Three Money Lessons I Learned From My Parents

I don’t think we can often appreciate everything that happens to us growing up as a child.   We know that our formative years can very much outline and shape the way we think and act as an adult.    We know that in some households money never gets discussed with the kids and in others there are detailed discussions about how to create a household budget.    These money lessons we learn as kids have a much deeper meaning in how we think about money than we can ever know in our adult years.   Here are three money lessons I learned as a kid and how they shaped my thinking around handling my family finances today.

  • LESSON – Credit Card Debt –  My father unfortunately enjoyed buying things before he earned them.    He spent a great deal of money on credit cards for vacations, sporting event tickets, and his hobbies such as stamp collecting.    While I never knew for many years that he used these credit cards to purchase these items, I learned when he passed away that he had racked up an incredible amount of credit card debt from these discretionary purchases.   This lesson made me commit myself to NEVER carrying a credit card balance.  Especially if it is around afford extra fun items when they are not affordable.
  • LESSON – No New Cars – Every three to four years, my mother and father would go out an purchase a brand new car.   My father loved getting a new car.   As a kid, you don’t really think about things like depreciation and how a new car is one of the worst financial assets to spend money on unless you want to guarantee yourself that you’ll lose money.    No matter how good the car may make you feel, it cannot add to your bottom line.   Thus, years later in my own finances I will only purchase automobiles that are two to three years old.  I could easily afford to buy a new car for cash, but I know the better financial decision is to let the basic wear and tear take place before I purchase the car.
  • LESSON – Allowances – This is a real interesting one because I actually got an allowance in my household for doing the handful of chores that were assigned to me.   It began as a few bucks per week and got up to $10 a week when I was in high school.  However, I remember weeks where I really didn’t do all the chores and my parents would still give me money if I needed it despite the fact that the chores were not completed.   As a family, we decided that for our kids there would be no allowance.   Chores were expected responsibilities with all family members and you don’t get paid to do what is expected of you.    People have varying views on this, but we don’t pay for chores or grades as both of us learned as kids that this may not be the best incentive award.

What money lessons did you learn from your parents growing up as a kid?

  • Did you get an allowance?
  • Did your parents pay for all of your college education or pay nothing at all?
  • Were there money arguments between your parents?
  • Did you get many gifts during your birthday or very few gifts?
  • How were parties handled in your household?
  • Did you pay for your first car?
  • What was a typically dining out experience?

All of these questions and more have shaped the way you will handle your money and potentially how you go about doing what you do for your kids.  It’s amazing that money lessons often create a reverse psychology in you as a grown adult.   It’s the age old, “I don’t want to do what my parents did to me” attitude that we can carry within us whether it comes to spending money on vacations, eating out, or our children.    Just remember that kids pick up everything and the way you talk about money in your household will have a big impact in the way your kids handle their money in the future.   The lessons I learned both good and bad have greatly shaped my attitude toward money decisions today.    What money lesions did you learn in your household growing up as a kid?

Written by:

Ted Jenkin
CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Editor in Chief of Your Smart Money Moves
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc –

The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services
Ted Jenkin  is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y Generation.

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Ted Jenkin @ Your Smart Money Moves

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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.

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4 Comments

  • EL
    January 23, 2013

    This post was interesting; it gives a personal side to what we can take away from your childhood money lessons. The first two lessons are much in line with common values for money conscious people, but the third one is controversial. How can you teach money lessons to the kids, if they cannot implement it with actual cash? Birthday money and Christmas money is probably not enough to instill money management lessons.

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