Bad Money Habits from our Childhood

by Kristina on February 6, 2012 · 10 comments

lemonade stand

Good Morning DINKS.  Take a moment to think about your childhood and if you grew up with or without money in your life. How did you first learn about money and how did your parents manage their money? The way that we grew up learning about money as kids definitely has an impact on how we manage our money as adults.  If we grew up with money maybe we take money for granted as an adult, and if we didn’t lead a privileged life as a child maybe we work harder now to enjoy the finer things in life that we didn’t have when we were younger.

For many of us we never learned about money as kids, I never learned about money until my parents told me to get a job…and I got two. Money was kind of just always around when I was a kid and I never really learned to appreciate money until I had to start earning it myself.  As I got older and started making a lot more money I started to take money for granted.  After the market crash a few years ago I learned the hard way that I should never take money for granted because there is definitely no guarantee that money will always be there.  Now as a 31 year old professional I have come full circle and once again I am appreciating my hard earned dollars.  I made a promise to myself to never take money for granted ever again.

Our parents (or at least my parents) always said that they wanted to give us (my younger sister and I) more than they had while they were growing up.  Both of my parents come from Eastern European immigrant families with 6 kids on each side. My Father and my Mother are both one of the older kids in their families, therefore they had a lot of responsibilities growing up and unfortunately there was not a lot of money to go around.  Money was spent on necessities such as housing, food, and clothing for a family of eight; it was not spent on life’s luxuries such as toys and family vacations.

Did your childhood money memories make you grow up to appreciate a hard earned dollar, or did you grow up taking money for granted?

Here are 5 Bad Habits that We Develop when we Grow Up Without Money (according to

  1. Acquiring a Taste For Bad Food.  I have to be honest there is nothing like some feeling good but bad for you comfort food to make a bad day better!
  2. Spending Extra Money Instead of Saving It.  I was definitely guilty of this in the past; every single quarterly bonus was accounted for and spent even before it was paid into my bank account.
  3. Going Over Board with Gift Giving.  Christmas and Birthdays are a big deal in my family full of gifts, parties, and lots of food.  In my opinion there is nothing wrong with giving lavish gifts as long as we can afford to do so.  I don’t believe in getting into debt over giving gifts.
  4. You Become an Obsessive Compulsive Money Tracker. I am sooooo guilty of this.  After my income crashed with the market I became obsessed with my money; I started tracking every single penny to make sure that there was always money in my accounts.  I know every cent that comes in and every single cent that goes out and (now) I don’t think that will ever change.
  5. Only Focusing on Money in the Short Term.  When we don’t have a lot of money we don’t really think about the long term, this is only normal because after every pay check there is no money left over.  We can break this bad habit by saving even $10 per pay check for the long term, anything to change our habits.

Photo by Vivid

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daisy February 6, 2012 at 9:29 am

I’m guilty of all those things, with the exception being bad food – I’m usually not a fan.

In any case, I’ve definitely become an obssessive compulsive money tracker. I don’t know that it’s a bad habbit, though!

2 Dans February 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

The post picture made me thirsty, but instead of lemonade, I wanted a pop from a fast-food joint.

Consider me guilty of bad habit #1…

3 Kristina February 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I definitely had a few lemonade stands when I was a kid :-)

4 Money Infant February 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Yep I’m guilty of all the above too. Mom and dad didn’t give me everything, but they gave enough that it wasn’t until I was out of college and on my own that I truly learned the value of a dollar.

5 Kris @ Debt-Tips February 7, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I’m guilty too. Being an only child I had it little too easy. Took me a while to figure out how money really worked. We’ve tried teaching our kids the value of earning and then managing your own money at an early age, and hopefully they’ll avoid some of the dumb money mistakes I made.

6 Stephanie February 17, 2012 at 10:09 am

I’m an only child, like Kris, and my family was middle to upper-middle class, but my parents went to great pains to make sure I didn’t take money for granted. I got a small allowance each week. If I wanted more money, I could volunteer to do extra chores. My parents made sure my necessities were taken care of, and they were more than happy to pay for expenses related to sports, music lessons, etc., but if I wanted a new toy I had two choices: put it on my birthday or Christmas list, or save my allowance and buy it myself. It seemed kind of harsh to me when I was a kid, but as an adult I definitely appreciate the value of a dollar!

7 Nicole February 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

My parents always seemed to have enough money, but they were never frivolous. When we went out to eat, they never ordered alcohol or let us get appetizers or desserts. I find myself ordering those things now just because I can. I am also much more lavish in the gift giving department than my parents every were and I am much more into clothes than my mom.
I am good with money, though, and have always saved. I started my 401(k) at 21 and for years put 20% of my income in every year. Now with mortgages and a child (soon to be children), I had to cut back, but I have a very sizable retirement account now.
I am trying to instill in my son the importance of saving. He is 5 now, and every single monetary gift he has ever been given has been put directly into his 529 college plan (every birthday, christmas, baptism, etc gift). I also convert gift cards he receives into college money. For example, if he gets a $20 gift card to ToysRUs, I put $20 in his college account and keep the gift card to use to buy his birthday or christmas gifts. He doesnt need more toys. It’s to the point now that when he opens a card and money comes out, he goes, look mommy, college money! His dad (my exhusband) thinks I have him brainwashed, but I think as long as he doesnt complain, I will keep doing it. Baby #2 is due in July, and I will do the same with him/her. Luckily I’ve been able to provide everything I need to my kid, so any monetary gift he gets goes right to his future.
I have also been teaching him about not being able to afford something vs. not wasting money. For example, if he wants some piece of junk at the store, I used to say ‘mommy doesnt have the money’. But, then I realized that could be teaching him that its ok to buy junk if you do have the money. So, now I say that we don’t need that and we aren’t going to waste our money on it. So, he is learning that just because we have the money, we don’t need to spend it.

8 Nicole February 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

Oh, one of the things that made me so into saving at an age where my friends didnt even consider it was my dad sitting down with me and explaining the time value of money. That was a HUGE lesson. How putting $5 away at 20 years old is equal to putting $20 away at 40 years old because of how time compounds money. I wish my new husband had received the same lesson. He was 40 when we married and had never started a 401(k) or IRA, whereas I had close to $150,000 saved already. I about had a stroke when I found that out thinking about all the catch-up we would have to do.

9 Asahi Kaiten January 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm

“Only Focusing on Money in the Short Term.” –I am guilty of this! But now, I am trying my best to save 10% on every paycheck and I hope it’s not too late to do it.

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