What was your Experience with Money as a Child?



Cecilia Tsang

Financial Advisor & Portfolio Manager


Do you worry so much about money that it keeps you up at night?  Or are you quite calm about your finances and tend to be quite confident in managing your cash flow?

In my initial meetings with clients, I like to ask the question, “what was your experience with money as a child?”.  I have found that behaviours and attitudes about money tend to stem from our experience with money while growing up.  Learning about my clients’ past experiences with money gives me a good glimpse into how their current attitudes about money may have formed.

What are your memories about money from childhood? Did you have a piggy bank? Did your mom or dad bring you to the bank to make an initial deposit? Did your parents openly talk about money, investments, and net worth or was the topic taboo? What did you learn from each of your parents? What were their attitudes about money?  How did their attitudes shape your own attitudes about money? Perhaps you are very secretive about money today and don’t enjoy dealing with money at all.  Or maybe you lavish your children with gifts and other things because your own childhood felt overly frugal.  Did you grow up being told that it was very important to show the world your success through material things and today you tend to spend a tad more than you really should? Do you try to control your money very carefully these days because money was a source of conflict and worry during childhood?

The experiences we had while growing up are engrained in our brains and have molded us into how we manage (or don’t manage) our finances today. This does not mean that you are stuck with the attitudes of the past.

If you want to change your behavior with money, it is good to first understand and acknowledge your own attitudes and beliefs. Previous beliefs can lead to new ones after we become aware of them and determining that we want to make changes. Many of my clients have the attitude that money needs to be saved and squirrelled away and have trouble spending it, even though they have more than enough to live a lavish lifestyle. With these clients, I try to show them the possibilities of spending and gifting in new ways while illustrating how secure and comfortable their lives can continue to be.

It is good to work together with your advisor to explore these engrained behaviours and attitudes as well as their consequences. By doing this, you can determine whether it would be beneficial to work on making changes that would benefit your overall lifestyle while increasing your peace of mind.


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