You can likely thank (or blame) your parents for some aspects of how you turned out. Maybe you have your mother’s eyes or your dad’s habit of chewing with your mouth open.
How you manage money is another thing you likely picked up from your parents — whether they intended you to or not.
While nearly 90% of parents believe it’s important for their kids to grow up with good financial habits, almost half don’t know how to discuss money with their kids, according to a 2019 survey of 1,000 parents conducted by Edelman Financial Engines, a financial adviser firm. Further, 25% of respondents never or almost never talk to their children about household finances, the survey found.
If your family avoided financial topics, you may find yourself uncomfortable managing money and unaware of the effect your parents had on your financial behavior. But part of growing up is acknowledging what you learned from your parents — both good and bad — and correcting course as needed.
To claim your financial independence, define what your money goals are, understand how to achieve them through daily actions, and focus on long-term financial freedom.
KNOW YOUR HISTORY AND YOUR IDEAL FUTURE
If you don’t already, track your money management for a month. Document your income, bills and savings.
Now think about how your parents managed money while you were growing up. Look for areas of overlap to understand the money habits you learned. Did your parents carry loads of credit card debt or run behind on bills? Maybe they were frugal savers. If you aren’t sure how your parents handled finances, ask them.
“I think having the money conversation with your parents is important, especially if you come from a household where money wasn’t actively talked about,” says Paul Golden, managing director of communications at the nonprofit National Endowment for Financial Education. “Ask about the challenges they dealt with and how they managed them.”
Next, think about where you want to be. “Put financial goals in perspective of life goals,” says Kristen Holt, CEO of GreenPath Financial Wellness, a credit counseling and financial wellness organization. “Maybe you want to retire early, or spend time writing a book, or spend time with kids when you have them. What’s the life that you want to have?”
TIP: Compare your money history to the financial future you desire. If you dream about being a homeowner, for example, but find that you aren’t saving enough monthly to build up a down payment, see how you can adjust your spending habits.