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Examining How Your History Affects Your Financial Attitudes

Early messages you got from your parents about money influence how you manage your money today. By reflecting on the messages you received and how they may be impacting your money-management decisions today, you can take steps to manage your money better. Your parents or primary caregivers may have been somewhat secretive about their personal financial situation; however, what they said and how they acted can reveal a lot.

The following statements help you reveal your financial history. Check off each statement that you heard (or anything darn close to it) from a parent or primary caregiver growing up:

  • Money burns a hole in my pocket.

  • Live for today. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

  • Don’t carry cash. You’ll either spend it, or someone will clunk you over the head and take it.

  • If you want something, you have to work very hard to get it.

  • You’ll never amount to anything.

  • It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

  • If you want something, you must be willing to sacrifice.

  • You don’t appreciate how hard I work to put food on the table.

  • If you can’t afford to pay cash for something, you shouldn’t buy it.

  • Neither a lender nor borrower be.

  • You can accomplish anything you desire in life.

  • Women don’t make as much money as men do.

  • Invest in yourself.

  • Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

  • Your mother or father can’t manage money.

  • Your mother or father hides or lies about purchases.

  • The rich get richer on the backs of working class people like us.

  • I can’t afford to pursue the career of my dreams.

  • If we would have only waited longer before having kids. . .

  • Save it for a rainy day.

Read through the statements that you checked off and spend a few minutes reflecting on the messages you heard as a child and how these messages may have affected your current attitudes and feelings about money. Ask yourself the following questions about each of your parents or primary caregivers.

  • Were they spenders or savers? Do you know?

  • Did they talk about money around you?

  • Did they fight about money?

  • What lessons did you learn about money from them?

Some people are hoarders, and others are over-spenders. Being extreme — on either end of the spectrum — isn’t healthy. Balance is the key. You can’t spend everything today, or you won’t have anything for tomorrow. You also shouldn’t put off everything you’d like to do until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. Finding the appropriate balance with your time, energy, and money will lead to the best outcome.

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