, I tend to be...
a. Practical and opportunisticb. Compassionate and empathicc. Dutiful and diligentd. Efficient and pragmatic
3. When evaluating a certain investment, I most trust...
a. My gutb. My friendsc. Bottom-line factsd. Logic
4. When I retire, I intend to seek out more...
a. Adventuresb. Self-developmentc. Time with familyd. Knowledge
5. I am most likely to spend a tax refund on...
a. My favorite hobbyb. Helping my friendsc. Strengthening my financial securityd. Buying a tech gadget
6. I appreciate it when others...
a. Surprise me with generosityb. Recognize my true selfc. Express their gratituded. Ask me what I think
7. I feel compassion for the needy.
a. Somewhat disagreeb. Strongly agreec. Somewhat agreed. Strongly disagree
8. Becoming rich is a common goal. Not becoming poor is another. How do you weigh the relative importance of these goals?
a. 40% becoming rich/60% not becoming poor b. 20% becoming rich/80% not becoming poorc. 60% becoming rich/40% not becoming poord. 80% becoming rich/20% not becoming poor
What Type Are You?
Add up your answers.
If you mostly answered A, you're an Artisan. That means you are freewheeling and daring. If B, you're an Idealist. You care less about money than other goals. If C, you're a Guardian and you tend to be cautious with your money. And if D, you're a Rational. You make most decisions by the numbers.
What does that tell you about yourself? And what mistakes are you most likely to make?
ArtisansTraits: You trust your gut where matters of money are concerned. You enjoy the thrill of investing, act quickly on buying opportunities and are comfortable taking risks.
Most common mistake: You either don't plan for the long term or lack the discipline necessary to meet the goals you set.
How to fix it: Go ahead and build a portfolio heavy in stocks, but confirm your gut feelings with research and diversify adequately — just in case you're wrong. And, because you're not big in self-discipline, guard against your desire to follow every impulse. Make yourself take not one, but two or three deep breaths before you jump.
Traits: You focus on helping others and improving society rather than on getting rich.
Most common mistake: Ignoring your money. The fact that you're not interested in your finances means you probably fail to reach your financial goals. Why? You don't set any. You also often forget to pay bills.
How to fix it: Sign up for automatic bill payment and online banking. And put your investing on autopilot. Elect to have a certain percentage of your money plunked into a 401(k) and discretionary investment account every month. That will automatically boost your savings. The bonus: By not obsessing over your portfolio, you're less likely to follow the crowd in and out of the market at the wrong time.
Traits: Disciplined and patient, enjoy organizing and planning ahead. Most common mistake: Being too cautious. You tend to investigate investments thoroughly — sometimes too thoroughly — before committing. Caution is likely to rule your portfolio. You often prefer fixed-income investments to relatively volatile equities. But having a decent chunk of equities in your portfolio is important if you want to keep pace with the markets today.
How to fix it: Use an asset allocation tool to figure out the right investment mix for you. Or follow the rule of 100. 100 minus your age is the amount (approximately) you should have in stocks.
Traits: You enjoy problem solving and fact finding and have a deep interest in science and the technology.
Most common mistake: You're overconfident in your ability to outthink the market. In the late '90s, people like you were certain that tech stocks would continue to climb, and lost badly when the bubble burst.
How to fix it: Try investing in, and sticking with, index funds rather than your own picks. If you want to take a big risk, take it with a small amount — 5 percent or so — of your money. That way even if you do lose, you won't get trounced.
The financial quiz was developed by Meir Statman, a behavioral finance expert at Santa Clara University, and Vincent Wood, president of AdvisorTeam.com, a behavioral research and testing firm in San Francisco.
Jean Chatzky is the financial editor for “Today,” editor-at-large at Money magazine and the author of “Talking Money: Everything You Need to Know About Your Finances and Your Future.” Her latest book, "Pay It Down: From Debt to Wealth on $10 a Day," is now in bookstores. Copyright © 2005. For more information, go to her Web site, www.JeanChatzky.com.