14 Harmful Personality Traits Sabotaging Your Financial Future

If you recognize your foibles, you may be able to change your financial future.
Updated May 8, 2024
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Despite their best intentions, millions of Americans are trying to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck. Budgeting, saving, and growing wealth are all within reach, but sometimes it takes more than just knowing the steps.

This article explores 14 personality traits that can subtly impact your financial journey. By understanding these traits, you can develop strategies to build a stronger foundation for financial success.

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The overwhelmed

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People who are overwhelmed tend to freeze when they have to make a decision. An Allianz study suggests this type of person was in the demographic with lower levels of educational achievement and lower-paying jobs.

This group is often in survival mode. They don’t talk about when they’ll retire — they’re financially unprepared to ever stop working.

The haphazardous

Antonioguillem/Adobe woman looking inside her bag

The haphazardous are those who fail to make a financial plan. They lack focus and may be easily swayed into making poor decisions.

People without a plan are more prone to impulse buying and overspending. Many haphazardous individuals earn quite a lot of money but lack a strategy, which prevents any real financial success.

The fearful

Drobot Dean/Adobe portrait of a frightened girl

While openness is a tremendous trait for investment success, those who are fearful are shooting themselves in the foot.

These individuals may have generational trauma tied to money. They may distrust banks and keep money under the proverbial mattress. Or they park their money in a savings account where it earns less than 1% interest when they could see better returns in the stock market.

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The neurotic

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Being neurotic tends to sabotage your love life, your relationships, and your money. By neurotic, we mean emotionally volatile people with high levels of anxiety. Neurotic individuals often describe themselves as worriers or “easily panicked.”

Neurotic people often have a more pessimistic outlook on the stock market and, as a result, don’t invest with the curious, flexible approach needed for optimal success.

The unrealistic

Svitlana/Adobe sitting in office and brainstorming

Most people have some goals when it comes to managing their money. The trouble is that these goals are usually vague, broad, or unspecific. 

Often, their desired standard of living is a utopian fantasy. They overspend in an attempt to achieve a certain standard and fall short of meeting their lifestyle goals and holding onto their money.

The distracted

irissca/Adobe woman distracted from work

Distracted consumers don’t focus on financial planning. Retirement seems eons away. They’ll start investing one day — when they have time to research it.

According to the Allianz study, the distracted often have high income levels and live in expensive homes. It’s busyness, rather than lack of funds, that prevents them from achieving financial efficacy. 

They just have too many distractions now, like busy careers, caring for young children, or managing their kids’ extracurricular activities.

The incurious

pathdoc/Adobe stubborn young man covering ears

Tragically, most Americans lack basic financial literacy. And even worse, many are not inclined to remedy that lack of knowledge. Ignorance — or incuriosity — is an easily fixed barrier to financial success. 

Reading financial journals, following the news, and listening to podcasts are a few solid antidotes. April is Financial Literacy Month, so it’s a good time to start your education.

The impatient

satura_/Adobe time is over

Impatient people want wealth now. They pursue goals boldly and will take shortcuts to get there. If the markets are down, they are more apt to impulsively sell. 

The impatient may also be glued to stock market apps and engage in day trading. While they may know it’s a long game, they lack the patience to buy and hold.

The undisciplined

Syda Productions/Adobe young woman lying on sofa

Most of us lack discipline. Only 40% of Americans spend less money than they earn, laying the foundation for round after round of financial catastrophe.

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The overconfident

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The overly confident are optimists — to a fatal degree. They see a bright future. Regardless of what’s happened so far in life, they plan only for happy future events.

They may save for retirement, weddings, and college but neglect to plan for illness, disability, or economic downturns. As such, they lack a Plan B. 

If bad news comes, they’ll just deal with it then. Or they may have a vague fallback plan, like getting a part-time job in retirement or selling their house.

The change-resistant

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Change is hard; no one likes stepping outside their comfort zone. Change-resistant investors tend to favor gold, precious metals, or what they perceive as “safe” assets. 

But this can prevent you from seizing other solid opportunities to achieve greater financial stability.

The procrastinators

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If America had a national scourge, it would be procrastination. Most Americans procrastinate at least some of the time, and some of us are chronic procrastinators in every area of our lives.

Addiction to screens, social media, and technology only worsens the problem, causing many younger people to completely overlook financial planning.

The hopeful

Tatyana/Adobe woman makes notes in notebook

It’s possible to be too hopeful. Overly hopeful individuals “hope” their precarious situation will improve. If not, que sera sera.

The current picture may seem so bleak that they can’t see their way out and may imagine things can only get better. Their car will stop breaking down. They’ll get an amazing job. They’ll never have another medical bill.

The unimaginative

Feodora/Adobe bored man employee sitting

Maximizing financial success requires some creativity and a willingness to try different things to get different results. People who want to stick with what’s been done before may be limiting their financial prospects.

They could be on a steady path to retirement at age 66, but doing some well-calculated planning could speed up that timeline by several years.

Bottom line

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No matter where you are, you don’t have to stay stuck in that current mold. We all want to be financially successful. Some may define it as getting out of debt, while others may want to find ways to grow their wealth.

But admitting your financial foibles is a good first step. Next up, talk to a financial planner. It’s not hard, scary, or expensive. You’ll feel relieved and wonder why you put it off for so long.

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Author Details

Stacy Garrels Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.

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