The Relationship Between Family of Origin & Financial Habits

May 15, 2023

The day after Mother’s Day is a good day to consider your family of origin.

Your view of money is inherited from your parent’s view of money. We don’t just inherit tangible money (or not) from our mom and/or dad, but we inherit their views and attitudes.

According to one article from the American Psychological Association: “We develop our attitudes and beliefs about money in childhood.”1

The same article adds:

The 2014 survey results indicated that 36 percent of Americans are uncomfortable talking about money, and 18 percent say money is a taboo subject in their families. For many Americans money is a touchy subject.

That’s a problem, experts say—especially in families with children…By talking often about money, and modeling good money management habits, you’ll set your children up for a future of financial success.2

What now?

First, get curious about how you view money. Are you silent about it? Are you stressed about it?

What emotions come up around it for you? Fear? Greed? Hope? Anger? Generosity? Worry? Are these connected to stories from your childhood?

I’m no psychotherapist, but those are good questions to ask.

Second, if you are a parent, recognize the financial impact you will have on your kids. This can be simultaneously sobering and energizing.

Think of the positive impact you can have if you teach your kids good money habits and model healthy attitudes around it.

Parents like me are far from perfect, so where you’ve made mistakes, you can clean up your mess and move forward.

Why not start implementing a few things now?

  • Apologize for bad attitudes around money. Be specific about times where you blew it in front of your kids
  • Speak about money with positive emotions. This doesn’t mean never speak negatively. It does mean making sure they sense the potential of money and not just the pitfalls of money.
  • Pay them for “extra” work. Encourage their entrepreneurship in and outside of the household.
  • Show them how compound interest works. For example, tell them if they give you five dollars from money that they earned (not money given for nothing), every two weeks it will double. So, after six weeks, it’s forty bucks. Furthermore, if they “withdraw” it after two weeks, they just get $10. Likewise, if they ”withdraw” it after three and a half weeks—because they just-have-to-have-that-new-toy and haven’t hit week four, they still…just get $10. They need to get the feeling for time-in being what counts. Adjust amounts and time for age-appropriate levels.
  • Teach them to be generous with their money. Have them surprise a friend or surprise someone having a hard time emotionally or financially. Show them how to give to a charity, need in the community, need in the world, or church. Finally, model it yourself!

What if you’re a grandparent? Check-in with the parents and see if implementing any of the above is “ok” with their mom and dad first.

Let’s change and/or continue our family’s attitudes and habits around money!

It can have a generational impact.



  2. Ibid.