We know that so many of our ideas about the way the world works come from our parents. Whether we choose to deliberately embody their values or shirk them entirely, their perspectives have a significant impact on how we show up in our daily lives—no matter how old we get.
That’s especially true when it comes to money. Since money is a factor in almost every aspect of our lives—from the homes we buy to our decisions to have children, the jobs we take, and so much more—it’s important to get to the bottom of where your current considerations about money truly come from, and whether they need some reevaluation. With that in mind, let’s dig in.
Think back to when you were a kid. Did your parents talk to you about money, or did the subject cause them to shut down? Were there any lessons the regularly imparted? Did they tell you that money was to be saved, rather than spent? Did they share their beliefs that hoarding cash prevents one from truly enjoying life? And, perhaps most important, were you given the opportunity to ask questions about what they shared—and what they didn’t?
Now, consider what you heard them say to each other about money. Were they fearful, dismissive, enthusiastic? Did they share similar attitudes about finances, or was it a point of contention in their relationship? How did they refer to each other’s spending habits? For example, maybe your mother spent money freely, while your father complained that he felt like a bank. When you think about their interactions around money, and whether you were more aligned with one parent than the other, you may find yourself with a plateful of food for thought.
With all that on the table, you can weigh your family’s money mindset against the money standards of the community or communities in which you grew up. Did your family’s standards align with those around you? If not, did the rest of the community let you know that you didn’t fit in—or did the differences slowly reveal themselves over time, or even in retrospect? Did the alignment or discrepancies affect your beliefs about money? How so?
Next, can you remember what money meant to you when you were young? How did you envision your ideal grown-up life? Did you picture a large home, nice cars, and a prestigious career? Did you see yourself somewhat detached from consumerism, traveling the world with a single pack on your shoulders and few worries? How does that image connect to your current experience?
Here’s yet another crucial question when it comes to unpacking your relationship to money and your parent’s influence on it: Is your reaction to your parents money attitudes the same as your authentic feelings about money and your life goals, or are they different? What work would you have to do to ensure your authentic feelings take precedence? It’s time to get started.