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Money and the holidays. For some of us, we happily swing into spending mode. I look forward to the excuse to buy people gifts and spend money on treats and extras. Each store I walk into is full of tempting, fun, creative and exciting things, all waiting for me! One of my strong money personalities is "giving," and this is my season.

While raised in the same household, my sister does not share my joy in holiday spending. I guess she's a "money avoider." Year-round, she tends to avoid talking or doing anything with money, unless she must. She avoids holiday shopping.

Put two people in the same situation where they need to handle money, and they're likely to react differently. Our past experiences, values and other variables all influence our reactions. Understanding our money personalities can help us better manage our finances and understand family and friends whose financial behaviors may baffle us. Different researchers may use different names to identify our personalities; however, they tend to agree that being more conscious of our money personalities can be helpful.

When money personalities affect our decisions without us being aware, they may be holding us back from reaching goals. This time of year is good to think about what influences how we use money.

Syble Solomon, author of several books on the topic, explains that money personalities are a combination of our attitudes and habits. While she calls these "money habitudes," the idea is similar to how other professionals refer to money personalities.

A person with a strong "status" money personality may enjoy giving expensive gifts to others as well as spending money on themselves. Challenges with this personality could include spending too much in order to be impressive and/or hiding financial troubles from friends or family.

All money personalities have advantages and challenges; the trick is to know what they are. If challenges of the status personality sound familiar, deciding how much you are going to spend on a gift before you go shopping may help.

Many people share the "security" money personality; money is used to feel safe and in control. While someone with this personality may plan well for the future, they may also find it challenging to enjoy spending money. One idea for someone who feels they use this personality too much is to plan for fun and set aside a reasonable amount of money to spend during the holidays.

For me, with the "giving" personality, I need to balance joy in giving with other financial goals, including saving for retirement.

None of us are just one personality, but one personality can dominate. When I'm stressed, my "security" money personality tends to dominate. Then I need to thoughtfully consider my financial situation. Creating a spending plan lets me spend money I do have and decreases my stress.

Speaking of stress, my husband and I have different money personalities. Understanding our money personalities helps us talk about finances more easily with each other.

If you'd like to learn more about your money personality, call for an appointment with a Money Mentor at University of Illinois Extension. Money Mentor volunteers have office hours in both Danville (217-442-8615) and Champaign (217-333-7672) and are available to answer your questions about credit reports, spending plans and financial goals, as well as money personalities.

Kathy Sweedler is a consumer economics educator at the University of Illinois Extension. Contact her at 217-333-7672 or email sweedler@illinois.edu.