We all have money attitudes of one nature or another. You may have heard your parents say over and over “don’t ask for things; you should be grateful for what you get”. Guilty words like this may discourage you from ever seeking a promotion at work. Or “if you are a good person and do what’s right, money will take care of itself”. Sometimes care givers dangerously assume that somehow their money challenges will work out because they have given so much to the world. Often sayings like these were meant to apply to a particular situation, but they become ingrained in our conscience as a guiding principle to live by.
Although we all have money attitudes, we may have no clue as to what they are. They’ve become part of us as we’ve walked through life, experiencing and digesting events.
One Family – 4 Different Money Attitudes
Kids learn basics about money at a pretty early age. At 6 they can grasp the concept of allowance. At 8 they learn the cost of things. At 12 they have the capacity to learn how to spend wisely.
I’m the eldest of 4 siblings and the age difference with the youngest is 7 years. When I was 7 my father left his company and struck out on his own. We went through 5 very lean years. My mother returned to work when my brother went to kindergarten. And then Dad began to earn more, so we moved to a wealthier neighborhood 8 years later.
From 8 to 15, key money learning years, I developed a preoccupation with money because it was often a worry topic with my parents. I also learned how precious a dollar was and became a really good saver. For my brother, he went from 0 to 8 during the same period and missed the leaner years. Although he is cautious about his money, he is also more status focused – collecting very expensive antiques. My sisters have different variations of money attitudes between the two of us. None of us are the same.
Why Your Money Attitude Matters
Let's say money means status to you. You will use money to collect and experience the same things as the social group you value - like brands and vacations. This group may be the next level at your company, or the social group in your neighborhood. You will spend a lot of money on “wants” rather than what you may truly “need”. If money means survival, you may save for the sake of saving. You will save for that rainy day, and may never spend money on just enjoying life.
It’s important to understand what money means to you because it forms a frame of reference in your life. It will influence how you make certain decisions and how you behave with your money. Your attitudes can also sabotage your efforts to save more.
Related Topic: 8 Questions Defining Money Obsession
Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Behavioral Cents, LLC and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.
Carrie Rattle is Founder of BehavioralCents, LLC. She helps smart women build money confidence by changing their money practices for the better. Women are then empowered to make wise money decisions. As a veteran of financial services, Carrie sees a significant gap where too many experts tell people what they "should" do instead of actually helping them fit saving practices into their everyday lives. Thoughts always welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.