My money story

A few weeks ago, I went to a women’s leadership conference in Philadelphia.  The event speakers were inspirational, and I left with takeaways from each talk. 

One talk entitled, “The Psychology of Money,” was given by a financial advisor and particularly hit home. 

Why, you ask?  Well, I have my own money story.

I never knew “The psychology of money” was a thing.  What she presented resonated with me because I could insert my own story into the personalities and emotions around money that she spoke about.  I had already assessed my own situation and past belief systems around money, so it was interesting to see that it wasn’t just me. 

I knew after listening to the talk and hearing many women in the breakout session voicing their own fears that it was time for me to share my story….the story of how I gave my personal power away regarding money.  Actually, I didn’t just give it away– I served it up on a silver platter.

In order to understand the story, we need to go way back in time before I was married for the start of this one.

Many of our beliefs are not actually our own.

Our childhood upbringing plays a huge part in how we interpret our own reality. These influences shape our beliefs and we just accept them and take them on as our own. 

This is what I remember and internalized from my own childhood.

Please note:  this is my own perspective.  As we know, ones perspective is not the truth. I am not blaming my parents in any way shape or form, simply sharing my story.

My parents were teachers and always put a high value on education.  They financially sacrificed to send my brothers and myself to private high schools and universities because they knew it would benefit us down the road. I am forever grateful for my amazing high school and college experiences.  I loved both!

In my household growing up, my father worked full time and managed the money.  My mother worked part time, but truly desired to stay home with her children.   

My brothers are 7 & 8 years older than me, so I was just a little kid when this financial strain of paying for private high schools and college came into the picture.

Little ears often hear things adults don’t intend for them to hear.  I really can’t say if I was eavesdropping or money talk was happening directly around me.  I don’t remember.

I knew money was tight and I heard my mom express her money worries.

From this experience, these are the beliefs I developed as a young adult.

  1. I was not going to be a teacher even though many people told me I was a natural and great with children.  Why?  Because teachers are notoriously not financially rewarded.
  2. My goal of college was a job that was financially secure.  This trumped following passions and the learning.  College was to get a job, not expand your mind.
  3. My solution to not having the same money worries as my mother was of course to marry a man who was financially secure.

Don’t get me wrong.  I had a great childhood, with amazing and loving parents. We never went without anything, and my needs were met physically and emotionally.

However, this household dynamic created a huge need for financial security within me.

Financial security was a driving factor in my choice of education, career, and partner.

It was an essential on my checklist.

I fully admit that my ex having a great job made him extra attractive to me.  It offered me that sense of security that I craved deeply.  I knew I would not need to worry about money like my mother. 

At the time my ex and I met in our mid 20s, he was making about the same amount as my father who would retire from teaching a few years later.  I was doing quite well too in my career. 

Ironically, I wanted the safety and security that I thought money would bring, but at the same time I wanted nothing to do with it.

It was not that I was bad with money at all– Some might have said I was savvy.  I wouldn’t say that I was savvy per se, I was just doing all the expected things you are supposed to do to create security.

I had a great job with fantastic benefits, plus some extras like a company car.  I contributed the maximum to my 401K account.  Then at the age of 24, tired of paying rent, I bought a condo!

The reason I wanted nothing to do with money was that the emotions I associated with money were worry and stress.

Before I continue this story, I want you to think back to your money memories from your childhood. 

What do you remember? 

Did your house have the message “money doesn’t grow on trees” or “money is the root of all evil?”

What money beliefs did you carry over from your childhood?  How does money make you feel? Are you fearful or frustrated?

When we can determine our beliefs around money, we can begin to change our perspective and have a healthier relationship with money.

Check back next week to learn how how money shaped my marriage story.

Let me know about your money story in the comments below.

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