Do You Save Like an Optimist or Pessimist?

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Lauren Szeto
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This is Part 5 of the series Money on Your Mind, a blog series created to tell you exactly what you need to know about your brain and your spending habits in a straightforward, simple format.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Whether you are a “glass-half-full” or “glass-half-empty” person can actually tell you about your financial spending and saving habits.


Optimists tend to believe that their actions and behaviour will lead to positive outcomes. This mindset can both help save money, but also pose financial risk.


If you’re an optimist, you’ll tend to be more well-off than pessimists and follow healthier financial practices, like creating emergency funds. Optimists also tend to plan for major spending, as 90% of optimists allocate money for large purchases versus 70% of pessimists.

In the workforce, the statistics for optimists also look pleasing. Optimists are more likely candidates for promotions, which isn’t too surprising when you hear that they are less susceptible to burning out and 6 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.

Things to Consider

Optimists are more likely to invest, which shows trust in the market and an expectation of upward trends for stocks. Investing in stocks is always risky, as a return isn’t guaranteed. Even after losing value, optimists tend to still expect positive outcomes, which is similarly shown in gambling.

Similarly, optimists usually chose more risky credit plans assuming that they will always be able to fully pay off their balance. These usually include cards with a low annual fee and high APR, which can cause a snowball effect on debt if payments aren’t made on time.

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Pessimists tend to believe that their actions and behaviour will not change situations and will tend not to act in risky scenarios. Though this sounds cautious, this mindset has positives and negatives implications on saving money.


Even though optimists tend to fare better in the workplace, pessimistic entrepreneurs tend to earn more than optimistic entrepreneurs. In investing, pessimists tend to protect their money by saving rather than investing. This can be advantageous if markets do not reap the anticipated positive benefits that optimists often expect.

Though optimists are the ones known to take action to create positive outcomes, some pessimists will take action to minimize the aftermath of negative situations. These “defensive pessimists” feel like they can’t do anything to change the outcome, but can minimize the adverse effects that follow. Following this, they are more likely to purchase insurance plans.

Pessimists tend to choose less risky credit plans with a higher annual fee and lower APR, which is financially kinder on missed payments in events that most people never plan for, such as falling ill, home repairs, and job loss.

Things to Consider

Pessimists tend to be less open about discussing financial planning and management, as 53% of pessimists were found to be open to discussing finances with family and friends versus 76% of optimists. Additionally, only 33% of pessimists were eager to learn more about financial planning.

Compared to optimists, the idea of financial planning and management is more stressful to pessimists. The amount of time spent per year stressed about money is nearly double for pessimists compared to optimists.

Conclusion: Is Optimism or Pessimism Better?

Clearly, both optimism and pessimism have tendencies worth following and many of the upsides and downsides of these personality traits vary by person and circumstance. Knowing your disposition as an optimist or pessimist can help you be aware of your tendencies. Making sure you are planning appropriately, as well as choosing the right credit and investing plans regardless of your optimistic or pessimistic tendencies, is vital in your saving experience.

Regardless of whether you find yourself to be optimist or pessimistic, it is a good idea to analyze your tendencies of the present to ensure that you are engaging in smart financial behaviours. Having a trusted advisor, friend, or family member offer their advice can open your mind to new perspectives on financial planning and management.

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