How Our Childhood Money Memories Impact Our Spending Habits Today

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What is your first memory about money?

Maybe it’s the sense of pride from earning money for yourself for the first time, your first job, or the excitement of an allowance. It could be the thrill of spending a hard-earned dollar on something at the gas station or the stress of parents fighting over finances.

Not just your first memory, but the entirety of financial experiences from our formative years can influence our “money scripts.” The story about money that we internalize can have a profound effect on our decisions and priorities as adults – whether we know it or not!

Types of Money Scripts

Broadly speaking, there are four types of money scripts:

  1. Money Status: In short, net worth = self-worth. If I’m a good person, I’ll be financially set.
  1. Money Worship: The key to all of my problems? More money. I tend to spend – and give – recklessly.
  1. Money Vigilance: I am always monitoring my spending and saving. I usually make good financial choices but am often plagued by insecurity.
  2. Money Avoidance: Wealth is not something to be admired, but to be ashamed of. I believe money is inherently bad.

All of us have bits and pieces of these scripts within us,  and each of these scripts comes with different strengths and weaknesses.

However, with a little bit of work, we can uncover our money scripts and improve our relationship with money. Try one of the following:

  1. Sit down and write down a few of the “money stories” you were told growing up. What money stories do you tell your kids or loved ones?
  2. Talk with someone who knows you well – a spouse or a sibling, for example – about money scripts and share stories with each other. What do they see in you, and what do you see in them?

Talk to your financial advisor. We’re here to listen. We devote time to understanding who you are and what is important to you and your family. Our clients often say this is the best conversation about money they have ever had.