The way your parents handle money had a big influence on the way you handle your own finances. If they modeled good financial behavior, then you were given an invaluable gift. However, there are many common beliefs and attitudes that you may be unaware of that can negatively influence the way you manage your own finances.
If you have children, it’s particularly important to recognize any unhealthy money beliefs you may have been taught so you don’t continue passing them on to the next generation. Here are a few:
- Money is love. If parents use money as a way of expressing love, like giving extravagant gifts or allowances, instead of using actions and words, children will believe money equals love. There are many ways to show your love, like a hug, praise, or even just giving your child your attention and listening to them, so use those methods first.
- It’s not “polite” to talk about money. This is a message many people heard growing up. Kids need to be educated about the value of money, including how to save and invest. Make money a topic of family conversation—talk about financial goals, like saving up for a new home or a family vacation. Tell them about your budget and help them understand why it’s important to spend within your means.
- Money translates to control. Did you grow up in a household where one parent used money to control the other? Or where you had little to say about how and where the money was spent? In your own family, set aside some money each month to spend on your children and give them the opportunity to figure out how it should be spent. This will teach them how to weigh the cost and benefit of purchases.
- Money is a form of reward. If you use money to reward good behavior, kids may not grow up feeling self-fulfilled; they won’t feel proud and satisfied simply because they’ve done something well. Instead, they may reward themselves by spending…and that can create spending disorders and unmanageable debt.
You are your child’s primary teacher. What you say and do, the good and the bad, can stay with them their whole life. So, examine your beliefs about money, fix any unhealthy ones and pass along good financial behavior to your children.