The owner of a successful company frets over buying a couch. A single mother, with $25,000 in credit card debt, refuses to say no to her son’s plea for a new car. When it comes to money, what makes these people act this way? Brent Kessel, MSN Money’s finance expert, says a lot of people find themselves stuck in awkward patterns with money. And many financial experts say it's because of our “money makeup,” which are ideas formed early in life that control a person’s spending, giving and investment decisions. Understanding these forces is the key to changing bad financial behaviors for good.

There are several money personality types. Which one are you?

  • The Guardian. This is a person who’s hyper-careful with their money and always alert about what they are spending. 
  • The Pleasure Seeker is someone who values enjoyment and instant gratification above all else.
  • The Saver. This person seeks security and abundance by accumulating plenty of financial assets.
  • The Caretaker gives and lends money to express compassion and generosity.
  • The Star, who spends, invests or gives away money to be recognized, feel hip and to increase their self-esteem.
  • The Innocent. This person doesn’t pay too much attention to money. He believes life will work out for the best.
  • The Empire Builder. This person thrives on power and innovation to create something of lasting value.

Kessel says the happiest people have a good balance of traits from several of these personalities. Unfortunately, most people have one or two dominant styles that keep them stuck with bad financial habits – especially when it comes to investing. For example, The Star chooses assets because they’re in vogue, such as hedge funds and “green” companies for the future. For this person, Kessel advises investing 90% of their worth in a “boring” responsible portfolio, and only 10% in what he calls a “cocktail party” account. That way they’ll still have investments to brag about.  

If you want to learn more about your money personality, and how to improve your spending, saving and investing habits? Check out It's Not About the Money by Brent Kessel.