Your parents taught you a lot more about money than they or you might realize. It’s important to understand that. Why? Because what you learned from them is the foundation for most of the financial decisions you make today.
My parents never said a word to me about money. But they gave me the equivalent of a PhD in personal finance. My father worked very hard and was a terrific sales person. He always tried to do his best.
But he made risky investment and business decisions that later cost us everything. And I mean everything. By their 40’s, my parents hadn’t done any planning. They didn’t have a will or trust or much life insurance. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem. But they both died in their early 40s. The confluence of financial decisions they made and failed to make had a catastrophic impact on me and my three siblings. We were dispersed and almost penniless. What happened to our family was the polar opposite of what my parents wanted. Do you think this influenced my financial and career decisions? You better believe it.
This experience made what I do and how I do it a forgone conclusion. I saw the result of no planning and bad risk management and I didn’t want any part of it. I dedicated my personal and professional life to making sure that kind of havoc wasn’t going to be part of my future or that of the people I work with.
My folks didn’t have to talk about money. They taught me lessons I carry with me to this day by their actions. Granted, some have served me well. But others have been a heavy burden. I had to work hard to stop living in financial fear. And I still fight the compulsion to overwork.
This is precisely why it’s so important to take a good look at the lessons you learned from your parents. In order to really be effective, you have to understand what you are doing, why you are doing it and whether or not those decisions are constructive or not. Sadly, many of the financial basics that influence our most important decisions are things we aren’t even conscious of.
Here’s a list of questions about what your learned about money from your parents.
- Were your parent’s financially successful? Why do you feel that way?
- Did you parents talk about money to you? If so, what did they say? Were the lessons helpful to you later in life?
- Did you parents practice what they preached? Did they “walk the talk”?
- In observing your family’s financial situation growing up, what did you learn about :
When I go over this list, I realize that most of the messages I got from my folks were a bit on the negative side. “Risk is everywhere and always catastrophic”. “Work is the only thing worthwhile”. “Spending money – forget it. We can’t afford it.” The list goes on and on.
Again, these messages were never verbalized but they were absolutely communicated. How about you? What did you really learn about money from your family? I strongly suggest you take a few minutes and write down your own answers. Which money lessons were helpful? What did you learn or observe from your parents that have kept you back? What are you doing to change those old stories that no longer work?