As we continue to review the financial archetypes from Brent Kessel’s book It’s Not About the Money, I’m moving on to the Saver, an archetype I’m all too familiar with.
Similar to Guardians, Savers keep a close watch on their money and find that they stress about financial ruin more than the average American. Savers were typically raised in frugal households where they were taught never to spend more than they earn and that they should save as much of their income as possible to guard against inevitable economic downturns.
This archetype reminds me of our cat Groucho, who has a great fear of scarcity and cries for more food whenever he catches the slightest glimpse of the bottom of his dish. There is always plenty of food left, but he won’t eat any more out of fear that someday it may all be gone. Similarly, Savers feel emotional pain when they spend money on all but their basic necessities and worry that someday they won’t have enough.
The thing is, the Saver mentality is revered in the financial planning field – any of my colleagues will tell you they’d rather have a Saver for a client than a Pleasure Seeker or even a Guardian. Savers derive pleasure from watching their account balances grow, not from enjoying what their money can bring them.
But Savers, despite their high savings account balances and debt-free balance sheets, are often plagued by the fear and anxiety of losing it all. Their emotional well-being is much more tied to their money than most of the other archetypes. So losing money in the stock market or making a large purchase is quite traumatic for Savers – it can be like facing death.
I’m a Saver? Can you save me?
Savers know exactly where their money is going. They can tell you how much they earn, spend on groceries and are saving for that rainy day. They typically save in excess of 20% of their income, sometimes depriving themselves and family members of things like vacations and new clothing beyond the basics.
Don’t get me wrong, it is important to save part of what you earn and live within your means. I’m a huge advocate of this style of living. But it is also important to allow your money to give you some of the things that make life worth living: pleasurable experiences and relationships. If you’re a Saver, it shouldn’t be painful to gift your child the expensive video game console that she has been dying to have since it came out this season. It should be fun and rewarding!
To loosen your fear of losing it all and living like a “bag lady,” engage the services of a financial coach or planner who can help you determine the amount of money you should have tucked away to maintain your standard of living. Chances are, you already have it.
Then try to relax a little about money and treat yourself to a nice meal with your sweetheart or upgrade your old car to a newer model with cruise control and heated seats, knowing that even if the Great Recession takes a double dip, you’ll still be able to live as you do today.