Five bad money habits you picked up from your parents

By Nicole Webb 2 February 2019 3 min read

Our parents have one of the largest impacts on our relationship with money.

They ingrain our values, expose us to their ideologies and shape our future selves.

While our parents probably taught us some of our greatest lessons – how to tie our shoes, tell the time and fill out paperwork for our first job – we may have picked up some less than favourable habits from them too.

And unfortunately sometimes smart people make poor money decisions.

To break that nexus, you have to be aware of the things that you have been exposed to, so you can un-learn the cycle and earn your financial independence.

1. Living pay cheque to pay cheque

For one in three (around 33 per cent) of Australians, all of their money is spent by pay-day.

It’s more common than you think and doesn’t discriminate whether you are working or middle class.

It’s an uncomfortable strategy because it leaves you totally and completely exposed when those emergencies and one-off expenses come up.

The outcome is often a reliance on short term debt like payday loans and credit cards to sustain this lifestyle.

The trouble is that this method can have long term consequences and stifle your path to financial freedom.

2. Avoiding investments

It’s normal to avoid the unfamiliar.

Investments are often seen as sophisticated, complex and only for the well-heeled. At Spaceship, we’re trying to change that!

If you’re avoiding investments, you’re ignoring a crucial part of growing your net worth and wealth. That is harnessing the power of compound interest and market growth.

Luckily, in recent times, a new shift has been ushered in by a renewed focus on increasing the levels of financial literacy, prevalence of superannuation (most of us have it and we know it’s growing our retirement savings), new advice tools and services like robo-advice.

All these things have made investing more widely accepted and accessible.

3. Overcompensating through stuff

Most of us are irrational, predictably so, and can be tempted to spend when we are angry, sad, jealous, or feel inadequate.

According to a US study, nearly one in two people (49 per cent) say emotions cause them to spend more than they can reasonably afford.

Retail therapy might seem fairly harmless.

But if we put it into perspective, one in six Australians or around 1.9 million people are struggling with debt that they are unable to repay.

Emotional spending can often be a substitute for other vices, just like gambling or alcohol.

And if left alone, emotional spending can lead to financial damage.

4. Instant gratification

This one has only grown in popularity since those little plastic cards came along that enabled us to buy things, without actually having the cash to purchase them.

Credit cards were introduced to Australia in 1974 allowing us to purchase things without needing our own money.

The flow-on effects are clearly visible now.

It’s normal and okay to want and have things we haven’t paid for.

But buy now pay later services like Zip Pay and Afterpay are the modern-day extension of this.

The average Afterpay purchase is under $150.

So we can relax right? People using Afterpay aren’t using it to live a life of excess.

But think about this, the average person using Afterpay can’t afford to pay for their $150 purchase outright.

While buy now pay later services may be harmless in small amounts, the repeated behaviour of using someone else’s money does nothing to encourage you to earn your financial independence.

5. Loaning money to others

While it's nice of you to want to help others, don't overextend yourself because your aunt, cousin or sister needs money.

Take care of yourself and your family first, and then you are in a far better position to offer financial support to others if you want to.

Just maintain and stick to your boundaries.

It’s useful to learn how our emotions can influence your money decisions. This way, you can learn how to not repeat the same money mistakes over and over again.

Otherwise, you risk footing the bill for your emotions.

Five bad money habits you picked up from your parents