On their blockbuster album Quadrophenia, The Who once asked a unique question of their devoted listeners.
“Can you see the real me”?
It’s a question that Wall Street financial institutions study vigorously in figuring out what has come to be known as your “financial personality”.
Much ink has been spilled to figure out what your pocketbook – or wallet – has to say about you. Banks want to know if you’re, for example, a "debt desperado” – a term Jordan Goodman uses to describe serial debtors in his book "Master Your Money Type."
Or maybe you’re what Julie Stav, who penned "The Money In You," calls a “fearful saver” – meaning that you’re so paralyzed by financial decisions, you refuse to make them.
So, what does your financial personality say about you?
Some hints can be found in that most personal of financial possessions – your wallet.
If, for example, you’re the type of person who can’t, at any given time, accurately say how much cash you’re carrying, the chances are you can’t say how much cash is in your bank account or retirement plan, either.
Or, if you are prone to carrying folded, crumpled and erratically stowed receipts in your pocketbook, it could mean you’re anguished about your personal financial situation. You’re on the right track – you want to organize your finances – but you can’t shift your financial engine into higher gear and actually begin organizing and documenting your receipts.
Do you iron your dollar bills? OK, that’s an exaggeration. But if you carefully file your cash, your cards and your driver’s license in strict order, that’s usually a good sign. People who have meticulously organized their wallets and pocketbooks are the same people who know, to the dollar, what’s in their bank account, and what they paid in taxes last year.
And those are the people who tend to do best, financially. Why? It’s like the old Woody Allen line that says, “90% of life is just showing up."
So it goes with money management. If you know what’s in your wallet, chances are you know where you stand financially – and where you want to go.