Recently many people have spoken to me about their attitude towards money. In case of people I know for the past 30-40 years, largely the impact of their childhood on their ‘money-psyche’ has been of tremendous importance. Having said that, attitude towards money is not always the same even for siblings. My sister and me have different attitudes towards money.

It is possible that my sister has taken after my father and I have taken after my mother. So how you treat money depends on your early (would say first) memory of money. When you were say 7-9 years old your parent may have asked you to buy some household item. Was that your first memory of money? Rarely would elders remember ‘money’ related incidents before the age of 7, but I am no child psychologist.

Similarly did money make you happy or sad? Did you get it when you wanted it? For elders to have a ‘happy mindset’ or ‘abundant mindset’ a happy money childhood is necessary. In case of couples where one has had a happy money memory and the other person has had a sad money memory, there is a lot of ‘money’ related friction. Also how much of your cultural heritage is related to money? Is it possible that you belonged to a ‘education oriented family’ which thought money was the root cause of all evil?

Or did you belong to a business family where ‘Lakshmi (Indian Goddess of Wealth) Pooja was the most important pooja where the whole family participated. In case of ‘brahminical’ families where talking about money was considered to be ‘taboo’ even the adults find it difficult to handle success (as in money). There is a ‘guilt’ feeling that ‘my riches have come by depriving someone else’!

During your school days how important was money in the decision making process? Did your parents fight about money? Did one parent give you money without telling the other parent? Was there financial congruence amongst your parents or did they find it difficult to agree on anything. Did you get a feeling that one parent was willing to splurge while the other cringed? How did your attitude about which parent was right change after you started running your own family.

Did the hero and villain change completely after you matured? All these questions are actually chiseling and sculpting your views on money. Did your parent change jobs or change location for money? Was the breadwinner ever unemployed – and did it have any impact on the family life style? Have you seen your parent ask his friends or his parent for financial help? Were you old enough to understand the implication? Did your career choice depend on what fees you parent could afford? Historically did your grandparents belong to the same social strata as you do today?

What happened to your parents during the difficult times? Was it communicated that ‘now times are difficult, so we will change our lifestyle’ or did it not happen? The way the parents communicated about money also plays an important role. If you were told ‘Go and take money from my purse’ you are likely to have a more abundant attitude than if you were told ‘give me account of what you did with the Rs. 24 I gave you last week’. Asking children to keep track of their money is a great habit, but if it becomes an obsession – and they are constantly ticked off for ‘being irresponsible’ by splurging, it can backfire.

Oh there are more posts to come..regarding ‘attitude towards money’ ….not sure when

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  1. Nice post! I believe when we sincerely answer these questions, our perspective to money would become a little clearer.

  2. my wife earns more than me,but i am lucky that she listens to me(the saver of the two) about investments and tip to her was to not splurge impulsively for 2 months -ie delay gratification for a bit,and then go out and buy the things she desired in the third month . what this does is,it helps prioritize her spending.she realizes how much ‘wasteful’ expenses can be avoided by bunching ‘impulsive’purchases to once in three months. there is never a time,she overspends now!.plus,i dont cringe if she goes overboard and buys stuff which i feel is useless.she deserves it for delaying gratification.
    i think delaying gratification is the attitude one needs to teach ones kids.-and not act like a dictator demanding to know how they spend their pocket money. it is their sense of priorities after all and they’ll get to the right combination by trial and error-as long as they have understand how to avoid the temptation of instant gratification

  3. @Pravin
    In the book “Emotional Intelligence ”
    Daniel Goleman says that delayed gratification is one of the key building blocks of successful people..

  4. “There is a ‘guilt’ feeling that ‘my riches have come by depriving someone else’!”
    Not at all… When one performs honest work, wealth is usually created..
    For eg, consider a potter.. He takes clay which is almost worthless and makes it into a pot, costing around Rs 30.. Where did Rs 30 come from? He literally “created” it by his work and intelligence.. Suppose he makes the same pot into a piece of art and sells it for Rs 500.. Where did this extra Rs 470 come from.. He “created” it ..

    This guilt that you talked about is mainly spread around by mysticists and socialists who want rich people to feel guilty, so that they can “share” this wealth.. which is but an euphemism for taking the wealth..

  5. Dr Khan

    We are lucky to be Indians. Remember Ayn Rand WAS a great thinker..but she spent her last few years needing care. Somewhere doing things for the general well being is far more satisfying. Her book ‘Art of selfishness’ actually goes against the Bhagwat Gita. BG says concentrate so not worry about the consequences. Many years later Swami Vivekananda said the same thing: Concentrate. Look at Sachin. This poor 16 year old kid coud not have counted 2000 crores when he started playing cricket. Today he has it, but plays cricket with the hunger of a 16 year old wanting to prove himself…

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