Money Motivation Matters

A Motivation and Communication Guide for Couples

It’s too bad “Money Motivation and Communication Guides” don’t come with every marriage certificate. I could have used one in my first marriage.

Whether it was my ex-husband’s pattern of “surprising” me with new puppies, cars, horses, or homes he wanted, or my secret shopping sprees at Nordstrom, honest communication about money was sadly missing from our conversations.

We did not understand how to communicate about – or leverage – our unconscious money motivations.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Enneagram reveals three money motivation categories that can help couples gain a new perspective about their relationships to money and to each other.

The “Bring It On!” Types ~ Enneagram 3, 7, 8

The theme song for these assertive types could be Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money!” Motivated to work hard in pursuit of money, these types will slow down long enough to sit with a financial planner only if it gets them one step closer to their goals of success, freedom, or control.

3 Achiever

Motivation: Money gives me worth and acceptance. I want to make good money so I can buy nice things, invest and grow rich – and so that others can see my success. I work very hard to provide for myself and my family. Investments and financial planning will become important once I’ve acquired the accoutrements of success.

Communication: Don’t expect me to trade in my BMW for a Kia just to save for retirement. However, if you can help me let my authentic heart – not my fear of unworthiness – guide my financial choices, I may find the peace and true prosperity I long for.

7 Enthusiast

Motivation: Money gives me freedom! I work hard for one reason: EXPERIENCES, baby. Anytime, anywhere. I work to travel and explore the world – on my terms.

Communication: Don’t expect to reduce my travel budget, no matter how much we’re saving for retirement. It’s what I live for. But do remind me to stop and smell the roses long enough to see that there truly is no place like home…

8 Challenger

Motivation: Money gives me safety and control. It allows me to be the master of my own fate. If I want a lot of money in the bank or in my retirement account, that’s where I will place my focus – and it will happen. If I want the biggest house on the block, I will get that as well. I will push through any obstacle to get what I want.

Communication: Don’t manipulate me about money or waste my time in front of a financial planner that just wants to sell me something to pad their own pocketbook. Instead, remind me that our financial future isn’t just on my shoulders and that I can relax, let go and let others take care of me, too.

The “Blasé” Types ~ Enneagram 4, 5, 9

The Beatles’ “Money Can’t Buy Me Love” is the theme song for these withdrawal types, who move away from others and the world – and the relentless pursuit of money – to understand who they are and what they want.

4 Individualist

Motivation: Money isn’t real. It’s an arbitrary construct about value and as such I use it in ways that bring true value to me: creating works of art, a beautiful home full of meaningful, unique objects, and authentic, deep relationships with those who see me for who I am.  

Communication: Don’t expect me to buy a cookie cutter house in a cookie cutter neighborhood, or stay at a job I hate just to make ends meet, or to NOT buy that expensive, one-of-a-kind painting which will forever remind me of the magic of the moment. Instead, remind me that at some point I have to join the financial planning club in order to be fully expressed and have the unique objects and experiences my heart longs for.

5 Investigator

Motivation: I can live in a trailer and sleep on the floor as long as I have the space and time to think, research, investigate, and innovate. I am motivated by mastery and strategy. If money comes with that, great. If not, as long as my basic needs are met, I’m good. 

Communication: If you can link my hunger for competence to financial planning and the ability to investigate and understand investments, then I may become the family expert and share my findings – and we both win.

9 Peacemaker

Motivation: I am motivated by peace and harmony, internally and externally. I am not interested in deep, disturbing conversations or fights about money. I am not that motivated to earn more. If it comes, and is in flow with my life and the deep connections I feel with my family, great. If not, I’ll get by with less. 

Communication: Be sure to talk to me ONLY when you are calm and not in fear about money. Please don’t ask for huge overhauls or for me to get a second or third job just so we can go to Hawaii for the holidays. If instead, we can make small, incremental changes over time that don’t disturb the peace, and help create harmony in the future, I’ll be happy.

The “Whatever You Say” Types ~ Enneagram 1, 2, 6

The “Whatever You Say” types seek external guidance, so their theme song is “Show Me the Way” by Peter Frampton. They want to follow a proven path to do right by themselves and others. Once they find it, they’ll follow it: budgeting, giving, and saving for a rainy day.

1 Reformer

Motivation: I am motivated by doing things right, by having integrity. What I love about money management is that it’s clear if you are in integrity or not. I have my budget, giving, saving and investing categories and I am continually working to improve our numbers.

Communication: I know it can be a challenge to communicate with me, because I believe already have the right answer – and it was NOT shopping at Costco when you were hungry last week! If you can help remind me that it’s ok to spend and make the occasional mistake, while letting me guide us in doing what’s right financially, we can move forward powerfully – and with integrity.

2 Helper

Motivation: I am motivated by love – I want to love everyone and be loved in return.  I’ve got a Ph.D. in Generosity. I am the one offering to pay for everyone’s drinks at Happy Hour and buying my kids EVERYTHING they want on their holiday lists.

Communication: You can start by telling me how much you love me and appreciate my generosity and track record of giving. And remind me that I am worthy of giving to myself. I am worth investing, saving, and spending on myself – and that I’m not selfish for doing so.

6 Loyalist

Motivation: I am motivated by security and support, so as you can imagine I am a natural at managing money, troubleshooting, and preparing for the future. I can see trouble a mile away and plan for it. I can’t help but save for that rainy day, because I know it’s coming!

Communication: I need you to create a space for my skepticism. It’s not that I’m a pessimist or just being negative. I need to doubt until there is no doubt. I poke holes in all of our financial plans in order to make sure they are secure. If you can let me do that, I will help us create a powerful, secure financial foundation.

Looking back through this money motivation guide, I am not surprised by the behaviors in my last marriage. My ex-husband and I are both “Bring It On!” types who found a way to get what we wanted, even if it meant a little manipulation or strong-arming.

My new husband and I have already begun using the wisdom of the Enneagram to create a financial life and future we both love.

My hope is that you and your partner can do the same.

To learn more about my work helping couples leverage their strengths and personalities to create a relationship they adore, please reach out. I’d love to connect!

To work with a financial planner that understands the Enneagram and how to apply money motivations to create your financial future, I encourage you to visit Team Duncan Financial.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us


I am interested in connecting with Lisa about: (please select all options that apply)*

I can be reached at:

Anything else you'd like Lisa to know?