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What do you wish you'd been taught about money as a kid?

Thread starter #1
Especially for everyone who struggled with childhood trauma, but also for others who received no or harmful education about money and finances... What do you wish you'd been taught about money as a kid?

During childhood trauma, I was "taught" some really unhelpful stuff about finances.

Things like:

- It's impossible to live on a small income
- Poverty = doom
- Finances are a scary, nightmarish issue and it's best to avoid the issue completely
- It's okay for (abusive) parents to buy random items they want, rather than feed and clothe their children
- Having a budget that covers everyone's basic needs is impossible
- Living within your means is impossible
- Having savings for emergencies is impossible
- Lack of money is a valid reason/ excuse to neglect and abuse children

I've struggled with my finances all my life, but have always somehow muddled through.

I think the "success" I've had with finances has all been fear based.

For example, I've always paid rent and bills as soon as I've gotten my monthly income, for fear of becoming homeless.

I've also been able to save some money for emergencies in the past, by completely ignoring my own needs for basic things like food, clothing, heating, etc, because that's what I was taught to do in childhood anyway.

I'm currently trying to get to a more rational, helpful headspace about money, finances, budgeting, saving.

But I'm finding that 95% of my "issues" with money and finances are from childhood trauma and are stuck in the "kid brain" part of my brain.

So I'm trying to use "teach your kids about money" websites to try and tap into the kid-brain core beliefs and behavioural patterns I have about money, like:

15 Ways to Teach Kids About Money

The 5 Most Important Money Lessons To Teach Your Kids

Anyway, I'm also wondering what others who experienced childhood trauma wish they'd been taught about money and finances?

Or if you want to vent about it, what unhelpful and abusive crap you *were* taught about money and finances?

Or, for those who didn't experience childhood trauma, what were the most helpful things you were taught about money? Can you explain these in a way that makes sense to people who learned only negative or useless messages about money during childhood?
 
#2
I'm sorry those were the lessons taught to you.

I had very different experiences.
I had to become independent very early in my family. I was told I needed to pay my phone bill and buy my food from age 16(they didn't do this for my siblings). So I got a job. Whilst I was living a home, I bought my clothes, cooked my dinners, sorted myself out really.
I think this was positive in some ways as it instilled an idea of being financially independent and resourceful. But also very negative as it reinforced the feeling of not being seen or heard . Trauma was happening to me (rape, CSE) and my parents really just abdicated any parental responsibility for me. They made me into an adult so that I was responsible for their emotional problems and they expected me to solve everything for them, including how they were parenting my (older) siblings. So it was too much. It was all tied up in their emotional abuse of me.

I also used the money I earned on drink and drugs. This then spiralled when I moved out aged 18 and spent my money on that rather than food etc ,and I needed money from my parents to manage (even though I always worked throughout all of this).

They gave me money, but it came with manipulation and control. And failure and negativity. They totally did not see the pain, drugs and drink or chose not to. No help.

It was only after I realised the drugs were too much and stopped that behaviour that I was then able to manage my finances, get myself out of debt.

So they instilled the practical sides of managing money. But messed up on the emotional side. I think we need both.
 
#3
When I was young we had no pocket money, no capacity to earn money and had no involvement in terms of using money for budgeting or anything else.

My parents completely ignored the fact that one day we would grow up and would need to understand about money, finances, budgets and the actual worth money has. So I think my parents did a massive disservice to my sisters and I.

However there is no way to learn like life and I learned hard and fast because I left home early. I've made lots of mistakes with money but I also regarded money with fear. I too had a panic reaction towards money and bills.

In some ways I was always way too generous with my own money & assets etc. I think I shrank away from the methods my parents used. I have never held onto things too tightly in the past but now that I'm getting older and my capacity for acquiring money is diminishing I am holding onto the little I do have more.

Overall, I think the entire concept of money is involved in abuse, trauma, addiction, crime, violence so much that I have a aversion to it. It's a necessary evil but nevetheless it's not what makes me happy and I'm sort of glad I understand that. I know it's what I need to get by and a fear of not having it... well it's like a constant underlying worry. I wonder if it's like that for everyone?
 
#4
I am now fiercely financially independent. Instilled from the emotional control of my parents and then aged 19, getting into a relationship where we had a shared bank account and money. That was a big mistake.
Now: I have money saved away. I work out my spending.
The online apps now are great in seeing spending. Really helps to have that instant access of knowing how much is in my account.
I have money aside for rainy days (if I lost my job tomorrow, I will be financially fine for a few months).
I need the financial stability. It's a way I have created control of my life and circumstances.
I think I have learnt about that more from the emotional abusive behaviour of my parents than their practical lessons of money management.
 
Thread starter #5
Thanks for the feedback @Movingforward10 and @blackemerald1 :)

What you wrote is very interesting.

I was told I needed to pay my phone bill and buy my food from age 16(they didn't do this for my siblings). So I got a job. Whilst I was living a home, I bought my clothes, cooked my dinners, sorted myself out really.
I agree that having a job as a teenager is helpful. And yeah, obviously more helpful if it's not in an abusive setting and/ or because of parental neglect.

I was "parentified" too by my parents, but also forbidden from getting a job, ostensibly "because I should focus on my school work" but basically to stop me having any independece/ access to my own money.

I was allowed to babysit for a while, but because I wasn't getting any money or basic needs met at home other than minimal food, that babysitting money was like water on a hot stone... It felt more like a joke, than the ability to earn money to even begin to meet my basic needs. Ugh... I'd rather not think about that, because there's so much painful stuff wrapped up in that, but that means I probably *should* look at it.

So they instilled the practical sides of managing money. But messed up on the emotional side. I think we need both.
Yes! Do you have any good tips/ resources/ ideas re "the emotional side of money"?

The book/ audio book I'm using atm is "Money a love story" by Kate Northrup.

I'm hoping the focus is all about the emotional aspects of money.

She's the daughter of Christiane Northrup whom I like very much and who's written the fantastic book "Women's bodies, women's wisdom" for all of us that grew up without a supportive mother who could pass women's wisdom on to us. (I can recommend this book very highly)

So I'm hoping her daughter's book about money and finances is equally emotionally healing and soothing.

When I was young we had no pocket money, no capacity to earn money and had no involvement in terms of using money for budgeting or anything else.
Yup, same :(

I remember getting pocket money from my family as a teenager, but it was a pitiful amount... It was what other families gave pre-schoolers or kids aged 5/6. I remember the shame of being given this essentially fake pocket money, and to this day I can't work out whether my parents were really that out of touch and delusional or whether it was out of sheer poverty (tho they were buying things for themselves) or just out of sheer neglect.

Overall, I think the entire concept of money is involved in abuse, trauma, addiction, crime, violence so much that I have a aversion to it. It's a necessary evil but nevetheless it's not what makes me happy and I'm sort of glad I understand that. I know it's what I need to get by and a fear of not having it... well it's like a constant underlying worry. I wonder if it's like that for everyone?
It's certainly like that for me. You've described it really well. I don't think it's like that for everyone, no. I think it's like that for a lot of people tho, and probably for most people who went through childhood trauma, where money was used in an abusive, punative way or was part of the neglect.

There's so many emotions around this topic, huh?

I have a lot of "financial emotional healing" to do.

The years I spent on Disability unable to earn my own money because the PTSD fallout was so severe, have also added lots of layers of emotional pain and shame to my toxic childhood experiences re money.

I am now fiercely financially independent.
Same here. Fiercly.

One exception for me: As I completed trauma therapy and moved into my mid-life phase, I decided to take a loan (credit) out for the first time in my life.
It was an incredibly scary experience, and not one I'm sure I'll repeat.
But I don't regret it.
I felt so unbelievably stuck at the time, and with a loan, I was able to take steps that were very positive and healing.

Also, the monthly pressure of having to repay the loan "or else" actually forced me to overcome some of my PTSD fears and avoidance, in a way that nothing else has been able to. When faced with the prospect of financial doom, I pushed so far beyond my usual boundaries, that it really turned into a deep growth opportunity. It was beyond exhausting - I felt like I was running a marathon every day, but it taught me a lot and built my strength up in ways that I and my therapist had previously thought was impossible.

Edit to add: I'm very sorry you both experienced similarly painful experiences about money and financial neglect/ abusiveness in childhood. I should have said that first. This topic overwhelms my brain so much, I don't even think of the most basic things to say properly... So yes, lots of compassion for all of us that struggled with this issue growing up.
 
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#6
I need the financial stability. It's a way I have created control of my life and circumstances.
I think I have learnt about that more from the emotional abusive behaviour of my parents than their practical lessons of money management.
^This is me too. Completely on point.

And in terms of control of my finances, even if it did stem from something really bad, it's good that I have that control now. It may have been a lousy way to learn about life but money either brings one undone or one gets control over it. That's not to say one needs to have a lot to have control but knows enough about it to understand it's function.
 
#7
Do you have any good tips/ resources/ ideas re "the emotional side of money"?
All I can say is what worked for me. I stopped avoiding and stopped being fearful of what money there was or wasn't (and this was a time when there wasn't money). I realised that avoiding looking at my bank balance didn't stop my bank balance being what it was (overdrawn).
I also really really really wanted to go to a cash point and not feel absolute dread about whether money was going to come out of not. (and even when I did have money, this dread at the cash point didn't leave for years!).

So I started to allow myself to face the reality of my financial situation and realise "I am in control of it, not the other way round".
I also realised that paying off debts a little bit at a time was better than not payin it off at all, and getting in worse debt. Again, facing the fear, not avoiding. And breaking the problem down. Ok, so it will take 5 years to pay off the credit card. But that's 5 years. It will go by.

And it did.
And then I learnt about better money management, like changing to interest free credit cards etc, so that the interest would always be 0% and it helped get the debt down quicker.

So all I can say for me it was facing the fear and learning to be in control.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
#10
This was a thing my T and I touched on this week!

I have a strong preference for a deferred gratification type of spending that feels like feast after famine. Sound like a financial equivalent of trauma bond to anyone else?

Working on spending disparity and expectations was something we had to discuss in our relationship early days and revisit with job changes / health changes / relocations.

childhood experience, and I also think the attitude one has for the ‘role modes ‘we had are huge. I can see why it must cause Issues when both roe feel their families got it right . For me I see that while I like my attitude ( adaptive to the abnormal circumstances....). It’s not always healthy in the current culture. So why defend or promote it in my marriage?

We found a system that works for us - but it stands improvements too.
 
Thread starter #11
I'm interested in what you think of this book. Can you tag me over in the reading thread when you've formed an opinion.. I'd be grateful.
What are you reading right now?
Sure!
I guess that means I'll have to read it now! :D

I've had the paper version of the book for quite a few years now, but find the topic so scary, I've still not read the book.
I bought the audiobook version this week in the hope that it'll be less of a hurdle to overcome.

I remember getting the book because she sort of looked at money metaphorically (if I remember correctly)... Sort of like "Money is what can help you achieve your goals and dreams" and "Spending money is about what you choose to invest time, effort and value in". And things like feeling gratitude for the money we do have and what options and what freedom it gives us.

Sounds like a good book, hey? :D
Guess it's time to stop avoiding it.
 
Thread starter #12
When I was a child, my parents taught me nothing about money. They did not want me to accidentally tell other kids anything about our finances. Maybe this taught me that I wasn't trustworthy, I don't know.
Yes... I remember so much financial secrecy in our household too. I could never work out whether we were as poor as my parents claimed or whether I was being lied to.

This was a thing my T and I touched on this week!
Cool :)
I have a strong preference for a deferred gratification type of spending that feels like feast after famine. Sound like a financial equivalent of trauma bond to anyone else?
Can you describe more of what you mean?

I live rurally now, so I buy a lot of my purchases online. I used to buy stuff on line because I got panic attacks in shops, so that combined with living rurally means online purchases are super practical.

But also "too easy" in a way... It's just a couple of mouse clicks to buy something that you suddenly think of.
So I'm actually going to try purposefully "delaying gratification" by putting things on an Amazon/ Ebay/ whatever "wish list" instead of purchasing them straight away. And then letting those things collect in the wish list during the month and at the end of the month, only purchasing things that I still think are sensible and necessary purchases.

But it sounds like you're talking about something more emotionally negative?


Another random financial childhood memory: Another thing that was really weird about my parent's financial choices: When they got married and we kids were young, they were financially comfortable, middle class with 2 incomes. Later, for a myriad of reasons including divorce and mental illness, they became quite poor.

But they never managed to adapt to that and always refused to give up the facade of a middle class lifestyle. So we'd live in houses we couldn't afford, in suburbs we could no longer afford, but umm... that was fine, because their kids were going without food and clothes... : /

All I can say is what worked for me. I stopped avoiding and stopped being fearful of what money there was or wasn't (and this was a time when there wasn't money). I realised that avoiding looking at my bank balance didn't stop my bank balance being what it was (overdrawn).
I also really really really wanted to go to a cash point and not feel absolute dread about whether money was going to come out of not. (and even when I did have money, this dread at the cash point didn't leave for years!).

So I started to allow myself to face the reality of my financial situation and realise "I am in control of it, not the other way round".
I also realised that paying off debts a little bit at a time was better than not payin it off at all, and getting in worse debt. Again, facing the fear, not avoiding. And breaking the problem down. Ok, so it will take 5 years to pay off the credit card. But that's 5 years. It will go by.
And yes! to all of this ^^

I'm trying to walk that path atm...

Watch me stumble and slip as I go :P but I'm determined to sort it out and stop being "afraid" of it.
 
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