The Question You Need to Ask to Improve Your Money Mindset

Have you ever thought about how your upbringing has affected the way you view finances? I know I hadn’t for a long time.

The first time I was introduced to the topic of family of origin was during our engagement. On an engagement retreat we were asked to discuss how our families of origin affect us today. This is because the families we are raised in are the starting block for most things in life. Jake and I found the this topic was enlightening for us. It became particularly important for helping us solve our money disagreements and see that we needed to create a new vision for our family, not just repeat what our parents did.

What is Your Family of Origin?

Your family of origin is the household culture you grew up in. It’s where you learned about life: how to love, argue, and communicate.

In my family, my parents were polar opposites and our relationship with money often felt like a roller coaster. My father values saving, investing, and job security. My mother loves shopping, being generous, and traveling. We had times growing up where money was abundant. We also had seasons where my father was unemployed and the stress on my parents seemed unbearable. As I child, I began to see how financial setbacks can truly steal your peace and security.

Spoiler alert, every bit of this affected my view of money.

Now I’m not a counselor, but it’s common sense that the way we were raised affects us. However, most of us haven’t spent time reflecting on how this affects our financial habits and beliefs. It wasn’t until someone asked me to reflect on how my upbringing affected my spending habits that I realized this fact. I also had to learn that even though my experience was authentic, I still had many ways to grow.

How Does Your Family of Origin Affect Your Finances?

The money patterns we pick up during childhood can be the largest factor in determining how easy or difficult it will be for us to achieve financial success.

I share this topic with you because I know this subject affects all of us. For better or worse, our financial habits start with our family of origin.

If you want to move your finances forward, the first place to start is understanding what you absorbed in your family of origin.  

How Did You Learn?

There is a common saying, ‘more is caught than taught.’ This is especially true in the way we learned to spend, save, and communicate about money.

You might not have been explicitly taught, but as a child you observed what your parents did.   Did your family go shopping on Saturday mornings without really needing anything? Did your parents buy lunch at work or bring one from home? Did your family eat out regularly or was going to a restaurant a special occasion? Did you take vacations? Did your family complain about money often? Did you watch them argue? Did your parents talk to you about their plans for retirement? Silence is also a teacher. For instance, did your family stay quiet while you took out a student loan or opened up your first credit card?

If you think about it, you can probably point out what your family valued and what they didn’t.

These observations shape our financial mindset because as children, we are wired to draw conclusions from our experiences. Those conclusions become our rule book. Then, we bring that rule book into life.

Having this self knowledge can help you understand what you should keep and what you should let go of. Then you truly can move forward.

How to Move Forward

We have a few options of what we can do with what we absorbed from our families growing up.

We can:

  1. Do everything the same
  2. Rebel and do it all differently
  3. Take the good, leave the bad, and create a new vision ← My personal recommendation

I want to challenge you to ask yourself what you learned from your parents about money. What trends do you see?

When you understand why you you make the choices you do, then you can begin to improve your behavior. Since in personal finance, your behavior is more important than head knowledge.

Questions to Ask Yourself

To help you reflect on how your family of origin affects your money mindset today, I’ve written down some questions that helped me better understand my beliefs about money.

  1. What type of lifestyle did you have growing up? Was your family affluent? Middle class? Lower class?
  2. How did your family feel about the financial lifestyle they had? Were they at peace, stressed, angry, humble, or thankful?
  3. How did you feel about your financial lifestyle growing up? Proud, embarrassed, unsatisfied, apathetic? Why?
  4. What do you remember your parents and influences in your life telling you about money?
  5. What did you take to heart? What do you disagree with?
  6. What financial habits did you pick up from your parents?
  7. How does your family of origin still affect you in your financial habits and decisions?
  8. Looking at where you came from, where can you grow?  

My hope is that reflecting on your family of origin will help you better understand your financial beliefs and behaviors. But remember, these answers are not meant to be your finish line but serve as your starting place.

Understanding where you came from will help you get to where you’re going.  

The good news is that no matter what you learned from your parents you can improve yourself and your future.

You’ve got this.

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