I’ve heard about it. You’ve heard about it. Your younger cousin who wanted to “type” everyone at Thanksgiving has clearly heard about it. It’s official, the Enneagram is everywhere.
According to Truity, “the Enneagram is a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people conceptualize the world and manage their emotions.” Also called the Enneagram of Personality, the concept maps nine different personality types on a diagram that also details how each type relates to another, explaining our behaviors and relationships. The origins of the Enneagram are murky, but the concept gained popularity in the mid-twentieth century, with roots in both spirituality and pop psychology.
And while on the surface it may appear to be the new fad or a palette-cleanser in between talking astrological signs and Sex and the City character-identification, it can prove to be an insightful tool in self-discovery and personal development. It explores your greatest fears and deepest desires and how they ultimately act as motivators in your external and internal worlds.
The Enneagram has played a crucial role in my life over the past year. It has helped strengthen the communication within my marriage and accompanied much of the work with my therapist. Financially, the Enneagram has helped me identify budgeting blindspots, set attainable goals, and develop better habits specific to my strengths and weaknesses. (I’m a 4w3.)
Here is each Enneagram type, how they likely approach money, how they should approach money to yield optimal return, with a growth-focused 2020 financial goal tailored to them. You can also take a quiz here to determine your type. Keep in mind: I’m no expert, and the Enneagram is ultimately just a fun personality tool, but the results can be surprisingly insightful.
Reformers are deemed the “perfectionists” of the Enneagram. Their greatest fear is being corrupt or defective, and they long to be good and balanced. They were your student council presidents, the person leading a protest in college, and the colleague most likely to comment that your infographic is a millimeter off-centered.
How they might approach money: The Reformer likely approaches money the way Miranda Hobbes approached well, most things: swift, headstrong, and in retrospect, the right way. Guided by their principles and a need for structure, The Reformer enjoys or at the very least, respects rules. They appreciate expert coaching from others, sharing their knowledge with peers and loved ones, and knowing how their actions contribute to the bigger picture. They likely have the most traditional goals, have been investing in their 401K since they graduated, and wince at the idea of deviating from their budget. At their best, Ones are wise with their money and conscientious with their spending habits. At their worst, they are likely to withdraw and become uber-frugal and deeply self-critical.
How they should approach money: Unlike other types, details and guidelines are a Reformer’s best friend. Reformers should make time with a financial advisor and together create a financial plan for the year, and that plan should include money for recreational and relaxation use. From there, Ones should keep a budget tracker to reference each month. Call it old school, but the Reformer does best with a tried-and-true budget spreadsheet or an app like Mint.com. (Because it is 2020.)
2020 Goal: Type ones should consider starting or joining a financial literacy club in 2020. This will not only connect them with like-minded individuals bound to hold them accountable, but they will also lean into their gift of development, helping those around them perfect their finances. Additionally, by exchanging stories with other people, they will be more empowered to create financial goals based on their specific aspirations, not what most money-focused media outlets (or Boomer parents) are telling them to save for. And for the love of whatever you believe in, Ones need to celebrate their milestones and learn to treat themselves (responsibly) in 2020.
The Helpers are referred to as the “caretakers” of the Enneagram. Their greatest fear is being unwanted, and they go out of their way to ensure they feel loved and needed by others. They were the friend your parents loved and approved of, the “mom” of the group when you all went out, and is the coworker who remembers your birthday — with a balloon and homemade cake in hand.
How they might approach money: The Helpers likely approach their money with altruism that is not as sustainable as it is honorable. Being of the ‘heart triad’, Twos are most likely to emotionally spend and are especially likely to overspend on others. Further, they are the least likely type to ask or accept help from others. At their best, they are generous and untethered to material possessions. At their worst, money is used as a tool to fill a void within themselves and even manipulate others.
How they should approach money: Because Helpers are dominated by their emotions and external relationships, creating a traditional budget sheet would prove to be more a fool’s errand and pledging to “have more self-control this month” curdles to wishful thinking. Twos ultimately have to learn the hard truth that the consequences of their spending often outlive the gratification they get from helping others. In the interim, it will help for Twos to have external motivations and accountability partners. Additionally, they can really dive into their gift of emotional intelligence by examining and evolving how they show their love and by keeping a safe-to-spend app on their phone, detailing how much “love language” money they have that month. So when the generosity bug bites, a Two doesn’t bite themselves in the ass.
2020 Goal: The Helper should consider having a ‘financial buddy’ where both parties set challenges for themselves and share their goals with one another. Not only will this give depth to their relationship, but the Two and their counterparts will also be able to root each other on and celebrate each others’ successes when the challenge is over.
The Achievers are the “~*goal diggers*~” and “~*hashtag girl bosses*~” of the Enneagram. Their greatest fear is being worthless, and they’re motivated by a need to feel valuable and successful. They were captains of their sports team in high school, the person double-majoring in something meaningful and something practical, and the coworker who is perhaps setting the bar way too high for everyone else.
How they might approach money: Depending on how image-conscious the Three is, they either live to work or work to live lavishly. Regardless, Achievers likely apply SMART goals to their finances, knowing exactly how and when they will reach each financial milestone. In fact, if they are to get derailed by anything, it’s that they’ve set too many goals at once or are pining over too many material purchases. At their best, Threes are self-aware, self-assured, and self-motivated. At their worst, they are opportunistic, vain, and use their money to overindulge.
How they should approach money: Because Threes tend to thrive in fast-paced environments and enjoy being the poster child of whatever it is they’re excelling in, a perfect financial setting for an Achiever would be external-facing, tech-friendly, and on-trend. Bonus points if their money can work harder than they can. Enter investing and saving apps, blogs, and letter boards (I’ll explain).
Downloading an app like E-trade and investing in stocks will keep Threes updated on financial trends and help them save for their ambitious goals — which will subsequently be an aide in them posting a debt-free letter board on IG.
2020 Goal: The Achiever should consider starting a financial blog or writing for an established publication. Writing will be helpful for their growth as it requires introspection and sitting the f*ck down for a moment, but is also something external-facing, which appeals to them.
The Individualists are the tortured romantics of the Enneagram. Their greatest fear is that they will have no identity or significance to the world, and they long to find themselves and remain authentic to who they believe themselves to be. They were your theater kids and creative types in high school, the person who cultivated their own path after graduation, and the coworker who always has the most intuitive and creative, albeit unusual, ideas during a brainstorm.
How they might approach money: Because the Individualist is part of the heart triad along with the Helper and the Achiever, they are more inclined to emotional spending due to their habit of following feeling rather than acknowledging facts. Further, because the Individualist is motivated to cultivate an identity (or let’s call it what it is: a personal brand) they are likely to spend generously if they feel the purchase could help them in their quest to self-discover or cultivate their aesthetic. Combine that with their love for nostalgia and art that moves them, and you have an uncontrollable kid in an Urban Outfitters store. At their best, they are true to themselves and the goals they have set. At their worst, they give into a need to “keep up with their aesthetic.”
How they should approach money: Individualists yearn to be unique and stand-out, so they should approach their financial planning with the same sense of wonder and individuality. Rather than see money as a weapon to control them, Fours need to understand money is a tool to sponsor their creativity and self-expression. I would encourage fellow Fours to sit down and create very specific, tailored visions and goals. Once they have a healthy relationship with money, they will experience their “growth” number, a One, and become more structured and achievement-orientated.
2020 Goal: Because a Four yearns for authenticity and prefers to spend time doing something that fuels their soul and creativity, the Individualist should consider making a side hustle out of their passion.
As a Four-wing-Three myself, I began a small business last year. I love interior design and have been featured on some popular sites. Without a doubt, the majority of my time and money is spent curating my home, and I want to make my home pay for itself. I began renting my space on Peerspace for photoshoots, music videos, and even engagement shoots and holiday cards! Each month, we make approximately $700 – $1,200, usually covering half our rent. Easiest passive income ever.
The Investigators are the researchers and intellectuals, respectively, of the Enneagram. Their greatest fear is being useless or incapable, and they are motivated by the desire to be competent and insightful. They were your walking Wikipedias in high school, the friend who actually listens and remembers small details, and the coworker who starts most of their sentences with, “Actually, did you know….?”
How they might approach money: Fives likely approach money as a topic they can voraciously read about, diligently observe, and sometimes do very little about — out of fear they won’t approach it correctly. They are more hesitant when spending or investing but have probably read most of the articles on the Internet about financial planning. At their best, they are observant, open-minded, and thoughtful with their decisions. At their worst, they can be reclusive, critical, and withdraw from others.
How they should approach money: Gamification Town, USA. From finding the best cash-back credit cards to optimizing your Southwest credit card for free flights to downloading reward-focused apps, gamification could be an Investigator’s extreme sport. This is a perfect approach for a Five because it requires their favorite hobby: research.
2020 Goal: The Investigator should research and open up the best rewards credit card for their lifestyle. And to take it a step further, they should tie a bucket list item to the reward. For example, “I will sign-up for the improv class I’ve been dying to take once I collect $300 in cashback.”
The Loyalists are our reliable, funny, slightly overanxious, and predictable best friends of the Enneagram. Their greatest fear is being without support or guidance, and they long to feel secure and have a safety net. They keep in touch with their high school best friends, they’re your wing-person when hitting the town and the colleague who stays at the job a little longer than they should — they would rather stay with what’s familiar than take even a calculated risk.
How they might approach money: With Loyalists being the “safety first” type of the Enneagram, there is a great chance that like the Reformer, the Loyalist abides by the timeless financial advice, has perhaps too much in their emergency fund because “what if,” and wouldn’t dream of investing in something deemed “high risk.” But for all intents and purposes, they’re likely good with money; they just need to learn to have more fun with it.
How they should approach money: Again, like the Reformer, the Loyalist is likely doing all of “the right things.” However, because they possess the gift of honoring long-term commitments and are the most responsible of the types, they should be leaning into high-yield savings accounts, long-term investments like a Roth IRA, and set-and-forget apps.
2020 Goal: It would be really brilliant if they could really “forget it” and not check on their finances obsessively, knowing that they’ve set up the proper systems to ease their constant worry.
Enthusiasts are often referred to as the Enneagram’s “life of the party” type. Their greatest fear is being deprived or feeling sad, and they do everything in their power to experience all of the joys of life and chase euphoria at all times. They were the class clown in school, the person who backpacked through Europe for a semester, and the colleague who moonlights as a travel or food blogger.
How they might approach money: Sevens often get tossed into a stereotype of being irresponsible and flaky, but more often than not, Sevens have goals and are capable of taking practical steps to get there. But Enthusiasts struggle with overestimating their love for something and subsequently overspending on upfront costs of a hobby they may later give up. For example, a Seven may get really into yoga after taking one class with a friend. Next thing you know, they’re signing up for an annual membership, buying a Fabletics subscription service, and binging Yoga with Adriene videos, only to abandon yoga for baking next month.
How they should approach money: Mastering your finances takes focus, accountability, and consistency: skills that do not always come as naturally to the Seven. However, they approach life with an optimist’s lenses and can turn the dullest activity into an adventure. Plus, they are a thinking/head type, so they should approach money with a bargaining mindset. Meaning, before making a purchase, they should think and bargain with themselves, asking themselves probing questions and issuing a “first-this-then-that” action. If I want to be the next Casey Neistat of YouTube, I will first shoot and edit videos on my phone for the first three months. If I am still vlogging in 90 days, I can invest in a nicer, used camera.
2020 Goal: Enthusiasts should consider introducing a useful challenge to their everyday decision-making. How can I add variety or adventure for zero dollars? Have at least two no-spend days per week, for example. This will encourage the Seven to be imaginative and spontaneous without breaking the travel mason jar.
The Challengers are the headstrong, no-nonsense leaders of the Enneagram. Their greatest fear is being out of control and undermined, and they are motivated by their desire to protect themselves and their life’s outcome. They were the students who ran the classroom more than the teacher did, started their own clubs in college, and the worker on your company’s executive board, at only 29 years old.
How they might approach money: Challengers might adopt a “work hard, play hard” approach to their lifestyle. While they aren’t frugal with themselves or their needs, they work twice as hard to provide the luxuries in life they want. At their best, they are self-satisfied and resistant to spend. At their worst, they are stubborn or even delusional with their financial planning.
How they should approach money: Challengers should talk, and most importantly, listen to and read others’ stories about money. Because they are programmed to think their way is the best way, another perspective could prove to pay them in dividends (no pun intended).
2020 Goal: With Challengers being aggressive, they make good salespeople. Eights should consider selling and buying various items through Craigslist, Facebook, or other third-party apps. No one is going to rip them off and get away with it, and they’ll make sure to get top dollar for their goods.
The Peacemakers are our gentle and creative “devil’s advocates” of the Enneagram. Their greatest fear is conflict. Like, any conflict at all. And they long to feel a sense of belonging and peace of mind about the world around them. They were the kids who got along with everyone in high school, went with you to your first major doctor’s appointment when you were scared, and are the coworkers who convince you not to cuss out your boss and that maybe your coworker isn’t out to get you after all.
How they might approach money: The Peacemaker likely has a statement full of purchases they would blush at. Because they are so kind and so agreeable, they can often get pulled into trips, movies, and outings they wouldn’t attend on their own. They are well-intentioned but possess poor follow-through. At their best, they are practical, thoughtful, and considerate with their options and outcomes. At their worst, they are unmotivated and lazy with their financial planning.
How they should approach money: And because of the aforementioned, a Nine, more than any other type, benefits from auto-pay bills and auto-drafts. Set it, and you truly will forget it, Peacemakers.
2020 Goal: Creating a financial vision board would be a thoughtful first step in identifying their needs and wants and could prove to be the internal spark needed to inspire action. Once the vision board is created, The Peacemaker should share their goals with a trusted friend and together develop proper steps to achieve them.
Can a person be boiled down to a number? Of course not. And this isn’t a live-by, die-by blueprint for your financial life. However, if the budget sheets aren’t working, and the willpower to stop spending isn’t happening, consider this a fun tool for developing habits best to fit your needs, fears, and desires.
Jazmine Reed-Clark is a true crime and self-improvement junkie working in HR, and a millennial who (finally) knows the difference between a stock and a bond. She thinks.