Crack open any finance textbook and you’ll find theories based on a common assumption: that the investor is making decisions based on rational logic. Ha! Out in the real world, when theory is put to practice, we quickly learn the truth – No investor or advisor is completely rational. We’re only human after all.
We all carry biases, learned behaviors, and emotional responses that influence our financial choices. This reality is the cornerstone of behavioral finance – a growing field that delves into the psychology of money. Read on to figure out your own money mindset and learn how our financial planners are using these behavioral tendencies to help investors like you make better decisions.
The ABCs of Behavioral Finance
The study of how much a market incorporates information into its pricing. This idea is often cited in theories about how the market behaves and the number of opportunities present.
In the realm of behavioral finance, utility is the measure of satisfaction or pleasure derived from consuming goods or making financial decisions. It highlights how our decisions are often driven by seeking the maximum utility or happiness from our choices.
This concept reflects our tendency to avoid taking risks when making financial decisions. Even when the potential reward outweighs the potential loss, the fear of loss often leads us to make more conservative choices.
Behavioral Finance: A Custom Approach
In an industry that traditionally advocates black and white, wrong vs. right, and textbook strategies that must be followed to a ‘t’, behavioral finance is a new approach to investment planning that more accurately accounts for the reality in between. Painting a better, more custom picture of each individual’s complex relationship with money.
At TradeWinds, we embrace behavioral finance as a way to provide you with tailored strategies that align with your unique mindset and financial goals. It’s about having a conversation, not just delivering instructions. We want to explore your relationship with your financial resources, know why you made decisions in the past, and discuss how this will affect your relationship with money in the future.
Some of us are big spenders, others are penny pinchers. Sometimes, these two types live in the same household, making it hard to align on future plans. Together, we can get these mindsets to meet in the middle successfully. And live happily ever after.
The Rationality Myth
Traditionally, financial theories have touted the concept of efficient markets and rational investors. However, these assumptions often fall short in capturing the intricate dance between human behavior and financial decision-making. In truth, irrational behavior is deeply ingrained in us, shaping the way we perceive risks, rewards and our financial goals.
Want proof? Take the Coin Flip Test:
Pretend we’re about to flip a shiny quarter and you’re betting on the outcome:
Bet #1: If the coin lands heads-up, you win $100. If it’s tails, you lose $50.
Bet #2: If the coin flip is heads, you get $50. If it’s tails, you lose NOTHING.
Which bet would you choose?
We bet you picked #2 – just about everyone does. Rationally, both scenarios are equal in terms of risk and reward. Yet Bet 2 is the surefire choice, NO risk with the potential for gain. The fear of losing is such a strong emotion in humans, we would rather protect our downside at risk of sacrificing an equally likely upside. The despair of loss hurts more than the pleasure of gain.
Meet the Money Scripts
Money scripts are beliefs that shape your relationship with money and often stem from your childhood experiences. Here are four distinct money scripts many people fall into:
Amy the Money Avoider
Amy values creativity over money, occasionally overspending or paying her credit cards late. She doesn’t associate wealth with happiness and avoids chasing money. She’s a free spirit who places a low importance on financial matters.
Wally the Money Worshipper
Wally’s priorities revolve around making money and material wealth. He’s generous but struggles with defining “enough.” Comparing himself to others keeps money at the center of his life.
Sarah the Money Status Seeker
Sarah equates her self-worth with her net worth. She seeks status, spends lavishly, and occasionally relies on others to bail her out. Her identity is intertwined with her financial achievements.
Vincent the Money Vigilant
Vincent is prudent with his money, often sacrificing experiences for savings. He’s frugal to the point of being teased by friends, but he still worries about his financial decisions.
Step one to working with your money mindset is identifying it. Take our interactive quiz now to see where your psyche fits on the money habit spectrum.
Money Mindset Quiz: Discover Your Relationship with Money
Question 1: When it comes to spending, I tend to…
A) Spend money without thinking about it, enjoying life’s experiences.
B) Always look for ways to save and invest, focusing on building wealth.
C) Love to show off my latest purchases and enjoy the finer things in life.
D) Prioritize saving and rarely splurge, valuing financial security.
Question 2: How do you feel about the idea of being wealthy?
A) Money isn’t my main focus; I prefer a simple and creative life.
B) I constantly strive to amass more wealth and assets.
C) Wealth represents success and happiness to me.
D) Financial security and stability are more important to me than displaying wealth.
Question 3: When you receive a monetary gift, what do you usually do?
A) I enjoy spending it on things that bring me joy.
B) I invest it or put it into savings for the future.
C) I treat myself to something extravagant.
D) I carefully save it, thinking about its long-term value.
Question 4: How do you define “enough” when it comes to money?
A) Having enough to support my preferred lifestyle is sufficient for me.
B) There’s always room for more; I’m constantly seeking growth.
C) “Enough” means having the best of everything and maintaining a certain image.
D) I strive to have enough to secure my future and avoid financial stress.
Question 5: What’s your approach to taking financial risks?
A) I’m open to taking calculated risks for opportunities that resonate with me.
B) I’m willing to take significant risks to achieve high returns.
C) I’m cautious about taking risks that might affect my image or lifestyle.
D) I prefer minimizing risks to ensure my financial stability.
Quiz Results: Discover Your Money Mindset
If you answered mostly A’s, your money mindset aligns with Amy’s Money Avoidance: You value experiences over material wealth and prioritize a creative and simple lifestyle.
If you answered mostly B’s, your money mindset aligns with Wally’s Money Worship: You focus on growing your wealth, often seeking opportunities to invest and increase your assets.
If you answered mostly C’s, your money mindset aligns with Sarah’s Money Status: You associate financial success with personal worth and enjoy showcasing your achievements through your lifestyle.
If you answered mostly D’s, your money mindset aligns with Vincent’s Money Vigilance: You prioritize financial security, tend to save diligently, and are cautious about taking risks.
Remember, these money scripts are not fixed categories but rather points on a spectrum. Your responses provide insight into your dominant tendencies. Exploring your money mindset allows you to understand your relationship with money better, enabling your TradeWinds advisor to help you make financial decisions that align with your values and goals.
Go here to read about the psychology of wealth, straight from the “godfather of behavioral finance”
Click here to get in touch with our advisors and learn how to make your money mindset work for you
Check out past Money Courage topics on our website
We’re not here to impose a one-size-fits-all strategy. Our team recognizes that your relationship with money is deeply personal, influenced by your unique beliefs and experiences. We’re committed to helping you navigate this intricate landscape, guiding you through the nuances of your financial behavior and co-creating a plan that reflects the unique human being you are.
Onwards with Optimism, The TradeWinds team