Everyone approaches spending, saving, and investing in their own unique way. Your financial style is usually informed by multiple factors, including your upbringing, past and current financial circumstances, and personality.

There’s no single right approach to managing your finances; the trick is understanding your own financial strengths and weaknesses — and then creating a plan that not only works with your style, but also helps you build solid money habits along the way. 

Here are three common “financial styles.” Read on to see if one fits how you spend and save, and whether there are ways you can optimize your style to benefit your life.

The Low-Key Learner

People with this financial style may be paying attention to their saving and spending habits, but personal finance is not always a top priority. For example, if you’re a low-key learner, you might not necessarily have a budget or emergency savings account yet. You may be just starting on your retirement planning journey — and perhaps have questions about what to do. Your long-term financial goals seem far away, and while you know you need to tackle them, the prospect may seem overwhelming.

The good news is that moving your financial future to the forefront is much less burdensome and time-consuming than you may suspect. Here are some tips to accelerate your learning and ensure your finances are on the right track:

  • Reframe your perspective. Learning about personal finance can be empowering. The more you know, the more you can put your money to work for your benefit. It can be fun, too: Try listening to personal finance podcasts or finding a book that sparks your financial interests.
  • Build a budget. The more you know about where your money goes, the better. Track your spending and then create a budget that allows you to meet your financial needs and save for your goals. There are many ways to budget; choose the one you like best. Virtual Wallet® customers: You can set budgets to track your spending by category, like groceries, restaurants and pets. You’ll see how much you’ve spent in each category during the month and how much you have left to spend.
  • Automate your finances. Digital tools, like those found in the PNC Mobile app[1], can make it much easier to take control of your personal finances. Set up automated contributions to savings, create recurring reminders for bill due dates and other important deadlines, and set up alerts that warn you when something seems off with your finances.

The Cautiously Curious 

You’ve dipped a toe into the water of personal finance, but you’re not sure exactly how to swim. People with a cautiously curious style know they want to do more with their money, but often wonder where to start. For example, you might use a spreadsheet or app to track your spending but only check it occasionally. You’ve likely opened a retirement account, but you’re wondering if that’s enough. And while you could cover a small unexpected expense, you’re unsure how to handle a bigger financial emergency.

Congratulations on creating a solid foundation for your financial future. Next up: Build on what you already have to increase your stability, speed up your progress, and create new opportunities. Consider the following:

  • Review your short- and long-term goals. Evaluate what you need and want from your money — and determine whether you have a solid plan to get there. You can start small, but intentionality is key. For example, ensure you save enough via your employee-based retirement plan to receive matching funds and then consider if you can save a bit more.
  • Make sure your money is doing the most that it can. Learn about tax-advantaged ways to save and take advantage of them. If you’re thinking about paying for your children’s college education, explore how a 529 plan can help. The same goes for Flexible Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts. Does your credit card offer cash back or rewards? Find one that does and then spend (not more than you have) to earn.
  • Monitor — and celebrate — your progress. You don’t have to do everything all at once, but you want to keep the momentum going. Track your progress toward your short- and long-term goals and celebrate when you achieve them. Virtual Wallet customers: Try out Savings Rules and Savings Goals in the PNC Mobile app. These tools can help you to save for the things you want, and easily track your progress.

The Savvy Strategist

When it comes to personal finance, you’re well beyond the basics. You know your stuff, and you're constantly working to increase your knowledge and optimize your financial life. If you’re a savvy strategist, you likely save via tax-advantaged accounts and invest in other ways. You know your credit score off the top of your head, and you’re aware of lending options for bigger purchases.

The fact is you’re doing a great job on your own. But you don’t want your blind spots to slow you down. Take your personal finances to the next level with the following tips:

  • Partner with a professional. Consider working with a financial advisor who can help you learn more about investing and introduce you to advanced financial planning strategies. You’ll benefit from the added expertise and perhaps find new opportunities that you didn’t know about.
  • ·Plan for your legacy. If you don’t already have an estate plan, now is the time to create one. You’ve done an excellent job of saving and growing your assets. An estate plan helps protect those assets after your death and provides your loved ones with a safety net and guidance.
  • Dive even deeper. Determine if there are other aspects of personal finance you’d like to know about and dig into them. Maybe you’re interested in real estate or alternative assets. Follow your interests and explore other ways to grow your wealth.

Perhaps you identify with one of these styles — or a combination of them.

Either way, learn more about how and why you engage with your finances and use that information to improve your habits.

Seeking personalized guidance? Make an appointment with a PNC specialist.