How You Feel About Money Might Change as You Age
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My parents have been cleaning out all of my childhood stuff from their house. They keep coming across little bits here and there, and recently my dad sent me an article from my hometown newspaper when I was interviewed at age 16.
The newspaper columnist asked me what one of my biggest goals was, and 16 year old me replied that I wanted to graduate from college without student loans to repay. I have no idea what made me say that or where that even came from because I definitely didn’t go to college debt free. In fact, I have a solid $32,000 college and grad school student loans to pay back. Still, it made me wonder what changed in terms of my perspective on money.
I believe there are many things that impact our views of money: our age, our generation and our upbringing. Even some unexpected and unprecedented events can change our relationship with money – like a natural disaster or a death in the family. Here are some examples:
Age and money
When you’re younger, you just don’t have the same sense of responsibility as someone who is older. Even though I was a rule follower and a pretty good kid, I still had no idea how important managing money was going to be as I got older. It was easy for me to manage my allowance as a teenager, trying to decide whether to spend it on an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt or makeup, but now, the responsibility is very real.
Because I’m currently the only person working in my family and I have two children, sometimes the magnitude of the responsibility takes my breath away. I imagine once I get my debt under control, I’m going to be much more focused on saving for retirement and my children’s savings for the future. As I near retirement age, I might start focusing more on giving.
So, with each age and stage in life, my relationship with money changes. Right now, I’m in a bit of a weird relationship with money. I love writing about it and I love making it, but somehow, no matter how hard I work, there just doesn’t seem to be enough of it. I know many of you can relate. In many ways, I hate how important it is and how much it matters each and every day.
Many of you have parents or grandparents who grew up in the Depression era. Those who were born in that generation tend to be quite frugal and resourceful. My father-in-law has a barn full of cardboard boxes – for what I am not sure. I just know that people who grew up in that era don’t throw things away. They buy used. They drive old cars, and they try to save money wherever they can.
Millennials, on the other hand, grew up in the era of technology. We like having the newest gadgets, we took out tons of student loans, but I think many millennials are also realizing how important it is to manage money and attack debt. One recent study by Fidelity even showed that millennials are doing better than other generations when it comes to retirement savings. Millennials’ love for tech may be driving the acceptance of popular online savings, investing and budgeting platforms like Personal Capital and Betterment.
Our relationship with money really starts with our upbringing. I’ve always found it interesting that some people emulate their parents when it comes to money habits while others like to do the opposite of their parents. Some people who grow up in more frugal households stay frugal, while others can’t wait to make their own money so they can make more lavish money choices.
Whether you continue the way your parents handle money or not, the point is that how we are raised drastically affects how we view money. This is something I want to keep in mind as I raise my children. There’s nothing I want more than to have them be extremely financially literate, (in addition to being all around good people, of course.)
Ultimately, although many things affect our relationship with money, the truth is that we all have a choice on whether that relationship will be healthy or not. It’s important not to pigeonhole yourself by saying something like “I’ve always been bad with money” or “I just don’t like math.”
We all have the ability to improve our relationships with money and make a positive impact on others by setting a good example. The choice really is up to you, so make it a good one.
Has your relationship with money changed over time as you’ve gotten older? How do you feel about money now? How do you think that will be different in 20 years? What other factors do you think influence how people view money?