Five Generational Money Taboos You Should Ignore
Replace These Outdated Ideas About Money and Take Control of Your FinancesWednesday, 17 November 2021
For most of us, we inherit our money habits and develop our relationship with money from our parents. While a lot of us are raised to believe that talking about money is taboo, the reality is that it’s healthier to be open and upfront when discussing money topics. Avoiding conversations about money perpetuates financial illiteracy and provides an opportunity for bad money habits to take root.
There’s a lot that we can learn from our parents and it’s important to heed the lessons from those who came before us. However, there are some long-held beliefs about money that no longer hold in modern times, and believing them can lead to unnecessary financial hardships.
Read on for five generational money taboos that fail to hold water – and some mantras you can use to replace them.
#1: All Debt is Bad
Past generations were raised with the idea that all debt is equally bad and that it is something that should be avoided as much as possible. However, debt comes in several flavors and some debt can even be positive, depending on your situation. For example, taking out a mortgage to buy a house or taking out a loan to pay for school isn’t necessarily an unwise decision to make - you’re investing in your future self.
Rather than shy away from ever taking on debt, take some time to educate yourself about debt. Learn about things like interest rates, credit scores, and loan terms to make sure that, should you take out a loan, you’ll be able to manage it properly. When done right, taking on some debt can really pay off. Just think about all the benefits that come from credit cards - if you’re disciplined enough to pay off your credit card bill each month, you’ll be able to take advantage of their points and reward systems.
#2: You Must Combine Finances When You Marry
When you get married, it’s expected that your two lives will then become one. You’ll share the same bed, the same house, the same families, the same traditions, and more. But it’s okay to keep some boundaries in place. In fact, it’s healthy to do so. If it makes more sense, or if you’re more comfortable keeping separate accounts or taking on a hybrid approach when it comes to finances in marriage, then that’s okay!
Considering money is one of the leading causes of divorce, it’s important that you and your partner have open and honest conversations about your money habits and relationship with money. When you focus on communicating, you can find a system that works for your unique relationship.
SEE ALSO: Building Your Financial Confidence
#3: You Should Have the Same Goals as Your Parents
Traditionally, there was a rigid life path that we were all expected to follow: get married in your 20’s, get a job, buy a house with the white picket fence, have kids, grow old together. That plan no longer holds these days. Younger generations are finding themselves with more freedom to decide how they want their lives to look and what path they want to take - and it’s okay if the path that you decide for yourself looks nothing like the path that your parents took.
What matters is that you’ve taken the time to learn who you are, make a plan for your own life, create financial goals of your own, and stay true to yourself.
#4: Cutting Your Kids Off is Cruel
As a parent, it can be incredibly difficult to walk the line between being supportive and over-indulging your kids when they’re in need. However, there is such a thing as helping your kids too much, which can often be to your children’s own detriment. This is especially the case when it comes to financial support.
It’s important for your children to learn independence and financial literacy, and a great way for them to learn these things to be put in positions where they’re made to support themselves. Obviously, you shouldn’t just stop financially supporting your teenager as soon as they get their first job, but finding opportunities to encourage your children to earn their own money and support themselves will be better for their confidence and their growth as their own person.
#5: Sacrifice What You Need to Leave Your Children an Inheritance
There’s generational pressure to leave some kind of financial legacy for our children when we die. And while the idea of leaving something to take care of our children when we’re gone is a beautiful sentiment, the reality is that it’s not doable for everyone. It’s not worth setting money aside for your children if it means sacrificing your own well-being.
Most children will want their parents to live a long and comfortable life, even if that means that there’s nothing left for them when their parents pass on. Additionally, there are other things of value that you can leave your children - handwritten letters, the memories of a childhood full of love and laughter, the lessons that you’ve taught them, and support that you’ve shown them as they’ve grown. These things matter just as much – if not more.
SEE ALSO: Families and Finances: Communication is Key
Destigmatizing the Taboos Around Money
At the end of the day, we’re all going to have our own unique relationships with our money that have been shaped by our life experiences and those who raised us. What’s important is that we begin initiating open and honest conversations about money because that’s how we learn, grow, teach, and begin building healthier relationships. Whether it’s with our parents, our children, our partners, or others close to us, try to find ways to open up those lines of communication. Remember to keep your mind and heart open and to put as much respect and understanding into those spaces as possible as there may be times that you come to the conversation with different viewpoints. That’s okay; what matters is that you’re communicating with one another.
It’s also important to remember that while we may have learned, or failed to learn, about money from our upbringing, we’re ultimately the ones who get to define our own stories and determine our own mindsets. Think about your own relationship with money and where your ideas about money came from. Knowing your own money story can help you figure out where you may need some work and where you’re doing well when it comes to finances.
If you’d like to speak with a professional about your personal finances and develop a long-term plan for your future self, schedule a call with us today.