Money Lessons Learned Growing Up

Money lessons learned growing up: regardless of your financial story, you can plan and take action for a successful financial future.

We’ve all had money lessons learned while growing up that stick with us. Think of the well-known phrase “money doesn’t grow on trees”-what do you think of when you hear that? This is a common answer from an adult to a child when a new toy is requested, a grand vacation destination expressed, or a new Starter jacket from your crush’s favorite football team is on your Christmas list.

Please tell me I wasn’t the only one that had a Starter jacket on her Christmas list…

If I asked you what your experience with money was growing up, what would you say?

I have actually asked this question dozens of times to new clients, and of course get varied responses – but there are two common themes. 

Overwhelmingly, regardless of age – we were not openly taught how to handle money.  Not at school, not at home, and not even in higher education.

Often, the extent of our money management teaching was how to write a check properly in Home Economics class.  We may have opened a savings account at a local bank with our parents, but anything more ‘advanced’ (like how to manage our teenage fast food paychecks outside of buying our own gas and entertainment) was very limited.

Our parents’ finances were not common discussions around the dinner table; they were most often labeled as ‘grown up’ talk, and frankly, none of our business.  

We were aware of how our parents handled money for the most part, and sometimes not putting all of those things together until a later age – but certainly aware.

Whether there were purchases of a lot of “things”, frequent witnessing of arguments over money, or acute awareness of buying second hand school clothes – we were in the know, and it made an impact on how we began to handle money ourselves when we had the freedom to do so.

Often, our responses came in one of two ways.

  1. Shrug. Follow suit.

Perhaps you were someone that did as they were told or showed, and simply followed suit because you knew no different.  Maybe this was a good thing for you, and you started out your adult life with great money habits.  However, most people have picked up some of the same poor habits of their parents and found themselves in the same scenarios.  Frustrated.  Stressed out.  Fighting over money.  Ugh.

  1. Rebel. Run the other way.

Maybe you wanted to do the opposite of your family! Again, this could be running towards something better. You no longer want to live paycheck to paycheck, and you decide to do something different early on.  Or, maybe it’s rebelling against the hand me down clothes and going brand new on all the things just because you can sign up for your own credit card and loan payments.

So, why do I ask this question about growing up with money? 

When you understand and make connections with your money lessons learned growing up, it can help you create a better path for your future. 

Therefore, awareness is key my friend, and acknowledging something that went well (or didn’t) can lead to some healing and intention moving forward.

What do you want to do differently now?

What money lessons do you wish you would have learned growing up? Have you learned that now?

If so – start teaching your kids about it!  No time like the present. If not – get educated about that, so that you can move forward.  Again, no time like the present.

After all, more is caught than taught, or actions speak louder than words, are common phrases tossed around that speak to the idea that our behaviors are more meaningful than our words.

So, how do you demonstrate good money management to your kids, or others around you?  What are some of those actions that can be caught?

Talk about money at home.

First, make big purchases with serious, open consideration around the dinner table, in the car, and wherever else you find yourself with your family.  Talk about the options you’re considering, the price point, what that means for your finances, and more.  Make money talk normal.  Discuss value, and payoff.  Talk timelines and alternatives.  Ask for feedback.  That’s right, engage your kids in the discussion.  They don’t necessarily get a vote, but involving them in the matter is going to be impactful-I promise.

Make a family money goal.

For example, is your family due for a vacation, and that’s top of the list this year?  Are you saving for a new car?  If so, you want to have a family money goal that you can discuss, look forward to, and keep visible awareness of your progress.  Dream a little together to get started.  What does that vacation look like?  How much do you want to spend?  What’s each family member’s #1 activity or ‘must have’ on a new family ride?  Get input and buy in – then get to work discussing your progress on a regular basis.  If you have to say no to an impulse purchase – point it back to your big goal.

Don’t keep the bills a secret.

Heck, let them open the bills for you.  What’s the cost of the trash bill? Pretty eye opening that it costs that much to throw away stuff-am I right?!  Check out the mortgage payment – it’s a biggie.  That’s how much we pay each month for our house.  Let them look over your shoulder as you pay the bills and make your monthly budget and reconcile how much you spent. If you need help getting started with your budget (as well as actually sticking with it), make sure to check out my budget video training here!

Value hard work.

Demonstrate a strong work ethic.  Showcase that the way to get money (and often more of it) is by working hard, advocating for your hard work, and achieving more.  Get a raise at work?  Talk about how you made that happen.  Take on more clients?  Discuss the process and what it means for your money goals.  Let them work hard for some coin too!  Have a few tasks that they can help out with around the house?  Assign them a few chores, and pay out when they are completed.

Practice patience with your purchases.

Lastly, demonstrate what it looks like to wait on something that you want.  Your kids are going to get hounded to sign up for their first credit card when they turn 18, and they’re going to be tempted to get a few things that they want right now – because they can.  However, if you can demonstrate what patience looks like in your purchases as they grow up, the ‘waiting and saving’ for what they want will be normalized. Most likely, the desire to swipe and incur a whole lot of credit debt will be much less attractive!

The money lessons you learned growing up are only part of your financial story.  What you do with those now is most important as you make plans for your future.

Now, go water that money tree!

Thank you for joining me on my my journey to influence.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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8 thoughts on “Money Lessons Learned Growing Up”

  1. Annemarie Ketterman

    I definitely didn’t learn good money habits growing up and am planning on changing that with my own kids. Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Sarah VanHoose

      That’s exactly the right mindset. So…that happened. Now, what can we do next? Help our kids have a different story!

  2. I’m so glad I found you now. You have such amazing advice and insight! Money talk was such taboo when I was growing up, and that didn’t do me any favors!!

    1. Sarah VanHoose

      You made my heart go pitter patter! Thank you. It’s amazing how much we have in common, yet can be so different.

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