Are You a Spendthrift or a Tightwad?

If you had to describe your money management style, would you say you’re more “miserly” or more of a “spend thrift”? Does it take a crow bar to separate you from your money even for things you need or does money burn a proverbial “hole in your pocket” never staying in your grasp long enough to be counted? Please find below a scale developed by Scott Rick, Cynthia Cryder, and George Lowenstein* that places you along the tightwad – spendthrift continuum. Are you a tightwad or spendthrift – let’s just see.

So, how did you do? Don’t forget to reverse your scores for questions 2b and 3 (for example, 5=1, 4=2, 3=3, 2=4, 1=5). Use the following norms to peg where you fall along the Spendthrift-Tightwad continuum. The average score on the ST-TW scale is 14.38.
Spendthrift-Tightwad Scale Norms
Tightwads = 4 to 11
Unconflicted = 12 to 18
Spendthrifts = 19 to 26

The $64,000 question in all of this is which money management style will bring you the most happiness? The answer is neither. Both are obsessions with money and will not lead to lasting happiness. The middle ground (Unconflicted) is where you want to be when it comes to money management, and really most things in life. I seem to remember reading somewhere that people should practice “moderation in all things”. Not too tight with our money but not too loose either.
And, this is what makes achieving financial peace so difficult. If you squirrel away every penny you ever made and spending even a dime makes you sweat, you will be just as unhappy as the spend thrift. Moderation in all things – indeed. Your thoughts?
* Scott I. Rich, Cynthia E. Cryder & George Lowenstein, “Tightwads and Spendthrifts,” Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 2008, 767-782.

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8 Responses to Are You a Spendthrift or a Tightwad?

  1. Todd Stoner says:

    Good article on being a spendthrift or a tightwad. Have any suggestions when one spouse is a spendthrift and the other is a tightwad?

  2. jim_roberts says:

    I am glad you enjoyed my blog. What’s strange is that surveys tell us that we are a nation of tightwads but our spending habits seem to betray any such notion. It all has to do with the “pain of paying”. Businesses have made it so painless to pay for products (credit cards, no payments for a year, 90-days same as cash, etc.) that we morphed into a nation of spenders. The easiest solution: pay cash or write checks. A little “old” school but very painful. The more pain associated with paying the less likely you will spend. Now, what to do when spouses’ spending styles don’t match. The best solution, of course, is for the two of you to meet in the middle. Being miserly is no fun either. One of you has to loosen up a bit and the other has to apply the brakes. The best way to do this is by setttng a budget (and talking about your financial goals) that allows you to pay the bills and save money but leaves a little cheddar for fun. Save, pay the bills and tithe and have fun with the rest. Anybody out there have any other ideas about how to get spouses on the same finacial page? We would love to hear your thoughts.

  3. Austin Smith says:

    I see myself as more of a spendthrift, but the test said I was in the middle, that’s not too bad. Good Article and the blog posts have been interesting thus far. Thanks

  4. jim_roberts says:

    The middle is a good place to be – not too tight not too loose. Being a spendthrift has its obvious problems but there is a saying that goes “miserly is misery”. Translation: it’s no fun to be overly cheap either. I am glad you like my posts.

  5. I scored an 11, just slightly a tightwad, as a suspected. I enjoy getting a good deal, but spending a huge amount of money freaks me out.

    I usually deposit most of my paychecks but get some cash back, that way I only spend the cash I have instead of pulling from the “unlimited supply” of my card.

  6. jim_roberts says:

    Eleven – not bad. As we discussed, it’s all about moderation – not a spendthrift but not a miser either. It’s finding that middle ground that is so difficult especially with the availability of easy credit. Credit cards and easy payment plans take a lot of the sting out of buying things and make even tightwads spend more money.

  7. Tori Moore says:

    This is probably one of my favorite blogs! I definitely found out a little about my spending habits! Thank you Professor Roberts! So interesting!

  8. Sarah Craig says:

    This was an interesting article! I find myself changing and becoming more of an unconflicted person instead of a spendthrift the older I get, and the more I have to be the one in charge of bills and other necessary exspenses.

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