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How Your Parents’ Money Habits Are Still Affecting You

We’re not just born with a spreadsheet and abacus in hand. We need someone to teach us money skills, and money mindset for that matter. What did you learn from your parents or guardians and which of those lessons is actually relevant and positive to you now?

Let me help get you thinking for a minute. Are you a budget maker? Do you find your life is guided by budgets and that you are in a position where you know your income and your outgoings; maybe you even have a different account set up for your direct debits, for your standard payments? Or are you more of a risk taker? This might mean you may not have a budget, but you are quite adventurous. You just see something and you go for it. You’re spontaneous. If you want something, you buy it. You don’t think twice as to whether that’s something that you can afford, whether it’s in your budget, whether it’s within your financial position to actually buy that.

Whatever your case is, did these beliefs and subsequent behaviours come from your parents or did it come from somewhere else? It could even have come from your grandparents or other family members, but think for a minute, what is your attitude toward everything in your life? What have your parents taught you? Does it serve you in your life today?

I speak to so many people whose beliefs around money have been negatively influenced by their upbringing, by maybe their parents, their grandparents, even by societal feelings and the economic climate, or by what you heard at school. It could be the other way around.

There was a period where, particularly from an economic point of view, we were encouraged to take out a lot of credit cards and that anything you wanted was possible. That there was this big boom of “money, money, money.” This took place during the late seventies and all through the eighties. Were you a young person then, and did that affect you positively or negatively? Were you an adult then and did you have a different set of eyes on it? The reason for asking you this question is our behaviours now tend to come from somewhere. I mean, where they actually come from in terms of the way people describe this is they come from your beliefs.

All this is to say that what you believe shapes what you value and what you value shapes what you believe, and your beliefs and your values shape your behaviour. Your behaviour shapes the outcome that you have in life because if your belief is that you can never be wealthy or find someone who will love you or do well at school or be successful, then the way that you behave will be with that set of glasses on. You won’t see opportunities. You won’t recognize when you’ve done well. You won’t attempt, explore, or even have a go at opportunities that are presented to you because you either fear failure or, ironically, you fear success.

I’ll just explain that for a moment. Some people refrain from doing things because they fear being successful or they deeply believe they can never be successful. And if they are successful at something that would so fundamentally affect everything that they believe about everything that, at an unconscious level, they won’t let their efforts go that far because they know it will fundamentally change everything in their life. You may have heard the term “self-sabotage,” well it comes from deep-set beliefs about what is possible and true. If you believe relationships can never work out because of your family history, you might find yourself sabotaging your relationships again and again, confirming your belief.

It can be quite shocking to some people to realize that the way they behave today at this minute are being unconsciously influenced by thoughts and experiences that they had 10, 20, 50 years ago. And if you are not aware of that, then you could be moving through life with blinkers on, or depending on the individual maybe even with no glasses on, and you can’t see a thing. As you move through life unaware that your actions, the opportunities that you see and the decisions that you make are all being influenced from something that happened years ago, how are you ever going to recognize why you are not getting the results that you want?

Now beliefs aren’t all bad. We learn positive and negative things from those who raised us. Let’s take for example, smoking. Let’s say a relative smoked, they got cancer, they died young. Perhaps that made you very anti-smoking. Refraining from smoking will likely improve the quality of your life, save you money and prevent an early death. Did your parents ever lose a house – was it repossessed? Were you ever, as a young child, forced to move home because your family couldn’t afford it? Odds are that history influences the way you think about money, maybe even relationships, and certainly about property.

So, you can start to see how things in the past can influence you. And all this self-reflection may get you thinking about the next generation, your children if you have them. And I would encourage you to think about the lessons you can transmit to your children or mentees, because fundamentally, whether we like to believe this or not, we need a smarter younger generation, and that can only come if we become a smarter generation ourselves.

We have (if you are of my generation, anyway) lived through quite a number of life experiences and gained knowledge about what works and what doesn’t. Younger people have their own body of knowledge, and for that reason exchanging among generations is so beneficial. There are so many opportunities to empower our children, students and junior colleagues to become smarter about all sorts of things. The practical things like technology, the important things like maths and history, but very important things like money and how it works and how we can use it as a tool in our lives and for our communities, families, and the world.

The younger generation’s work and contributions will be paying for pensions and moving the economy along. It’s going to be their work efforts and their taxes that keep the world moving, and functioning, and it’s going to play no small part in helping us as we get older. Some of us may need a lot of our children’s support as we get older, but while we’re on it and while we’re on that journey to make that change in our lives, let’s pop back and encourage the younger generation not to wait until they’re in their forties and fifties to learn the lessons that we may have waited to learn. They could be learning much sooner so that they can make better informed decisions over the long term.

If you are interested in learning more about examining your beliefs and creating a wealth plan, make sure you listen to my podcast A Wealthy Life, and look at the free resources I offer like the Readiness to Retire Wealthy Audit. You get to decide which lessons you put to use in your life. Make sure they serve you and your loved ones. For more impactful wealthy life tips, please visit my website, listen to my podcast here and here, or schedule a free call with me.