TIME Personal Finance

This Quiz Showed Me Just How Cheap I Really Am

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Maybe saving money at every turn isn't the right approach. Smart spending on your happiness and relationships provide much needed balance.

I’ve always known that I am cautious with money. I just didn’t know how cautious—possibly to a fault—until I spent a few minutes with a new online assessment tool Your Money Mind.

The tool centers on a seven-question quiz, and the goal is to determine what motivates your spending decisions. The answers fall into three categories: fear of making mistakes and hurting your long-term financial health; happiness derived from spending on things you want; and commitment demonstrated by spending in ways that enhance your relationships.

Ideally, you want some balance among the three. In taking the quiz a half-dozen times, however, I found a consistent and decided skew toward the fear factor. My primary goal, the quiz showed me, is to seek safety and security. Happiness clocked in second; commitment a distant third. Here are three typical questions that pulled back the curtain on my extreme frugality:

  • Your best friend is planning a wedding all the way in the Caribbean. Do you feel: excited about the adventure, frustrated because of the cost, or mixed but willing to go anywhere to support your friend? C’mon, man. Just stay in town.
  • You’re asked to buy a raffle ticket. Do you say: sure it’s for a good cause, no thanks I never win, or yes I am due for a big score? Sorry, I don’t play lotto either.
  • Your spouse wants to take up golf. Do you buy: a set of used clubs because this will never last, a new set of clubs for the both of you, or a new set plus private lessons just for your spouse? Honey, I love you. But there’s a brand new archery set collecting dust in the garage.

I don’t think of myself as cheap, or uncaring. But this game clearly does. Not that I’m taking it too seriously. A one-size-fits-all quiz is far from perfect. According to the assessment, I am “slow to make decisions and as result may miss opportunities.” Nonsense. I decided right away that the Caribbean wedding was a frustrating expense—but that, yes, I must go. And when it comes to really big expenses like buying a house there is no such thing as too slow. When you are ready, you are ready. If someone swoops in, so be it. Other houses will be there.

Still, I expect that this assessment of my money mind will alter my approach to financial decisions in some ways. It turns out that saving money isn’t the only thing that matters. Maybe I make too many personal sacrifices in the name of security. Maybe I over emphasize delayed gratification. Maybe I should, well, live a little. That’s what the quiz designers at United Capital Private Wealth Counseling concluded. They seem to be nudging me towards that African safari we’ve long dreamed about. But you know, I believe I’ll just think about that a while longer.

 

 

 

 

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