If you’ve ever asked for a cheap, safe and easy method of managing your finances, I’m sure someone suggested you just make a spreadsheet.
While it is safe and cheap, three out of four of you won’t be able to maintain it.
I’m not saying that in any negative way – in fact, it’s nothing that you have control over.
Your personality type makes it extremely difficult for you to maintain a spreadsheet.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other methods of money management that are safe, cheap and easy!
Do you know the most natural way to handle your finances?
When the word personality comes up, most people think of Meyers-Briggs or the Enneagram. While those systems have their advantages, the one I’m talking about today is entirely different. When it comes to organization of anything – your office, your finances, your kitchen shelves – what matters is your Productivity Personality.
Are you a Fantastical, an Environmental, a Structural or an Analytical?
If you’re a Fantastical, you’re a problem solver. You love to sit down with a knotty problem and wrestle with it until you’ve come up with a completely unique solution that manages to solve everything perfectly. That could be several hours later, and when you finish you realize that you’ve forgotten to eat, walk the dog, or pick up your fiancée at the airport.
You need to keep your work in front of you – if it’s not in your line of vision, it may as well not exist.
For financial purposes, the best option for a Fantastical is the envelope method.
You need to keep your budget in front of you, so work out your spending limits for each week and label an envelope with each one. Then withdraw that amount in cash at the start of the week and put the amounts in the corresponding envelopes. When you need to pay for something, grab cash from the envelope. No cash, no purchase!
If you’re an Environmental, you’re a people person. Your focus is on the people around you and on your loved ones – are they comfortable, happy, and feeling welcome? Friends and co-workers depend on you to provide a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on, and you’re always the one who comes up with the perfect gift for every person.
When it comes to finances, simple is the key word.
You’re constantly needed by someone or other, so we can’t expect you to spend time on a complex system. Mint is an excellent tool for Environmentals – it will automatically upload your financial statements from your bank, sort your purchases into categories and display the info in a colorful report that will let you assess your budget in seconds.
If you’re a Structural, you’re a natural organizer. People with your personality type are the ones writing all those self-help books that the rest of us are drowning in. You’re at ease with routine and tradition, and you create and maintain systems with effortless precision. You’re the person others come to with questions about details, and you either know them offhand or you know exactly where to look.
For financial purposes, Structurals do extremely well with the spreadsheet method.
You can have unlimited columns or rows for whatever categories your budget has, and the equations allow you to add and subtract without the worry of a potential math error. Download your financial statements in a CSV file and import them into your sheet regularly, and you’ll be able to maintain complete control of your finances with the freedom to customize your system to suit.
Our final type is the Analytical, and this type is perhaps the hardest to customize for. Analyticals are goal driven, ambitious, and big picture thinkers. If you’re an Analytical, you’re destined for a position of power where you’ll make an impact on the world around you. You interpret numbers much more readily than words, and you can immediately connect the present moment with the overall environment and understand the impact this moment may have on the future.
Analyticals have little patience for repetitive tasks like filing or money management.
The ideal solution for an Analytical is to hire an accountant, but that doesn’t fill the ‘cheap’ requirement. If you do go this route, make sure that you don’t hand over responsibility entirely – a monthly or bimonthly meeting to keep on top of the current state is definitely a requirement!
An alternate option is to find a friend, family member or CPA willing to trade financial management for one of your skills, thus relieving you of the task.
Mint.com can work well for Analyticals, but they tend to dislike the interface. Your bank may have a more appealing money management option available to customers, one without the excess colors and whimsy that make Mint.com ideal for Environmentals.
If you’ve struggled with money management in the past, figure out what your type is and try implementing the suggestion for your type. I think you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to maintain your budget and keep your finances from taking over your life.