Finding Your Financial Love Language: The Psychology of Spending

by Jamie Simmerman · 4 comments

Knowing why you spend is as important as knowing what you spend when it comes to developing healthy financial habits. If you’ve ever heard of the Love Languages, you might be interested to know that people have assort of financial love language as well.

Each of the six financial love languages reflects the psychology behind your spending habits. Read about these six motivating factors to find out which category is top priority for you when faced with the temptation to spend. If you were given a sum of money that had to be spent, not saved, which type of activity would you choose as a preferred venue? Rate each of the six categories from most important to least important to you.

  1. _____Entertainment. Purchasing something fun
  2. _____Approval of others.  Buying a new item that someone you admire or emulate owns. (Keeping up with Joneses or maintaining a status or image through your purchases)
  3. _____Admiration of others. Choosing new brand name clothes or something eye-catching and unique to attract the admiration of others.
  4. _____Investing in relationships. Buying a gift for someone in your close sphere of influence, such as your spouse, best friend, or children.
  5. _____Social responsibility. Giving money to a charitable organization of helping others due to a need to meet an inner moral code.
  6. _____Achievement.  Invest in an education or items to advance your work skills or personal development.

Once you rate your financial priorities or love languages, you can then determine which items are worthy of a financial investment to you, and which may be classified as impulse buying or unwise purchase decisions based on your financial moral code.  Higher rated categories should receive more of your financial resources in order to maintain a healthy balance and a good attitude about spending.

Each of the categories has the potential to contain wise and unwise purchases, but the difference is in the psychology of spending. If you make purchases inline with your financial love language or financial moral code, you’ll be more satisfied with your spending habits and avoid guilt and shame associated with impulse spending in a category that does not hold much of a sense of enjoyment or reward for you personally.

Tips for Understanding Buying Habits

To better understand the why behind your spending habits, here are a few facts about spending:

  • Seeing a credit card logo such as Mastercard or Visa on a product’s packaging or website increases the chance of an impulse buy. (Chicago Tribune) If you notice the logo when deciding to make a purchase, be aware that its presence may have some influence on your decision.
  • In a study comparing cash spending to credit card spending, people valued credit card purchases as equal to $0.50 on the dollar when compared to paying for the same item with cash. People were willing to spend twice as much for the same item when paying with a debit or credit card.
  • Clenching your muscles when attempting to resist an unwise purchase helps you garner more willpower. (MIT)
  • Late-night spending often leads to poor financial choices. Most people have an easier time extending willpower to turn down purchases early in the day, but that source of willpower depletes as the day wears on. Shop in the morning, not at night.

So, what is your financial love language?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob January 26, 2012 at 10:26 pm

My love languages were #2 and #3. I loved the flash of my platinum card as I charged another luxury brand item I couldn’t afford to keep up with the Jones, and Lord knows who else probably couldn’t afford all their stuff too.

Once I had the wake up call to stop the out of control spending, it was amazing that frugality came quite naturally and I absolutely love it!

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Jean January 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

I would go with #1 and #4. I rarely buy fun things but when I do, I make sure I get my money’s worth or is something I’ve been meaning to buy for a long time. And you can never go wrong with investing in relationships either, be it dinner, a bauble, a trip or whatever. It is always a good thing to do for a close one.

-Jean

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Ollie December 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

My financial love language or financial moral code is prioritized as follows: #5, #6, #4, #1, #3, and #2. Well, I’m not really sure if #3 and #2 are even considered a priority.

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Ollie December 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm

But, of course, there is an understanding here that saving is prioritized over spending.

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