A financial planner outlines the 3 mindsets that dictate how you approach your money

Successful Money Saving Steps
Successful Money Saving Steps

Cary Carbonaro moved speedily up the corporate ladder, and was making $500,00 a year by the time she was 30.

Today, she's a certified financial planner, who uses her own experiences and knowledge to help clients make the best choices with their money.

"We all need to make sure we're taking our dreams past the instant gratification stage: past that sign, through the front door, and into the years that will follow," she writes in her book, "Money Queen's Guide: For Women Who Wants to Build Wealth and Banish Fear." "It all begins with a hard look inward. To embark on any plan, you should first be real and honest with yourself. You need to know who you are, and where you're going."

The key to making our dreams a reality comes down to three mindsets that all of us possess to varying degrees, she says: commitment, fear, and happiness.

She writes:

The purpose of considering where you fall is to help gain a better understand of your tendencies and historical behaviors when it comes to finances. Through acknowledging your trends, you can consider which ones should be celebrated and which ones can be changed. Building a life with financial security is an ever-changing and moving target. What works today may be a recipe for disaster tomorrow. So, it is important to consistently be aware and cognizant of who you are and where your tendencies fall.

If it still isn't apparent where your tendencies lie after reading about these three mindsets below, you can take her firm's online quiz to determine yours.


According to Carbonaro, most of the world has a fear-based mindset when it comes to money.

"We are scared of the relationship, fearful of saving, fearful of spending, and therefore, simply brush it under the rug," she writes in her book.

Pros: Being scared of your finances might not always be a bad thing. Those who fall into this category are often cautious, careful decision-makers who live with their means and are well-prepared for the unexpected, according to Carbonaro.

Cons: However, those who have this fear-based mindset tend to be slow in making decisions at times, and can experience anxiety when facing big financial commitments.

If this is you: "In today's world, that drive to squirrel away money in a safe place might mean these types would be comfortable with stable portfolios that can weather the market's ups and downs," Carbonaro writes.


People who have a "commitment mindset" are focused on taking care of others.

Pros: They are excellent providers who also consider the perspective of other people, not only when it comes to fulfilling obligations, but also in terms of how others will be affected by a decision they might make, Carbonaro writes.

Cons: However, people with this mindset might put other people's needs ahead of their own.

If this is you: "When working with a commitment mind, I try to ensure that all of their ducks are in a row in terms of long-term planning and paperwork," Carbonaro writes. "Life insurance, retirement plans, and other future needs are taken care of right away, so we can center our efforts on finding balance."


"Are you driven by a desire to have everything you want immediately because it makes you happy?"

Pros: Individuals with a "happiness mindset" are focused on the here and now, according to Carbonaro. "They're decisive, even with big decisions, and tend not to dwell on potential problems in the future," she writes.

Cons: The flaw in these happiness-driven individuals is they feel as if they don't have enough material things and can over-emphasize instant gratification. They might also have little in savings, and usually don't have a plan for emergency funds.

If this is you: You might also benefit from less-traditional savings plans, like flexible spending packages and automatic deposits into 401(k) plans or Roth IRAs. "Essentially, people with a happiness mindset need to have savings put on autopilot for them because it's just not their first priority," she writes.

Related: 5 useful money tips

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Originally published