Normally we think of genre when we talk about music. I gravitate to musical genres depending on my mood, the time or activities of the day or perhaps who I am with. I can fairly clearly define a dominant genre though and I also recognize that this has changed over the course of my life. We are accustomed to talking about our musical tastes. New friends will often ask what type of music we like to get to know us and to see if there are shared interests.
I see some parallels with people and their money choices. My father’s money genre might have been called “hard frugal”. He was tight as could be, kept furniture and food long beyond their expiration date and found happiness with what he had rather than what he didn’t. He was quite consistent except when it came to his one indulgence: gambling. Humans are marvelously inconsistent. Even with this fiscally dangerous hobby, his money lasted throughout his lifetime with some to spare at the end.
My mother is at the opposite extreme. Bubblegum pop (a credit card) comes to mind as a metaphorical link. No matter her income she has found a way to outspend it. All without leaving the house much in the last 10 years or so. She has even expressed annoyance at having to continue paying her credit card debt for so long. But her choice of apartment and decision to sell a car she rarely used could make her appear frugal in some ways. Marvelous inconsistency.
My sister and I, and I believe most people, fall somewhere between these extremes. We are often a mixture of genres. Frugal in some areas and lavish in others. My car is sensible but I spend more on restaurant meals than dear friends of mine who have the latest and most interesting cars but rarely eat out. I might characterize my genre as folk music with some R&B and latin mixed in..
These parallels with musical genres exist to a point. We are not NEARLY as accustomed to speaking about our tastes or inclinations with respect to money as we are with music. Considering the importance money plays in our lives, I believe that increased awareness about our personal mix of genres is worth consdieration. As with other aspects of human behavior, self awareness leads to (usually) positive changes.
I have found that gently exploring the marvelous inconsistencies with friends and clients has led to expanded awareness on the part of all who are willing. Its fun to laugh at ourselves and I have seen the newly acquired insight lead to better decision making. This awareness can be hard to come by on our own. It usually requires the help of a trusted friend or financial coach to point out our patterns and help us see what we cannot about ourselves.
Are you a little bit country (can your own veggies) and a little bit rock-n-roll (while listening to your massive iTunes library of classic rock)? Classical (conservative investments in CDs only) with some latin jazz (except for that wild gamble in oil futures)? I would love to hear the results of your own exploration.