The ‘money story’ you learn from parents shapes your financial future

What is your money story? What money story did you learn from your parents and how does that differ to your money story as an adult? What have you rejected and what did you keep?

These are questions I’ve been asking 12 women from all walks of life in my podcast, Uncensored Money. To a person, each woman has said this isn’t a question they have ever asked themselves or thought about. Yet when they did, they realised the money story they grew up with potentially still influenced them, either negatively or positively as an adult.

Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston who is perhaps best known for her work on shame and vulnerability, once said, “When we deny the story it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.”

The problem is that money isn’t something we’re naturally talking about with our family or our peers so we’re not clear what money story is defining us or perhaps leading us astray. Yes, thanks to Scott Pape and his work there is now a whole load of people who at least have started thinking about their own financial literacy. However, I believe that until you figure out what drives you financially, what your wealth creation values are, what your relationship with money is and ultimately your money story – you’ll potentially be caught in a loop and be perpetually frustrated at how you are financially behaving.

That’s why I think we need to start being curious about our own money story.
That’s because the money story that we’ve picked up from our families, our friends and the media may seem innocuous and even helpful. For example, one money story a guest on my podcast told me she grew up with was that you bought a home and worked hard to pay it off. Another of my guests told me that if you worked hard you would be successful but that you needed to work really hard and for really long hours for that to happen.

Both of these money stories at face value seem OK – hard work, owning a home and paying it off as soon as you can. But they’re money stories both women have consciously rejected. That’s because in the first case, it was a successful business woman who needed to sell her home early on to fund her business. So she needed to reject her parents’ money story of safety and stability around home ownership. While the other worked herself to a breakdown because her money story taught her that was the only way to achieve success. A notion she has since rejected.

The money story you received may be different to these women. However, it’s important to understand what that money story is and to ask whether as an adult it’s something you need to accept, reject or tweak for yourself.

You can start to figure out your money story by asking yourself some curious questions. They might include:

  • Do you think money is good, bad or OK?
  • If money was a person how would you describe your relationship?
  • What are your wealth creation values?
  • Next, it’s about figuring out whether the answers to these questions is serving you or not.

For example, one of the money stories I grew up with was about power and control. In my household, my dad earned the money, he was an accountant and so all financial decisions made were his decision alone because he earned and understood money. In my relationship with my husband it’s so tempting to take control, make financial decisions and simply tell him what we’re doing because I understand money. However, because I don’t want our money story to be about power and control, my husband and I discuss what we’re doing financially and agree together on how we’re going to proceed. I still make my own decisions without checking in with him in my business but when it comes to our personal finances and investing, we decide together.

What about you? Maybe it’s a money story about the importance of owning your own home but you know that’s not right for you. Maybe it’s a money story about recklessness and addiction and you haven’t realised but you have picked up similar money compulsions. Maybe it’s a money story about the professions smart girls should take or whether you value creative industries.

We can become stuck in a financial loop where we are perpetually frustrated by either our actions or our inaction or we can start to become curious about the reasons behind that behaviour and start to figure out our own money story. And most importantly, what you’d like that money story to be.

Melissa Browne is CEO of A&TA and financial planning firm The Money Barre. Her latest book Unf— your Finances is instore now.

Source:- Sydney Morning Herald

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