The Money Scripts We Learn in Childhood

Live Well Diary Team

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Money Scripts - cards
Today, we will talk about something that has been on my mind lately: the money scripts we learn in childhood and how they shape our financial lives.

I know what you’re thinking: “What in the world are money scripts?”

Well, let me tell you – they’re the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours around money that we learn in childhood and can considerably impact our financial futures.

My upbringing revolved around the notion that money was earned through hard work and had to be saved wisely for unforeseen challenges.

While this mindset gave rise to responsible financial habits, it also created within me an apprehension towards spending and expenses that has persisted till today. Even though my finances are adequate to cover necessary expenses, I get nervous and afraid that I may run out of cash.

And I am not the only one who thinks this way; many people carry forward “money scripts” from their early years. And these sometimes hold them back from achieving financial success.

Maybe you were told that rich people are greedy or that you should never talk about money. Our personal beliefs can influence our perception of wealth and pose an obstacle when striving towards financial goals.

So, why do we learn these money scripts in childhood

The Influence of Family Dynamics

Family dynamics play a pivotal role in moulding our perceptions and attitudes toward money from an early age, ultimately contributing to the formation of our unique money scripts. These scripts, often unconsciously inherited from one generation to the next, become the lens through which we view and navigate financial matters.

The family unit acts as the initial crucible where our understanding of money takes shape. Examining the attitudes toward money within a family reveals a wealth of information about the values and beliefs that shape financial behaviours. Whether money is viewed as a source of security, a symbol of success, or a cause of stress, these attitudes become the building blocks of our money scripts.

Money Scripts - saving

Positive and Negative Examples:
Exploring positive and negative money scripts passed down through generations unveils the profound impact of familial experiences on financial mindsets. Positive scripts include lessons about responsible saving, budgeting, and strategic investing, providing a solid foundation for financial stability. Conversely, harmful scripts, such as a fear of scarcity or unhealthy spending habits, can perpetuate cycles of financial stress. Recognising and understanding these scripts is crucial for breaking detrimental patterns.

Parental Behaviours and Communication:
The role of parental behaviours and communication about finances cannot be overstated. Children are keen observers, absorbing explicit lessons about money and implicit messages conveyed through their parents’ actions. Whether parents openly discuss financial matters, model responsible spending, or inadvertently impart anxiety about money, these behaviours become integral components of a child’s money script.

Impact on Children’s Money Beliefs:
The imprint of family dynamics on children’s money beliefs is profound. The lessons learned at home, whether positive or negative, often become deeply ingrained, influencing financial decision-making well into adulthood. Understanding the roots of these beliefs allows individuals to gain insight into financial habits and attitudes, creating an opportunity for intentional change and a break from limiting money scripts.

Cultural and Societal Influences

These external forces, comprising broader attitudes and norms, significantly form our money scripts—those silent architects of our financial decisions.

Cultural attitudes toward money form a powerful backdrop against individual money scripts. Analysing the overarching cultural ethos provides insights into whether money is viewed as a means of personal fulfilment, a status symbol, or a communal resource. The cultural landscape lays the foundation for personal money scripts, fostering a collective mindset that influences financial behaviours.

Impact of Economic Conditions and Social Class:
Economic conditions and social class serve as potent influencers on our financial perspectives. The ebb and flow of economic tides, coupled with one’s position in the social hierarchy, mould perceptions about wealth, success, and financial security. The impact of economic downturns or upswings and the inherent privileges or challenges associated with social class shape the lens through which individuals craft their money scripts.

Examination of Cultural Norms:
Cultural norms, deeply ingrained in societal structures, subtly guide our financial behaviours. Whether it’s the emphasis on frugality, the pursuit of conspicuous consumption, or communal values prioritising sharing wealth, these norms become integral components of our money scripts. Exploring cultural norms reveals the unwritten rules governing how individuals navigate their financial landscapes.

Money Scripts - giving money

Changing Your Money Scripts for a Healthier Financial Future

So, how can we change our money scripts for the future?

Just because we learned these money scripts in childhood doesn’t mean we’re stuck with them forever. We can challenge and change these beliefs and create a healthier financial future.

If you have negative or limiting beliefs about money, they can hold you back from achieving your financial goals.

For example, you might have doubts about being able to purchase a home, and that is perfectly understandable. Another example could be that you cannot go through life without being in debt. One must acknowledge the possibility of these limiting beliefs creating self-fulfilling prophecies and impacting financial stability.

By challenging and changing those beliefs, you can create a healthier relationship with money. You can start to see money as a tool to help you achieve your dreams rather than something to be feared or avoided.

Navigating the complexities of money management can sometimes be challenging, but following some strategic tips and tricks can become more accessible.

Seek financial education: Investing in financial education is one practical tip worth considering.
This entails improving one’s understanding of successful money management through activities such as taking courses/workshops, reading insightful books/articles and possibly consulting with an experienced expert in the field like a trusted financial advisor or financial planner – for informed support and advice tailored to one’s specific needs.

Set Sensible Financial Targets: Having defined targets helps maintain focus on your financial goal so that progress stays consistent towards accomplishing them.

However, they must be within reason to not overwhelm or deflate one’s efforts. Begin with attainable goals such as saving no more than 5% of your monthly income, then aim to progressively increase this amount once you become comfortable with regular saving.

Instilling long-term changes into any money script is an undertaking requiring both patience and diligence.

In Summary

Our childhood money scripts have a powerful impact on our financial lives. They shape our beliefs and behaviours around money and can help or hinder our financial success.

It’s not always easy to change our beliefs. Still, with education and goal-setting, we can shift our mindset and make positive changes in our financial lives.

So, let’s take a closer look at our money scripts and start challenging the ones that aren’t serving us. With a little effort and determination, we can create a brighter financial future for ourselves.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska:

Photo by Karolina Grabowska:



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