How Your Parents Affect Your Relationship with Money

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.

Millennial Money Report

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.


You Think Talking About Sex is Taboo? Let’s Talk About Money

Flashback several years ago to my last relationship. The guy I was dating at the time wasn’t open to discussing his “numbers.” Mind you, this was several years into our relationship. Although I disclosed how much I earned and saved, he was radio silent. Needless to say, it didn’t work out between us.

When it comes to talking about money: It’s no big secret: we’d much rather talk about sex and politics than money, according to an article in The Guardian. We despise being defined by our wealth—or our lack thereof. We’re also often taught that talking about money is a faux pas. In fact, 7 out of 10 people think talking about money is rude.

Taking a step back, it’s no surprise that we don’t want to talk about money—a cause of stress for many people. In fact, 90% of Americans are stressed out about money, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. Add to this that saving money is hard and many people don’t even have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency Why would they want to discuss finances?

Yet, in order to break through the money taboo, it’s important to learn how to openly talk about money matters. Here are some tips to break the ice when it comes to discussing money with your significant other or spouse.

Get financially naked

We all have different money values. In fact, your perceptions about money were likely formed when you were young. And, since you were raised differently than your partner, you may even have polar opposite money values. For example, you may have the “scarcity mindset,” in which money is hard to come by. This means you may be a penny pincher. Your partner, on the other hand, may be prone to emotional spending and find it challenging to save money.

Regardless of your different relationships to money, it’s important for you and your significant other to get “financially naked” when it comes to talking about money, according to Time Magazine. Financial infidelity, or hiding your financial matters from your partner, can ruin your relationship.

You can start making money discussions fun by setting up a monthly date. You can keep it casual and perhaps schedule it after a relaxing night after a homecooked meal. Topics you’ll want to discuss may include your net worth or outstanding debts, your short- and long-term money goals, creating a budget, and whether you should have a joint bank account. You can also use this time to discuss future job changes and general concerns you have about your finances.

Keep in mind that if you are cohabiting or engaged, it’s important to get your money matters out in the open before you make any major life changes, like uprooting to a new city, getting married, merging investments or raising kids. By starting now, you can lay the foundation for building a life together.


You Think Talking About Sex is Taboo? Let’s Talk About Money


Talk about your pain points

When it comes to money, it’s no surprise that many turn to personal finance forums on Reddit and Quora. These channels offer a virtual space where you can disclose details about your financial situation and remain anonymous. Although it seems uncomfortable, why not instead discuss these topics with people you know?

I know it seems strange, but sometimes being the first in a group to disclose your money matters can pave the way for others to do the same. This way, you can all support and help each other achieve your financial goals. For instance, I am usually the first one in my circle of friends to discuss my savings goals and the financial resources I’ve stumbled upon. I’m also not afraid to talk about my biggest challenges.

If you don’t want to talk about anything big, start by discussing a small win, like how you saved money at the grocery store last week or earmarked some of your bonus toward your summer vacay. By doing this, you’ll let your social circle know that “hey, I’m comfortable talking about money, and you’re welcome to do it, too.” My friends and I now talk freely about saving for retirement. I also receive texts when someone made a final car payment or paid off his student loan.

Going beyond your immediate social circle, it’s also a good idea to practice discussing money with family members or roomies. This will make it easier to broach topics like splitting a dinner tab or dividing up household bills.

Know your worth

Knowing your worth in the working world and asking for greater compensation is a crucial part of climbing the corporate ladder. When you know the value you’re contributing to the job, and just what it takes to level up to the next rung, you can feel confident asking for a raise. While it still remains taboo to ask your co-workers what they earn, you can still discuss this with your boss. This way you’ll have a better idea of what it takes to earn more, and what it takes to perform to move up the pay scale.
Likewise, in order to net higher rates as a freelancer, it’s important to know what others earn so that you can effectively raise your own rates. As a self-employed writer, rates vary and it can be challenging to determine how much to charge clients. To help me out, I often reach out to other freelancers to talk about what rates I should charge a client.

Regardless of how you decide to get your money matters out in the open, keep in mind that money is a tool. That is, money is a resource to help you achieve your goals so that you can live your preferred lifestyle. By openly discussing money, you’ll be more apt to align your money goals with your values. And that, my friends, is the sweet meat of having heart-to-heart discussions about money.