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Being Nice Will Empty Your Pockets - Money Psychology 
Being Nice Will Empty Your Pockets - Money Psychology 
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Money Psychology

Being Nice Will Empty Your Pockets - Money Psychology 

Eddy Mwanza
September 14, 2022

You are enjoying a night out with your friends, the wide-smiled waiter comes over with the bill and you quickly jump at the opportunity to settle it.

‘I’ve got this you say,’ despite knowing that back home your token meter has been wailing like an ambulance siren for the last couple of days. But you are a nice guy and everyone likes you. Your friends thank you for the gesture and you grab a matatu back to your wailing studio apartment.

One of your friends calls you up and asks for a soft loan, not much, just Ksh5,000 or Ksh10,000 refundable in 4 weeks. 

‘No problem,’ you say, despite knowing very well that taking out Ksh5,000/Ksh10,000 from your pool of funds means you’ll have to switch your diet from chicken to chicken feed for the next month. But you are a nice guy and everyone likes you, right?

Well, according to research data, everyone likes the nice guy except the nice guy’s pocket.

Nice Guys Never Get The ‘Girl’

Forget all the cultural norms that often teach the value that being nice will get you further in life as contrasted to being mean. When it comes to personal finance, this rule doesn’t seem to apply

According to Columbia Business School research, those who describe themselves as ‘agreeable’ are strongly connected to a bleak financial future consisting of lower savings, high debt, and a higher likelihood of becoming financially insolvent somewhere down the line.

In the study titled Why and When Nice Guys Finish Last, by Professor Sandra Matz ( Columbia Business School) and Professor Joe Gladstone (University College London), nice guys are at greater risk of bankruptcy and financial hardships.

They go on to explain that one of the reasons is that agreeable individuals consider money to be less important than others.

This is particularly true for those who begin with less money because they lack a safety net to cover their personal spending habits. Unfortunately, in the world of business and finances, having a pleasant and warm personality could lead to real financial costs.

For example, agreeable people (nice guys) are more prone to taking on financial burdens that might come back to haunt them, like co-signing loans for friends or family members.

Read Also: The Dangers of Co-signing a Loan in your 30s

Traits of Nice People 

Following the findings, it is important to know the traits that are linked to nice guys and what this could mean when linked to personal finance.

Knowledge is also important so that one can easily identify any such trait within themselves and find a way to harness it for their good.


It goes without saying that nice guys in the context of this article are agreeable people who are allergic to the word ‘no’.

They are always available for family and friends, often at their expense both financially and psychologically.

For some reason, they always feel like they have to be a less-satisfied version of themselves to be loved and accepted.


It is good to be there for loved ones, however, there’s a thin line between being there and emptying your own accounts to help a friend. In this case, establishing boundaries and being positively selfish is highly advised.

Read Also: How to Diplomatically Say No to Money Requests From Friends and Family 

Conflict Averse

Nice guys detest any form of conflict and will actively look to avoid it in any way they can.

According to Dr. Robert Glover in his book No More Mr. Nice Guy, this particular group of individuals tends to recoil into victimhood mode when faced with any kind of challenge.

To avoid the internal conflict welling within, they find anyone or anything to blame. If they are running short on money due to impulse spending or not budgeting, they could shift the blame to the government, the general election, or their MCA you name it. 

Just anything really as long as the accusatory finger isn’t pointing inwards.

When confronted head-on with harsh truths or financial realities, they may put up walls if they are unable to cope in other ways. Addictions, humor, sarcasm, intellectualism, perfectionism, or isolation are just a few examples of these barriers or walls that they use to hide and avoid hard conversations.

Read Also: How Financial Denial is Making You Poor – Money Psychology


Learning to embrace their fate and concentrate on what they can control would be a good start. Facing challenges and conflicts head-on is the only way to overcome them according to psychologists. 

As for money challenges, a personal audit aimed at identifying where one’s money is ‘disappearing’ and making necessary adjustments would be a good place to start.

Read Also: How to Do a Complete Financial Self-Audit

Addicted to Approval

Nice guys are obsessed with fitting in and being accepted as members of any given pack; be it family or a close circle of friends.

They could then put their entire savings on the line just to feel as though they are finally accepted as a member of the pack. 

This could manifest in something as simple as taking on financial burdens they know they can’t afford eg Ksh30k a month chamas or footing bills they know they shouldn’t.

They care about how they appear and whether they are acting "properly" because they long for approval from others.

Nice guys often use attachments to seek approval. For example, a Nice Guy may have a cool car or nice shoes. But despite what they may think, nobody cares about his car or his shoes.


Focus on self. It is as simple as that when you think about it critically. 

According to psychologists, being a nice guy is a misguided coping mechanism that forms during childhood. Therefore one can understand better coping mechanisms, it's important to understand the origins of these tendencies.

Identify & Understand Your Money Personality Type

From the traits explained above, it is important to identify and understand your money personality type lest you fall down the Mr. nice guy sinkhole.

Understanding your money personality type will help shape your approach to spending, saving, and investing.

The five common money personalities are investors, savers, big spenders, debtors, and shoppers, and they are explained in detail here.

Get to know yours and work on ways to make it work for you as you journey towards your personal financial goals.

Read Also: Money Mindset Shifts That Pay Off - Money Psychology

How to Know if You're Too Nice for Your Own Good 

As for Mr nice guy, here are 3 things you could quickly look into to find out if you fall under this bracket;

  • Pay attention to how many times you say yes.
  • Make a list of how often you take on other people’s problems for them. 
  • Reflect on how often you apologize.

According to experts, if you rank highly in all three, it could be time to take a step back and focus on yourself and your own goals


It is important to note that agreeableness does not translate to financial doom all the time. It just makes things more difficult, particularly for people with lower incomes. Not every agreeable person is at equal risk of experiencing financial hardship. 

A 2021 study by the University College London found that nice guys make for better partners in relationships. 

“In hunter-gatherer societies, those who hunt successfully and are also willing to share the spoils with others form more profitable relationships than those who are successful but do not share.” Reads and excerpt from the study.

I guess the nice guy gets the girl after all.

Eddy Mwanza is Creative Consultant living and working in Nairobi, Kenya. His areas of focus are Content Creation, Creative Writing, Research and Photography. When he is not writing in his favorite coffee shop, Eddy spends most of his time reading, cooking, and traveling. He is also a sports fanatic. Connect with Eddy on LinkedIn.

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