If I were your financial therapist (yes, that does exist), one of the first things I would want to know would be about your parent’s relationship to money. And when you get married, you learn real fast about how your spouse was raised with regards to money.
These lessons from our parents are passive, and deeply ingrained. But now that it’s our turn to ingrain that money ethos into our kids, let’s do it mindfully.
Set clear spending priorities as a family: “No, you can’t have that toy, because we want to use our money to take a vacation this summer” is WAY different than “No, you can’t have that toy because we can’t afford it.” You switch from a mentality of want, to a mentality of abundance.
Be consistently generous: Kids regularly come face to face with poverty and homelessness, and your reaction to this need is their model. You can’t fill every ask, so having a structure to your giving offers your kids something solid to hang onto: “we give a % of our income to xyz,” or “we volunteer at the soup kitchen every month,” or whatever it is that inspires you.
Be confident: When you see that others have more or less than you, how do you react? If you are confident in your own financial position, you have the space to be happy for those who have more that you, and compassionate towards those who have less. This plays out on a big scale: when you get passed by a Maserati do you admire the car or curse his greed? And on a small scale: when your cousin buys a vacation home are you excited to visit or agitated by his success? On the flip side when your cousin loses his job are you compassionate or do you blame his laziness? See what I mean here? Your kids are watching these reactions to learn about how to react to relative wealth.
I wrote an article for over here exploring these issues more in depth, if you’d like to read more.