By Cristina Wiebelt-Smith, CPA, Wealth Advisor
When I was around five years old, my family moved 1200 miles across the country from California to Oklahoma so my dad could start a new job. He was early in his career, my mom stayed home with us, and they were paying back a loan to my grandparents who funded my dad’s dental school. They rented a small house and we had one car.
I remember it as fun times – walking to the grocery store was one of my favorite times with my mom and sister. We had food, clothing, toys, a home and as kids, we were perfectly content. I’m sure my parents felt stress that we didn’t see or feel but there was one thing my dad said that became my first money memory: “We’re on austerity.” He went on to explain that it meant we weren’t going to spend any money for a short time period.
The Beginnings of a Careful Planner
I remember him saying this a few times in those early years. It was probably at the end of the month and money was tight. My sister and I had no idea anything was different and would have never known a difference except for those three words. Maybe this sparked my interest in personal finance but I know it made me cautious and a planner. This is good to an extent but it has also hindered me by taking these things too far.
Money memories are powerful and can have a significant impact on our lives and our finances. Whether positive or negative, these memories shape our attitudes toward money and influence how we make decisions about spending, saving and investing. The important thing is to build a healthy relationship with money.
Positive and Negative Money Memories
Positive money memories, such as receiving a large inheritance or a parent getting a large raise, can give us a sense of financial security. This can make it easier to take risks with investments or be comfortable making large purchases. It’s important to remember that these events may be rare, and we can’t always rely on them for long term planning. Instead, it’s important to be consistent and look at building a long-term plan to secure your future.
Negative money memories, such as experiencing a job loss or losing money in a business can lead to fear and anxiety around money. I have a friend who said she would never buy toilet paper in bulk because she associated that with having frugal parents. She perceived it as not having enough money to buy the smaller but more expensive per roll packages. That is something most of us have never thought of, but it’s very personal for her.
Facing Your Money Fears
Fear and anxiety can make it difficult to make decisions around money and can lead to avoiding planning altogether. It’s important to identify these fears and work through them. Consider working with a financial planner to develop a plan for managing your finances or a therapist to address negative associations you may have with money.
Tips to Overcome Money Memories
- Identify the root cause of the memory.
- Educate yourself. The unknown can unnecessarily fuel anxiety around money.
- Develop a budget. This can give you a sense of control over your finances.
- Set some achievable and realistic short term financial goals you can easily meet to start building confidence.
- Get support. Reach out to friends or family who you want to emulate. Reach out to a professional, whether that is a therapist or a financial planner.
Money memories from years ago may still impact us today but they don’t have to control our financial future. By identifying the memories, educating ourselves, setting goals and getting support, we can overcome negative money memories and build a healthy, positive relationship with money.
We can help you get your financial plan in place – no matter what money memories are. Contact us to schedule a conversation.