Is Your Parents’ Attitude To Money Limiting Your Success?

Laveta Brigham

Think back to when you were young and having discussions with your family around the dinner table. Think about when you were in a store and wanted to buy something. What about when you saw someone without any money, or someone with lots of money? The narrative you were told […]

Think back to when you were young and having discussions with your family around the dinner table. Think about when you were in a store and wanted to buy something. What about when you saw someone without any money, or someone with lots of money? The narrative you were told then will likely have stuck with you.

Think back to the last time you went to a restaurant. Did you automatically look at the least expensive item on the menu? What about when shopping online, did you sort “price – high to low” or “low to high”? Have you created a subconscious link between something being more expensive than you expected, and feeling ripped off? Or do you let price information slide, barely noticing? Chances are, this isn’t linked to your current financial situation. Chances are it’s linked to the story that was told around money when you were growing up; who had it, who deserved it, and what represented expensive or good value.

Limiting beliefs about money

People tend to hold similar money beliefs to those of their parents. They take on the same limitations and aspirations. Perhaps someone grew up in a household where they were told things like, “money doesn’t grow on trees”, “people like us don’t have money”, “we can’t afford that”. What would be the effect of repeatedly being told that not only could you not afford something, but that people like you would likely never be able to?

Someone I know remembers their dad spending hours getting frustrated and cursing whilst trying to fix the family car when it had broken down. He refused to pay for a mechanic to do a good job, quickly. Instead he devalued his time and became determined to fix it himself. When the car broke down again, the false economy was realized.

Sometimes more expensive items have been needlessly overpriced. Sometimes it’s simply the better option. Assuming the former, without questioning, is likely a subconscious choice from childhood beliefs rather than representative of who you are right now.

If you truly grow up believing that money is a scare resource, that people who have it have earned it via dishonest means, or that it’s not possible for you, you will spend your whole life acting in accordance with this belief system. It will feel intuitive. But it will chip away at every action you take and lead you down a path of limitations.

Abundance and scarcity

There are plenty of spiritual guidance coaches who help people clear their money blocks. There are visualisations around letting money flow freely to you. There are even physical tapping exercises and affirmations to repeat, to help someone clear their psychological blocks. It doesn’t matter how it’s done, it matters that it happens.

Some households operate with next to no money, yet they don’t dwell on it. Their focus becomes resourcefulness and having a fun time without needing to make purchases or acquire possessions. Some make explicitly clear the link between acquiring money and working for it. They inspire the members to dream big and then put the steps in place to get there.

When entrepreneur and author Daniel Priestley’s son asked the question, “How do you make money?”, Daniel’s response helped set the tone for financial abundance and being creative. “I’ve said, well, there’s lots of ways to make money. There’s all sorts of money opportunities everywhere.” He went on to explain that money could be made by selling artwork that you created or making something, “I’m trying to give him lots of ideas and options as to how this thing called money gets made. And it’s not always chores, or doing the bins, cleaning the gutters… there are all these other ways to create money as well.”

How often is making money as a kid linked to doing chores or being paid by the hour, and is that useful to them as adults? It’s likely a belief that will stick with someone, who then has to realise that it can be made through selling or hiring products, creating technology or creating items of value for customers. Growing up, I was paid by the hour in waitressing roles, but tips on top of that helped me create the link between doing a good job and earning more. When did you realize that money wasn’t always paid by the hour?

If you set your mind to it, you could notice what you had rather than what you didn’t have. You could observe it going in and link that with you being deserving. You could see it going out and link that with you being fortunate enough to pay bills, or buy services, or hire people.

What can you do?

Work out which of your money beliefs you want to keep and which you’d like to move past. Work out which are serving you and which are holding you back. If you believe something isn’t possible for you, you’ll dream smaller and make less exciting plans. If you believe all rich people are greedy, you’ll miss opportunities to be inspired. If you believe that money always comes to you hourly, you’ll miss ideas for scale.

It doesn’t matter how much money you grow up with, what matters is the story told about it. Craig Wolfe of Celibriducks recalls his family only going on one trip when he was younger, but explained that, “Growing up, my parents always stressed working hard and emulating those who persevered through failure.” Wilbur You, of Youtech & Associates, remembers, “Growing up I had inspiration because of my grandpa and mother. They were extremely poor and immigrated here from China. They did not have any money, and my mom worked at Baskin Robbins for $5.50/hour while not knowing English. With those odds, she managed to put herself through school and got her CPA. It showed me what it took to be successful and what she had to do in order to give me a better life.”

Maria Weyman of Weymedia Inc, remembers, “We didn’t have much growing up. Our family of five lived in a small one-bedroom apartment which could barely fit us all. Space was tight and money was tighter. My dad worked two jobs and my mom had three or four or more hustles all going at once… I didn’t fully appreciate [it] at that time. My parents’ daily grind introduced me to grit. That desperation fuelled me to aim high. And scarcity fuelled discipline.”

Let’s link having money with creating something of value, that people want to buy. Let’s link it to having freedom and options and being able to serve even more. Let’s teach that it can be acquired in a straightforward way, involving smart thinking and perseverance. Let’s read the stories of when that has happened to others, to create inspiration for ourselves.

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