We learn about money early on in our lives. But it’s what we aren’t explicitly taught that may influence us most.
Money is a huge cause of stress. Not having enough of it, dealing with job loss and uncovered medical expenses, and a constant battle over making ends meet increases the anxiety we feel.
The science bears this out, too. Work and money are the leading causes of stress in America, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey.
Though money doesn’t buy happiness, it’s true that those living in extreme poverty and unable to meet their basic needs are decidedly less chipper than those who are financially able to keep a roof over their heads and food on their plates.
But dig deeper into your past and to learn more.
Learning How Money Affects Lives
A recent article draws an excellent connection between our lives and money. In it, the author says:
By the time we become financially independent ourselves, most of us have already had a significant number of tension-causing encounters with money. Whether it was watching our parents argue over spending, seeing a loved one lose a job, or worrying over where our next meal would come from, stressful experiences surrounding money are entrenched in our memories. It’s no surprise then, that as adults, these memories shape our attitudes toward ourselves and others in relation to finances.
As children, we see our parents battling economic forces in an attempt to keep the financial ship moving ahead. We hear them talk about how expensive things are, we watch arguments about cash flow.
Those experiences impact us in our adult lives more than any formal lessons in money and personal finance. We learn that money is stressful, and that problems centering around finances have negative connotations.
As a result, we avoid talking about it or thinking about it.
Break The Cycle
When you’ve got money issues, think about your children before you open your mouth.
Don’t talk about money with your spouse or partner if the kids are around – even if they’re “too young to understand what we’re talking about.”
When you’re at a restaurant or buying something, don’t talk about the price in front of your kids.
If you’re short a few bucks, don’t ask your child if you can borrow money from their allowance or savings.
And if you need to talk with a financial counselor or lawyer about your money issues, let the children at home.
Money is an adult issue. Children should be allowed to retain their innocence for as long as possible.
Be Realistic About The End Result
In spite of everything you do, your children will get stressed about money when they’re adults. In spite of our best efforts, they’ll struggle with finances and lose sleep from time to time.
It happens, and should be expected.
Our goal should be to avoid the deep psychological scars of seeing how money problems can be destructive to an adult’s world.
Without those scars, our children will be more open to learning productive personal financial habits. When they get into a tough situation, they’ll have the tools necessary to solve the problem effectively and intelligently.
And that’s truly all we can hope for – isn’t it?