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People are always asking me how much I'm worth. Well, all I can say is, I've got enough money to last me the rest of my life. As long as I die in the next 20 minutes.
                               -George Burns


Financial expert Shoya Zichy has said that "INFJs are the most frugal of all the types."

According to Otto Kroeger, that's because we're so bad with finances:  

Details, practicality, and precision are the banes of their existence.  It is difficult for them to find anything inspirational about something so mundane as money.  As a result they tend to be poor money-handlers.  Often aware of this weakness, they can be conservative and cautious with their money.

All of which may be true, but my INTJ husband is much worse at handling money than me -- and I'm the one who takes care of paying bills in this family.  So I don't know whether Otto's underestimating us or if he's uncomfortably accurate -- I could make an argument either way.

I confess it has taken me years to learn some simple money management facts, and I'm sharing the best nuggets I've learned with you here.  Unfortunately, some of it may grate you the wrong way -- there's something about discussing money that just feels anti-idealistic and maybe downright tacky.  But maturity teaches us that it's something we must confront eventually, so you may as well brace yourself.

Following are three ways of thinking about money.

If you consider yourself a normal, middle-class person with a "normal" income who wants to preserve and perpetuate that lifestyle, I suggest you investigate David Bach's values-based finance system.  Rather than emphasize retirement funding, which most financial advisors seem to do as a rule, he views money as a tool for realizing your dreams, and suggests arranging your financial affairs to align with your values rather than merely coincide beneficially with your Golden Years.

In concert with that, following Brian Tracy's advice is worthwhile:

Parkinson's law says that expenditures invariably rise to meet income.  The more you earn, the more you will spend.  Even if you double or triple your income, you will eventually double or triple your expenses and end up no further ahead.

Financial success comes from breaking Parkinson's law.  Financial success is possible only when you refuse to allow your expenditures to increase at the same rate that your income increases.

Here is a rule that will almost guarantee that you become wealthy over the course of your working lifetime:  Save and invest 50 percent of any increase you earn in your salary or compensation for the rest of your career.

You can spend the other 50 percent of the increase on improving your standard of living.  But resolve today to save half of every increase for the rest of your career.  This discipline alone will ensure that you achieve financial independence, probably several years before you expect.

Here is a simple five-word formula for financial success:  Spend less than you earn.  Spend less than you earn and then save or invest the balance.  This formula can make you rich.


Next, I want to offer you a radical view about managing money that I wish I'd learned some decades ago.  You can explore this method of money handling through the title Your Money or Your Life by Joe Rodriguez and Vicki Robin, leaders in the voluntary simplicity movement.  What's exciting about this approach is that by being frugal and investing cautiously, you can actually become financially independent and "retire" young and even devote yourself to volunteering for causes you believe in -- a startling and refreshing concept that I had never grasped before reading this book.  But following their advice does take enormous self-discipline.  Here's a description:

You know how to get rich?  Earn more, spend less. That's it!  That's the secret to living a financially successful and stress-free life.  There are things that you can do to help you learn how to spend less.  Like living lightly on the planet, using resources such as recycling and thrift stores and bartering and communal living and food banks.  In this book, Dominguez and Robin take you by the hand and lead you step by step to financial independence.  It's a very difficult plan to follow, but if you do, and if you take what they have to teach you to heart, you can begin to live that life that you have always dreamed of, for less than you imagined.

This approach may appeal to Catalysts most because it could easily be described as "idealistic."  And whether you pursue it or not, it's an option you owe it to yourself to be knowledgeable about, unless the idea of being a wage slave appeals to you.

At the other end of the spectrum, here's an approach for people who crave becoming wealthy, which may be an elusive dream for many INFJs, since it seems to demand from us skills and perhaps even a Temperament we aren't naturally endowed with.  Nevertheless, here's some plain talk for those who find the concept of becoming rich appealing:

In the whole wide world of money there are only four major ways of becoming a millionaire.  No matter what your background, you can learn to master one of these areas.

  1. Investments: Accumulating shares of stock, bonds, CDs

  2. Real Estate: Owning properties

  3. Business: Marketing products, services, or ideas

  4. Internet: Expanding possibilities

We call this the Mountain Range of Wealth.  A lot of routes can be taken to the top of each mountain.  ...But for now, realize that you will probably reach your million-dollar goal with a combination of all four.  Suppose you make a fortune by launching a home-based business.  You'll still need to invest your excess cash in the stock market or other forms of passive investment.  Certainly, you will need to buy some real estate along the way -- and if you can buy it at wholesale prices instead of retail, it can make a huge difference.

For now, just be aware of the four major mountains.  Make an initial "gut" decision to choose one mountain -- something that you sense is going to be your primary investment vehicle.  Suppose you were enrolled in a University of Money.  Which of the four mountains would be your "major"?  Which would be your "minor"?  Which mountain interests you the most?  Which one scares you the most?

Imagine yourself in conversation five years from now.  Try these words on for size:

"I made my millions in real estate."

"I made my millions by investing in the stock market."

"I made my millions in business."

"I made my millions on the Internet."

Which one seems right to you?

-Excerpted from The One Minute Millionaire,
Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Hall


I chose this excerpt because it was the first time I had ever read a statement that enumerated and "limited" specific sources for acquiring wealth.  (It's nice to know MLM schemes aren't the only way... ha!)  Simply having the field narrowed down in this way was very useful knowledge for me, although I've decided I cannot be as singleminded about gaining financial freedom as many books advise (I have other interests I feel inclined to pursue with at least as much if not more devotion).  If you're interested in actively pursuing abundant wealth, this is an excellent book to read, and it has a Catalyst overtone I found appealing.  Other books also emphasize prosperity, wealth, and abundance and encourage the mindset that helps to attain these treasures.  If nothing else, it makes a good case for exploring the consequences of your relationship with money.

The amazing thing is that none of these three approaches I've shared necessarily excludes the other two -- you can work on all three of them simultaneously. 

I want to note that my own ability to handle money with facility seems somehow linked to my individuation process.  While I've been frugal and good at saving money for as long as I can remember (but not to overlook my generosity with others), my sense that I needed to get a better handle on my money picture probably developed around the time that my introverted Thinking was beginning to individuate.  Around that phase of my life I tried subscribing to Money magazine in an attempt to learn about handling my finances more intelligently.  Unfortunately, most of the issues were tossed unread into a corner.  I forced myself to read the Charles Givens books about money, and they made a huge difference by giving me a sense of self-assurance about my grasp of money management to the extent that I was able to buy real estate all by myself.  (Sadly, Givens' later reputation precludes me from recommending those titles to you now.)

But my point is this:  rather than shy away from the topic of finances, it's better to confront it head-on and do what it takes to feel competent about managing and investing your own money.  Reading a book on the topic isn't as daunting as you may think (especially if you seek out the accessible, well-written titles), and it's critical to feel independent and self-reliant in this regard.  Consulting a financial advisor is a wise course of action, but exercise due caution of course.  I recommend fee-only advisors, and referrals can be had from NAPFA.  The point is, it's no sign of failure to have someone else (respectable) managing your money, advising you, or doing your annual taxes.  But make it your priority to oversee what they do, and be sure you have a sense of confidence that what they are doing is in your best interest.  The topic of money isn't as complicated as some people make it, and learning a few simple techniques and principles may not make you an expert, but will provide you with the confidence you need to manage this important aspect of your life.

Last but not least, take Shell Tain's free teleclasses on money (you can't beat free!).  It's great to delve into this topic with another INFJ, who helps see behind the cultural perspectives and what money symbolizes in our lives.

That said, my parting words of advice would be to share the words of Life's Little Instruction Book, which says, "Buy as much house as you can afford," and "Buy the cheapest car you can get away with."

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