Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Your parents' attitude about money affects you

SAN DIEGO (1/16/08)--How your parents handled money has a lot to do with how you deal with your own finances, according to Ginita Wall, CPA and co-founder of the Women's Institute for Financial Education (

Wall cites some not-so-healthy attitudes about money you might be passing on to your own children:
  • Money is love. If parents use money as a way of expressing love (such as extravagant gift-giving or overly generous allowances) rather than using actions and words, children make a connection between money and love. Wall's advice is to try to treat money as a commodity, like food in your refrigerator. Some will be used today, some saved for later. Just because it's there doesn't mean you have to use it all at once.
  • It's not "polite" to talk about money. This is a message many people, especially women, heard growing up. Kids need to be educated about the value of money, including how to save and invest. Make money a topic of family conversation--form a family investment club, or research and invest in stocks that are kid-friendly.
  • Money translates to control. Did you grow up in a family where money was controlled by your parents and you had little to say about how and where it was spent? Or did one parent use money to control the other? Children react to what they see their parents do and say. If you alternate between spending on them and saying "we can't afford it," they'll get a mixed message they don't understand. Wall recommends setting aside some money each month to spend on your children and giving them the opportunity to figure out how it should be spent. They'll become savvy consumers who know how to weigh the cost and benefit of future purchases.
  • Money is a form of reward. If you use money to reward good behavior, kids may not grow up feeling self-fulfilled. They'll look for the person who will reward them with money so they can feel self worth. They will reward or punish themselves by spending or not spending ... and that can create spending disorders and unmanageable debt. Rather, teach children that money is neither good nor evil. Set a savings target, and make the rest available to spend. Good money management takes discipline, but also provides pleasure. Money itself should not be a goal.

For more information, read, "Credit/Debit Cards, Checking Accounts, Teach Teenagers to Handle Money" in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

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