You may not recognize a connection between your parents’ financial habits and the way you manage money as an adult, but the apple often doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Your parents were tightwads
Frugality is about balance. If your parents didn’t strike a healthy balance and were overly frugal when you were a child, you may have developed a pattern of overspending and impulse shopping later in life.
Even if your needs were meant as a kid, maybe you felt deprived because your parents didn’t or couldn’t provide your wants. Either way, you might spend your adult years overcompensating for what you feel you lacked as a child. Rather than save your money, you spend it as soon as you get it.
Now that you’re older, it’s important to find a healthy balance between being frugal and frivolous. Be realistic when it comes to your money and stick to a budget. It’s OK to splurge and enjoy your income, but not if it means going into debt and sacrificing your savings account.
You were spoiled as a child
Whether you were rich or middle class, if you always got what you wanted materially and the word ‘no’ wasn’t in your parents’ vocabulary, you might grow up thinking you’re entitled to everything.
As a kid, you probably didn’t see anything wrong with instant gratification and being spoiled by your parents. But the desire to have what you want, when you want it, can follow you into adulthood. And when your parents stop paying your way, you might do whatever it takes to get what you want, even if it means using a credit card and digging a financial hole for yourself. This sets the stage for debt and begins the vicious cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Money wasn’t discussed in your house
Some parents feel like money is an “adult” topic, so they don’t discuss finances in front of their children. The main problem with this type of upbringing is that when some parents take money topics completely off the table, they forget to teach their kids the basics of money management. These kids grow up knowing nothing about money, and they become adults who overspend and overcharge.
Just because money was a taboo topic in your house doesn’t mean you have to live in the dark. After reaching a certain age, it’s your responsibility to learn about money, debt and credit. If you don’t know much about personal finances, there are resources available to educate you like reputable financial websites and blogs, or you can work with a financial advisor.
Your parents were financially insecure
If a neighbor purchased a new car, did your parents have to buy one? Or if a neighbor updated his house or went on vacation, did your parents feel the need to outshine them? Some people feel they have to stay a step ahead of everyone. If you observed this behavior growing up, this attitude might rub off on you, to the point where you remain in constant competition with your friends.
There’s a cost to keeping up appearances, and materialism and jealousy can be financially devastating, especially when you’re living a life beyond your means. There’s always going to be something better and bigger than what you have, and some of your friends and colleagues will have more than you materially. You’ll drive yourself crazy – and broke – trying to keep up. It’s OK to desire nice things, but consider your motive. Are you buying an item because you like and need it, or because you want to prove you can hang with big spenders?
You didn’t get everything you wanted
It was probably upsetting as child when your parents didn’t give into your every command or request. Maybe your friends didn’t have to do extra chores or save their allowance for a new toy or a new pair of shoes, but you did. Or perhaps your father’s favorite phrase was, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Rather than your parents buying your first car for you, maybe you had to get a job and pay half the cost while they paid the other half. Back then you thought your parents were being harsh, but you should thank them for instilling financial values.
Learning about money, budgeting and saving isn’t always fun at an early age. But these lessons (no matter how small) can pave the way for a stronger financial foundation. This upbringing can teach you to be more cautious with money and to think before you buy, which means less debt and more savings.