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How Your Parents Affect Your Relationship with Money

By Melanie Lockert
April 8, 2017

Like it or not, you have a particular relationship with money. This relationship was formed while you were growing up – in part by values instilled in you by your parents. By the time you reached adulthood, you had a concrete set of ideas about money that weren’t quite your own.

In order to make your relationship with money, well, your own, it’s key to take a closer look at how your parents continue to affect your financial decisions. From there, you’ll be in a better place to make changes, create new habits, and take money matters into your own hands.

What’s Your Family Money Story?

Your Family Money Story shapes the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors you bring to your financial life, says Financial Therapist Amanda Clayman.

To further explain, Clayman breaks down the Family Money Story as events, messages, feelings, and meaning. These make up your experiences surrounding money, as well as the beliefs and feelings surrounding what your parents said (or didn’t say) about money. These experiences can create patterns or a set of beliefs that affect your relationship with money in one of two ways:

  • You repeat it
  • Or you reject it

“If you found your parents’ frugal view that “There’s never enough money,” to be restrictive, you might take the opposite, “Money is meant to be enjoyed,” point of view,” she explains.

Common money issues

There’s no doubt your parents can affect your relationship with money. The good news? You’re not alone. Here are some common situations that might ring true for you:

Situation #1: Money was tight growing up

When you were growing up, was money tight? If so, you might have been told “no” many times when asking for something new or perhaps you were frequently reminded that “money doesn’t grow on trees.” If this sounds like your childhood, you may now have frugal habits that can help you rock your savings goals.

On the other hand, you could be dealing with a scarcity mindset when it comes to money. A scarcity mindset around money is characterized by the feeling that there’s never enough. You might be fearful of money — and the lack thereof, causing undue emotional stress.

Situation #2: You got everything you wanted

As a child, maybe your parents doted on you and bought you anything you wanted. While having the latest and greatest toys and technology was awesome while you were a kid, this can lead to unrealistic expectations now that you’re an adult. For example, although your parents afforded you with a certain lifestyle (or relied on credit), you might not have the tools or the money knowledge to maintain a similar lifestyle on your own.

Situation #3: Your parents had a natural distrust of money

Were your parents naturally distrustful about money? Did you hear things like “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” or “Never trust the stock market”? Did your parents hide their cash under the mattress instead of depositing it into a bank account because they thought this was safer? All of these situations can seep into your consciousness and make you distrustful of money and financial institutions, too.

How technology can transform your relationship with money

Now that you have a better idea of why you feel the way you do about money, it’s important to note: You are not your parents. It’s a new era and things are different now than when your parents were coming of age. Growing up with technology certainly changes the way you live your life. It also changes the way you think about and manage your money.

Although millennials get a bad rap for being entitled and tech-obsessed, you can turn this on its head as technology can help you create good financial habits.

For example, mobile banking apps give you access to your money 24/7. That’s not a luxury your parents had growing up. You can effortlessly check your balance or review your spending. Better yet, managing your money doesn’t have to be a chore. For example, you can automate your savings and put your spare change to work to build your rainy day fund. In fact, if you’re a Chime member, the bank account will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit this amount into your savings account. In other words, your small change can make a big impact on your savings.

As you can see, even if you picked up some good and bad habits from the ‘rents, you have far more access to information than they did. Now is the time to take charge of your relationship to money and be in the driver’s seat of your own financial journey.

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