People and Money, It’s Complicated 

 May 14, 2021

By  Ted McLyman


What if everything you believe about money is wrong? Not technically incorrect, but not suited to you because of your unique Money Temperament™. I am sure you'd want to know why and how to fix it, wouldn’t you?


The Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong

The conventional wisdom about money is wrong. Humans are not hardwired to work well with money. Our brain developed eons ago to keep us alive and pass on our genes. Doing taxes, understanding the small print on credit card statements, and navigating modern society’s economic pitfalls are not things most humans do well.

Think about this. Have you ever run into a grocery store to buy milk and bread only to spend a small fortune on things you did not need or plan to buy? Of course, you have, you are human. How about your house and car? I bet both have more whistles, bells, and shiny objects than you need, but you were adamant you had to have them at the time of purchase. Now, let’s assume you’re one of the lucky few who understands money and manages it well; you know people who could use a little help to make better money choices, right?

Financial Literacy

The general level of financial literacy, at least in the United States, is abysmal. Far too few schools and colleges require a course in personal-finance or basic economics to graduate. Even though money management skills are essential to success in a modern economy, teaching these skills is not a priority. And if you are fortunate enough to have received formal money training, the program most likely did not address money behavior.

The traditional rational approach to economic and finance training and education focuses on activity, products, and services – not behavior. The assumption is you are rational with your money. When faced with a money choice–to spend or not to spend–you do a quick cost-benefit analysis in your head and select the most cost-effective choice. Amazingly, you do this in a vacuum with no personal or social frame of reference. Really?

I hope you agree that this approach does not make much sense. Humans are not rational, calculating decision-makers. We are emotional animals who think; we are not thinking animals with emotions. Neuromarketing researcher Dr. A. K. Pradeep (2010) found that 95 to 99 percent of money choices are non-conscious, emotional, and automatic. And researchers continue to see evidence that your feeling-thinking brain is not, by default, good with money. It is time to acknowledge that rational money behavior is the exception, not the norm.


Discover Your Money Temperament

In my latest book, Discover Your Money Temperament, A Common-Sense Guide Financial Security, I lay out the problem in detail and provide a simple, common-sense solution to help you make better money choices.

I believe you must understand how you feel and think about money. I call this your Money Temperament. Your money temperament is all about you. You are unique; therefore, your money temperament is unique. There is no correct money temperament. You need to know what it is and how it influences your money decisions. Since this is all about you, you must understand and explore what makes you “you” about money. What are your values? What is important to you? How do you make choices?

Understand that you have a complicated relationship with money. Your natural money temperament is a product of your biology, your money beliefs, and your culture. You must know:

  • Money decisions are always emotional.
  • Everyone has a unique money temperament.
  • Your money strategies should match your money temperament.
  • The old financial industry is all about products and services–features and benefits.
  • The new financial industry is about behavior–temperament and strategy.
  • Know your money temperament and manager behavior to create wealth.

Note that the rules of money have changed. Most of what you know and believe about money is classical economic thinking, which I think does you a disservice. Dr. Morris Altman, Ph.D., (2012) observed:

  • Humans are not rational when they choose and spend.
  • Humans are not talented and efficient at gaining and processing information.
  • Humans do not always make smart decisions and without regret.
  • Humans are not good at determining the future consequences of their decisions.
  • Humans do not always have enough information for them to make sound decisions.
  • Humans do not always try to gain maximum wealth and income.
  • Humans do care and are influenced by how others are doing.

So, what does this mean for you? Behavior matters. A lot.


Please, take the time and effort to discover your natural money temperament. Then you can build a “one-size-fits-YOU” money strategy. Money is too important to get wrong. There is seldom a do-over. The older you get, the harder it is for you to recover from your money mistakes.


Remember, money success is always about behavior.

  • People are not good with money.
  • Money choices are always emotional.
  • Your feeling brain is in control.
  • The rules of money have changed.
  • You are always human with your money.

Action: Discover Your Money Temperament and Unleash Your Money SuperPowers

  1. Make a note to read my weekly post, and don't forget to bookmark the site. 
  2. Now, take a look at your calendar and your bank statement. Make a mental note, or better, start a journal about how and where you spend your money. Look for patterns - day, time, store, item, brand, style, etc. Don't worry about how much you spent, focus on your "why."
  3. What did you learn about yourself? Don't judge, there is no "correct" answer.  

Meet Ted

Ted McLyman, Author, MPA, MS

Author | Entrepreneur | Business Owner | Speaker | Trainer | Lt Col, USMC (Ret) | Ironman Triathlete

Over 30 years of award-winning experience, helping individuals and organizations achieve peak performance.

Founder MyApexx Behavioral Solutions Group and Pathfinder Coaches Academy; Director, Behavioral Finance, and Advisory Board Member at www.DreamSmartAcademy.com; retired financial advisor/agent; economics instructor, US Naval Academy; Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management; Head, Marine Corp Training Management Division; Commander, USMC Financial Management School; artillery officer; Executive Office, Battle Assessment Team, Operation Desert Storm.(www.tedmclyman.com www.pathfindercoaches.com @tedmclyman)

BA Social Relations, Colgate University; MA Public Administration, Pepperdine University; and MS Performance Technology, Boise State University.

Authored three books on behavioral finance, money temperament, and spending behavior. Ted's author site: www.TedMcLyman.com

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I Love My Stuff – The Endowment Effect

I Love My Stuff – The Endowment Effect
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