In the many years that I have been teaching financial literacy to kids, teens and adults for that matter, I have noticed that kids, as young as 9 years old, have often already developed very particular personalities in regard to how they handle, and think about, their money.

How many of you have ever noticed that you are fairly consistent with regard to your behavior and thoughts pattern around money? How many of you wish you had a better understanding of why and how those behaviors and thoughts work so that you could make them more supportive of your financial goals? Great.

Let's talk about personalities; specifically...let's talk about 'money' personalities(1). The following information will help you, the parent or guardian, identify what type of personality your children have in terms of money. Once you understand the personality at work, you can work with the personality to inspire lessons that will lead the child to financial self-reliance later on. Let's explore the idea of money personalities a bit and don't be surprised if you find yourself in here as well. Adults in our programs, like Creative Wealth for Women workshop, love learning that they are not alone and that there's ways for each personality to improve their money habits and behaviors. Read on...

Most of us understand the meaning of the word personality. We develop different personalities that we use throughout our lives for survival. We use different personalities as defense mechanisms, to impress others, to make us feel good, to help us cope with certain situations, etc. Many of us have developed very supportive personalities as well as some that aren't quite so supportive.

Believe it or not, we have all developed a money personality as well, and learning about these money personalities is important when you're exploring how you and your child deal with money.

There are six basic money personalities . They are: the Saver, the Spender, the Avoider, the Monk, the Amasser and the Worrier. It's important to understand how money personalities develop. The age-old question of nature versus nurture plays a role here. Many parents with more than one child have told me they have a spender, a saver and an avoider and yet they swear they treated all three children the same with regard to money and finances. They shake their heads, not understanding how three children raised in the exact same environment can end up with completely different thought patterns and behaviors around money.

Personally, I think a child's money personality is determined a lot by nature with a healthy dose of nurture thrown in. If the scenario above is you, and you do a little honest digging through your memory, you may begin to notice that you were in slightly different financial situations with each child; perhaps becoming increasingly financially savvy and stable as each child was born or progressively under more financial stress. Though it may not seem different to you, the subtleties of every change over the years causes a change in the energy of the household; attitudes shift, language changes and each child is then exposed to a slightly different version of Mom and Dad and money. In addition, don't forget the powerful effect of the mother's emotional state during pregnancy.

If you consider that each individual is born with his or her own set of psychological tendencies (extrovert, introvert, etc.), you can see how each person in a family may develop a completely different and unique money personality within the same financial environment.

Our experience has shown that children as young as three years of age have started to develop their own financial personalities. Once a money personality has started to develop, children see everything from that point of view and through that conditioning.

For a fun twist on money personalities, we've given them names and characters that make it easier to relate the personality with a particular way of being around money. The main money personalities are as follows:

The Saver-Sammy the Squirrel

Sammy likes to save his money for things he wants to buy and for a rainy day, in case he needs money for something. He is very careful with his money; he doesn't spend it easily and finds most immediate pleasure purchases wasteful and self-indulgent.

The Spender-Manny the Monkey

Manny spends every cent as soon as he gets it on piddlystuff. He often spends more money than he has and never has any money saved. He also likes to buy things and do things for friends and loves to be the life of the party. The spender is the one who often has the latest this or hottest that. Just mentioning the word "budget" makes him want to run away...Or throw up!

The Money Monk-Cassie the Cat

Cassie doesn't feel that money is worth her time or energy. Money is beneath her. She often feels that money isn't a good thing and she just can't be bothered with it. She may feel that money isn't spiritual.

The Avoider-Olivia the Ostrich

Olivia hates dealing with money. She avoids paying bills, looking at credit card statements or paying back debts. She's always in financial trouble. She doesn't know how much money she has in her wallet, exactly how much money she makes, owes or has saved-if she has any saved. She's in a perpetual 'money fog.'

The Money Worrier-Carl the Clam

Carl worries about money constantly. He worries about not having enough, about spending too much, about losing money on investments and about outliving his money. No matter how much money he has or doesn't have, he can't stop worrying. He is always reworking the figures in his budget just to be sure.

The Amasser-Andy the Ant

Andy wants to see his money grow constantly; saving and investing make him feel powerful and secure. He takes his laptop along on vacations to make sure his portfolio is growing every day.

Each money personality has it's supportive roles and its unsupportive roles. The key is to keep the supportive roles and replace the unsupportive roles with more supportive habits and choices that will lead your child, and you, toward happier financial futures.

You probably recognize people in your life that have one or more of these money personalities and since we're not in this world alone, you may want to learn to recognize these personality traits when you get into business and personal relationships with others.

Here's some questions to get your family talking about money:
Which money animal are you most like?
Which money animal is your child most like?
How does your money personality show up in your life?
How does being this animal serve you?
How does being this animal not serve you?

And finally, just for fun, if your money personality had a bumper sticker, what would it say?

Now that you understand that your child's money behavior fits into a particular personality (and sometimes it's a combination of personalities), you can begin to explore how to help them know themselves better and hence, be aware of their underlying behaviors around money. And as we all know, awareness is the first step toward change and change is what we need to keep our kids from being in the same financial mess many of this nation's adults have found themselves in. Help empower your kids to create the lives they dream by helping them understand their behavior about money.

(1)For more information about money personalities, read Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts In Your Life and Relationships, Walker and Company, 1995 by Olivia Mellan. Used here by permission of author.

Author's Bio: 

Elisabeth Donati is the founder of Creative Wealth International, creator of Camp Millionaire (formerly The Money Camp) and author of the amazing financial parenting tool, The Ultimate Allowance, the only book parents need to turn kids into financially free adults.