As a parent, most of us realize that our children are constantly watching us, learning from us, and mimicking our behaviors, both good and bad. When we are kind to others, our children are more likely to be kind. When we take the opportunity to laugh and play, our kids are more light-hearted. However, we often don’t stop to think that this is also true for our financial habits. Here are five ways parents influence their children’s perceptions about money.

You are Careful with Your Money

This behavior is interesting because it can have multiple effects on children. If your frugal living makes your children feel deprived, once they are adults and earning their own money, they may choose to indulge themselves beyond their means to make up for the things they felt cheated out of growing up. On the other hand, if your children feel their needs and some of their wants are being met, they may choose to follow your example and be careful with their money.

Growing up, our family was poor. We received hand-me-downs from neighbors, our father often hunted to provide food, our mother did a lot of baking, and we always had a garden, processing many quarts of fruits and vegetables for the winter months. Yet, I never felt deprived. Our mother made it fun when we received the hand-me-down clothes and I felt sorry for the folks who had to eat store-bought produce all winter while we enjoyed the fruits of our garden. I also felt blessed to have homemade bread to eat. This is a great example of how frugality—if done right—can positively influence your children.

You Live Beyond Your Means

Living beyond your means will, in most cases, lead to your children having the same behavior


. They will learn that it is okay to use credit to pay for the lifestyle they desire even if they don’t have the income to support it. Unfortunately, one day they may wake up to discover the debt burden is more than they can handle.



You Save for Major Purchases

Talking to your children about major purchases you are saving for will, in almost all cases, lead to them mimicking this behavior. Getting them involved in saving for a big family vacation is a great learning tool.

You Give Your Children Everything They Want

This behavior can lead to your children expecting that they will always get what they want without their own effort. Using credit to pay for their desired lifestyle or expecting continuing support from you as parents will deprive them of the joy of working hard for something they want.

You Give to Charity

This is another habit that can lead to multiple results in your children. If your children see your charitable giving as part of your lifestyle and one that they can participate in and enjoy, most likely they will continue that behavior as adults. However, if your children feel the charity is receiving more of your time and money than they are, they may choose to not be charitable.

Our children are great imitators. Being aware of this and exhibiting the financial behaviors we would like our children to have should lead to them learning to be responsible with their own money.



Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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