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What is Your Money DNA? and Why You Should Care

Many of us are in an abusive relationship with our money. It controls us and makes us miserable. It rules our emotions and forces us into irrational and stupid decisions. To be financially free, we need to rebel against this relationship. Instead of working for money, we need to make money work for us. The master needs to become the servant.

The first step in this rebellion is to understand our money DNA. In this blog, we will look at FIVE dominant money profiles, their associated risks, the probability of attaining financial freedom, and some words of guidance.

1) Olympic Saver

If saving money was an Olympic sport, you would be a medal contender. Not only does saving make you feel secure, but it makes you happy. You extract happiness from not spending. This austerity may be traced back to your childhood, where your parents inculcated frugality and conservatism from an early age.

You know you are an Olympic saver if:

  • You mostly spend on necessities

  • You only buy luxuries if deeply discounted

  • You always order the cheapest item on the restuarant menu.

  • You use tea bags more than once.

  • You filter on price from lowest to highest when shopping online.


Your extreme frugality is not done with a specific goal in mind. You are not saving for a vacation or a new pair of shoes. You don’t need to save. You have accumulated enough cash to go out and buy these things instantly. The underlying driver for your austerity is the feeling of comfort and security. This aimlessness means that it delivers no marginal increase to your overall happiness, fulfillment, and sense of security – the three major drivers for the behaviour.

Probability of Attaining Financial Freedom:

Relatively low, not because you will not have enough money, but because your unwillingness to spend means that you are too afraid to enjoy the options that this money provides. If you have been saving hard and investing wisely for 30 years, you have amassed an attractive net worth. The anxiety that you may outlive your money will, however, intensify your austerity as you get older. You, therefore, run the risk of being the richest person in the cemetery.


You need to find a rational balance in your life. The problem is that this severe mental block on spending money will not be removed by logic alone. The goal is to loosen the purse strings and enjoy your money.

2) Obsessive Spender

You are on the other extreme of the spending/saving spectrum. The moment money lands in your pocket (or your bank account), you need to spend it. You buy the stuff you don't need – like the tenth pair of jeans, or a wacky waving inflatable tube guy ( Google search: “weirdest stuff you can buy online”).

Here are three scenarios that would reveal your OCD spending habits:

  • You win the national lottery. To celebrate, you go hog-wild and spend it on gifts, travel, and new cars and houses for the whole family.

  • It is payday. You have paid the rent, the car, and insurance. All you need to pay is your credit card bill. You pay the minimum balance of your credit card and blow the rest on eating out clothes and entertainment.

  • Your friends invite you to a hip new expensive nightclub that charges 20 USD bucks for a Coca-Cola. You go – after all, it is the hippest joint in town.

These high-roller antics are a reflection of your outgoing, gregarious, and “devil-may-care” attitude. This compulsive spending is often a symptom of something more deeply rooted. It could be insecurity that you will only be accepted if you act out on these lavish antics.


The biggest risk is that this over-the-top consumerism does not treat the underlying psychological issue it is seeking to cure. The practical risk is that you fall prey to the marketing of credit card companies and soon accumulate mountains of debt – which brings with it its own phalanx of stresses and anxiety.

Probability of Attaining Financial Freedom:

Extremely low to zero unless you make radical changes. Any surplus income or windfall must be used to pay down debt. Once you are debt-free, you need to start investing. This is a hard sell. Investing is a long-term game - it does not present instant gratification. Spenders are looking for that adrenaline rush. Their brains are not hardwired to appreciate the long-term benefits of delayed satisfaction and financial discipline. So it is difficult to turn this money profile around.


If you are in debt, the first step is to get out of it. You need to freeze all your debts (i.e. cut up your credit cards, calculate how much you owe, and how much you need to pay every month to get that debt down to zero in a reasonable period).

The next step is a balanced budget: Total Monthly Earning = Total Monthly Spending + Debt Payment.

You need to cut your spending down to the bone. Until your debt is paid down to zero, you need to become an Olympic saver. This is an extreme measure, and it is understood that there will be moments of weakness when you will backslide into your old spending patterns. The objective is to keep your eye on the prize. When your debt is paid down, the money you previously allocated to the debt payment needs to be invested.

3) Passionate Moneymaker

You are exceptionally competitive and money is the scorecard of your success. You attach your happiness to your net worth. You feel the more money you make, the happier you will be. You thrive off the approval and recognition that is associated with financial success.

You know if you are a passionate moneymaker if

  • You love and embrace risk – this is embodied in a series of entrepreneurial ventures or the serial investment in high-risk enterprises such as private equity, venture capital, and small-capitalization public equities.

  • You are a new adopter of pioneer capital assets such as digital currencies (such as Bitcoin)

  • Risk is a game to you. You are addicted to the adrenalin of the potential of high returns.


This obsession with money-making activities can affect other parts of your life – such as personal relationships. Your dedication to your career and financial outlook can also take a toll on your health as you work 80 hour weeks and expose yourself to high degrees of stress and strain.

Probability of Attaining Financial Freedom:

Relatively high, but there is a risk that you never have "enough" money. You burn yourself out before you have time to enjoy the freedom that comes from being financially independent. At the heart of financial freedom is the ability to change your relationship with money. This passionate moneymaker runs the risk of never being able to flip this relationship.


You need to find that higher purpose. It could be to provide for your family or give back to your community or your country. It could be to free up your time to pursue what you find meaningful. In addition, you want to surround yourself with people that share your values. If money is your why, it will become an endless source of anxiety. You will never have enough.

4) Ambivalent-to-Money

The first three profiles are of people that are OCD. The fourth profile is the exact opposite – you are indifferent to money. Money does not factor in the five most important things in your life. You know more or less how much you earn, but you are oblivious to how much you spend, and what you spend. You have no money discipline and no interest in developing this discipline. Money may have been big deal when you were growing up, and you have made it your adult life’s mission to ascribe to it as little importance as humanly possible.


Your biggest risk is you don’t plan ahead for your later years. You live paycheck to paycheck. There is no discipline of investing for the future when your value in the financial workforce declines. You could potentially become a financial burden on your children later in life. The flipside to this lack of financial anxiety is your belief that you only need a modest amount of money to be happy, which is a healthy one.

Probability of Attaining Financial Freedom:

Medium because you don’t need that much money in the first place. Money indifference is therefore a two-edged sword. Some people get through life ok without focusing on their finances. Money is not their why, they focus on other things and money mysteriously falls into place. The other outcome looks less bohemian - you have to move in with your kids and that never looks pretty,


You will never sit down and draw up a budget – it is not in your financial DNA. you need to commit to doing just one thing: invest a dedicated portion of your income into a well-diversified ETF. To reduce the amount of energy expended, get your bank to run a monthly debit order off your account into a predetermined ETF so you can start building some patrimony.

5) Worrier

Your money trait is summarized in one word – anxiety. You have a complete lack of confidence in your ability to manage money and always obsess over the worst-case scenario. You are the Woody Allen of money! You must turn this anxiety into something productive.

Risks and Opportunities:

The biggest risk is that you spend all your time obsessing over Armageddon. On the positive side, this “what if?” mentality is an important ingredient in risk management. Risk is an interesting animal. You can take her out, buy her flowers and even marry her. The only thing you cannot do is eliminate her. Risk, like Keith Richards' liver, cannot be eliminated. It can only be transferred and managed. Good risk managers are healthy worriers. You must use this paranoia and anxiety to become a good risk manager – but you need to take a risk, because with no risk there can be no return.

Probability of Attaining Financial Freedom:

Medium, but you need to find a way to monetize your anxiety. You need to dig deep and be honest about what pisses you off, what frustrates you, what causes anxiety. Then invest directly in those businesses that are working to alleviate these maladies. Facebook was founded on the need for companionship and social connection – the fact that it has morphed into something exponentially larger is beside the point. Uber, Lyft, Didi, and Bolt come out of the frustration of finding a safe, clean, and reliable taxi at 3 am after a bender with your mates. Tinder is deeply embedded in our fear of loneliness and the inherent sadness of trying to meet single people in the produce section of your local grocery store. Airbnb was borne out of the desire people have for new and unique experiences that avoided having to check-in at the lobby, the inconvenience of being accosted by a handful of bellboys trying to grab your luggage (which may or may not be filled with your fetish gear) and being ripped off for a bag of peanuts from the minibar. You get the idea.


Many great businesses were set up to address basic human needs and inadequacies. All human beings are neurotic. We all experience feelings such as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depression, and loneliness. You want to find ways in which you can monetize solutions to these modern maladies. The bigger and more original the problem they are trying to fix, the more successful they are going to be.

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