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How Do Parents Teach about Money When They Weren’t Taught

Even parents that don’t teach their kids about money are teaching lessons without knowing it

It’s difficult raising kids with good money habits. Kids need to be taught how to handle money, how to budget, save and invest. That’s not done in schools so it falls on parents to start the financial conversations.

But most parents weren’t taught themselves how to handle money so it should be no surprise when they forget to teach their own kids.

As we’ve seen in so many of the personal finance scholarship essays, kids learn about money whether parents teach them or not. They learn by imitation and they learn from what they see outside the home.

Today’s scholarship essay is by Maurtisha Thomas, a student at Guilford College. She shares how her parents taught her money lessons without even realizing it and what she learned.

Check out Maurtisha’s story and please share on social media. The most-shared essay on how parents can teach their kids about money will win one of our two $500 personal finance scholarships, announced August 31st!

Did my parents teach me about money?

My parents, unfortunately, did not teach me the best practices about personal finances. In fact, they “taught” quite the opposite.

First, let me point out when I say taught, I’m using that word loosely. There were never family conversations about personal finances, saving money, paying bills, especially not investing! If there was a conversation it sounded more like this, “I can’t save any money with ya’ll. I have another bill to pay,” or “this bill is getting too high.”

Don’t get me wrong, my parents did the best they could with what they had and with what they saw growing up.

Nobody gets the kind of financial education they need to teach their kids. At some point, parents need to educate themselves so they can have the financial conversations with their kids. Taking the time to learn about money and teach your kids will enable them to start their own financial lives with the knowledge you were never given.

managing money bookStarting your financial education doesn’t have to mean expensive outside help. Check out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. A New York Times best-seller with more than four million copies sold.

Parents with Different Money Mindsets

My dad is one of the hardest working people I know. Growing up I saw him work six days a week, then on Sunday he volunteered at the church. He often worked double shifts during the week.

As a result, my sisters and I wanted for nothing. It wasn’t the work that I saw, it was the money and what we bought that I saw, that’s what I knew.

Reality was a little different. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I realized how hard my dad worked but it also shed light on how bad my parents were with money.

I come from a two-parent home, both parents worked, and my mother made relatively good money as well. It did not make sense to me that my dad couldn’t buy himself a new truck at $28,000 when he needed it. It didn’t make sense to me that my dad worked paycheck-to-paycheck.

I would ask myself, “what are ya’ll doing with your money? It cannot be that your sole purpose of working is to pay bills and if so, what bills are that high?!” It wasn’t that we were living beyond our means but there certainly was some spending outside our means.

See my parents were on separate pages, they saw money differently.

My dad wanted to work hard so he could enjoy life later. My mother wanted to spend now because her thinking is you can’t take money with you to the grave. So instead of family money conversations and financial lessons, this is what we saw. Great lessons were still learned.

We Become our Parents’ Money Habits

I saw terrible money habits and picked up on terrible habits.

It was the lack of teaching that caused me to realize I have to be taught. It was knowing and finally accepting my weakness with money that I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

Seeing my parents’ money habits also taught me that if I have a partner, it is imperative that we work together and are on the same page especially with money!

It was my spiritual mother that eventually taught and is teaching me about money. She asked me, “What do I want my money to do for me?” I thought of my dad and replied, “Certainly not work me to death!”

The most simple take-away she said was to sacrifice now and save so you can have later. I often hear, budget pennies now so you know how to budget dollars later.

Poor Money Lessons are Still Lessons

The question remains, did my parents teach me about money? I certainly learned what not to do.

I learned that money and matters of money are habits that need to be taught and learned. My parents did the best with what they got, because they were not taught either so it was difficult for them to turn around and teach.

I learned what the consequences of not teaching about finances were. I learned the importance of both ignorance and knowledge. Recently, my dad told me he was talking to someone about retirement. He found out when he retires, he’ll be a millionaire! Again I ask, did my parents teach me about money? I’m certainly still learning.

I want to thank Maurtisha for her story about learning money habits from her parents and the importance of families sharing the same money mindset. Be sure to support Maurtisha by sharing the article through social media and check in August for the winner of the personal finance scholarship.

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