“Never rely upon a man for your financial independence” was a statement boomed at me on repeat by my frustrated and angry mum who was going through a divorce at just the point when I was becoming financially aware as a young teenager.
Forty years later, I look back and conclude that my career in finance started then. To my 13-year-old self, the message was clear: being good with, and in control of, money was the key to a successful life, and the way to avoid divorce (although sadly, that last point turned out not to be true).
The idea that our financial behaviours stem from childhood is backed up by research from Cambridge University in conjunction with the Money Advice Service:
“The ‘habits of mind’ which influence the ways children approach complex problems and decisions, including financial ones, are largely determined in the first few years of life. Simply imparting information is now recognised as being ineffective in this area. By contrast, early experiences provided by parents, caregivers and teachers which support children in learning how to plan ahead, in being reflective in their thinking and in being able to regulate their emotions can make a huge difference in promoting beneficial financial behaviour”. Habit Formation and Learning in Young Children, by Dr David Whitebread & Dr Sue Bingham (University of Cambridge)
Patterns and messages
So, what financial messages around your parents’ behaviour towards money can you find from your own childhood? Or what if you grew up without parents, in the care system, for example?
For some of you, these patterns and messages may have stood you in good stead throughout your lives and that has meant you’ve been able to pass on the same messages to the younger people you are close to.
For others, the behaviour of your parents around money might have been quite dysfunctional, erratic, even potentially manipulative. And those, and any number of other emotionally led behaviours, have shaped your own relationship with money today.
Trends in wider society also have a huge part to play in our relationship with money. Many of us grew up in the 80s. I vividly remember Gordon Gecko’s line of “greed is good” from Wall Street or Harry Enfield’s “loadsamoney” character also from this time.
For too long, we have been sold the idea that our happiness is closely correlated with the amount of cash we have in the bank or the volume of “stuff” that we have in our homes and it is a battle to assert anything that challenges this view, even now, despite all manner of evidence to the contrary.
Additionally, there’s a blanket of taboo over money. We are discouraged from talking about our finances, not just publicly, but even amongst friends. Financial affairs are meant to be private. People become embarrassed when asked about money, uncomfortable and occasionally defensive and angry. Meanwhile, the advisors who we are meant to talk to are invariably remunerated by selling us financial products and seem to belong to an outdated, male dominated, financial hierarchy who struggle to actually listen.
It is no surprise then, that so many of us are struggling with deep financial anxiety, especially now within the context of the cost of living crisis.
You can be in control
As a Financial Coach, my role is to help people explore and understand their relationship with money so that they can take control of their money mindset (ie the sum of everything that shapes our attitude and emotions around money) and move forwards.
This is a key statement. We CAN take control of our money mindset. It is not something set in stone, but something that can be shaped by us so that our money mindset supports the life we want to live rather than holding us back or indeed sabotaging the positive steps we might seek to take.
The starting point is awareness. When I work with clients, we usually go backwards before we can move forwards. Armed with awareness and a better understanding of why we may have approached our financial lives in a certain way, we now have an opportunity to think about how we might do things differently. Change behaviour that may have held us back. Set a new agenda and move forwards.
Another key element is to remember when it comes to money management is your values. How might you shift your financial behaviour so that the decisions you make are aligned to your values? If you can do this, then the financial decisions you make will feel right and good.
Noon finance webinar
Not so long ago I had the good fortune to meet Eleanor at a gathering of some wonderful Queenagers at Coutts Bank, where I used to work. We were there to talk about how finance impacts upon women like us and how we universally felt the Financial Services industry had let us down. The Coutts all-female team were very interested to hear what we had to say and that we’re exploring the ways we might collaborate moving forwards.
It was there that Eleanor and I hatched the idea for a finance webinar for the wider Noon community. The early part of the year is an especially good time to be thinking about these things and so if you are curious to hear more about how you can take control of your emotional relationship with money, join me on Tuesday 7th February at 7pm by clicking on the link below and booking your free ticket.
Our intention is to follow this first session up with a more practical webinar with hints and tips based upon building sensible financial foundations with a range of headings to consider putting on that “to do” list.
Hope to see you in February
Get your free ticket for the finance webinar on Tuesday Feb 7th at 7pm HERE
Find out more about Sasha and her coaching services HERE