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What we say to ourselves around money, our internal narrative is not always our own words.


This week in the second article of the Exploring Your Financial Capacity Series.

We’re looking at identifying and understanding familial and generational money beliefs and behaviours that have been passed down to us. I find tracing back the origin and reasons for that perspective or opinion can help decide if we carry these ideas going forward because they make our financial lives better, or if we let them go. This is a very effective way to understand and shift your financial capacity.

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Just a little recap for those just jumping in. In the last article, we discussed the shortfalls of modern-day monetary advice. I introduced the idea of our Financial Capacity, so head here if you haven’t read it yet. 

Our Financial Capacity is our invisible container of wealth, money and abundance we allow ourselves. It is impacted by many factors. They include societal systems and conditioning, our relationship to confidence and doubt, understanding the environment we are working in but today’s deep dive is looking at what we’ve been told, shown or experienced by earlier generations of our family or community and deciding if it’s still relevant to you today.

When working with a client individually, it is pretty easy to have a conversation and to hear immediately sentences, phrases, beliefs and experiences that they believe as true and correct. But it’s not until we examine these ideas or statements that we can actually decipher, are they? 

Our brains are very good at taking information at a young age, setting up an existing ‘program’ or repeat pattern or set of rules to survive in this world. It’s how we learn about the world.

The problem arises when that particular set of rules doesn’t work for us. Doesn’t allow us to live a true-to-self life. It takes us further from our equilibrium or our own needs and desires.

So today we’re exploring the idea of Generation Differences and Parental Influences on our Financial Capacity.

I have a little exercise, grab the download, a pen and highlighter.

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Exploratory exercise:

Think back to when you were a child, think of your earliest money memory. Look around your life, see the house you lived in, the car the family drove, they way your parents behaved and write down the answers to these three questions under the relevant columns of you, your parents or your grandparents.

Task One.

Using descriptive words, list down how your house, car, birthday gifts, Christmas’, meals, clothes and belonging LOOKED. To you, not anyone else. Where they flashy? Mediocre? Like everyone else? A little shabby? Just list the words down. Then write next to your parents and grandparents any stories or pictures you’ve heard and seen that describe how their lives looked from the outside.

Task Two.

Think back to discussions in your house, words that were SPOKEN. What did you or your parent say about money, life, purchases or what they could afford. Was it positive, neutral or negative? Were there no discussions? Was there a common phrases? Fill in the columns for each of the generations. What stories were told? What realities did they face? Did your grandparents survive a war or famine? Did they have to leave possessions or a home?

Task Three.

Finally we want to capture the words of how you FELT. How did money feel as a child? What did you observe about your parents and how it felt? Do any memories stick out? Can you imagine how your grandparents felt going through their experiences? Write all these words down.

This may be an easy exercise for some people and not so easy for others, depending on your childhood. So go slow, be gentle with yourself.

Now it’s time to grab a highlighter, or circle any similarities between the three generations.

Can you see your parents repeating any behaviours, words or feelings from your grandparents?

Is there a need for repeating these experiences?

Did their environment or situation call for those actions or words?

Have you repeatedly said, felt or experienced stories or situations that were your parents, but not truly yours?

The impact of this exercise is that we can then examine, what has been carried forward that is truly relevant to the my experiences, and are not just repeat patterns from a different generation.

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Here are some examples I have heard from clients:


–  my childhood felt like it was very frugal, that grocery shopping was anxiety-inducing excursion even though my parents were very middle class. My mother would tell stories about my grandmother not being able to afford bread.

– my parents would argue about money when we went to bed, they thought we couldn’t hear them. I wondered why because we had everything we needed. Apparently my grandparents used to argue at night also, but that was during the war.

– my grandmother would tell a story about travelling from her home country to Australia with 5 pounds on her, she had to work hard everyday to make the money she did and she wasn’t giving it to anyone else, they had to work hard themselves to earn money.

– my dad would always say money doesn’t grow on trees.

– my mother spent money for pleasure, I think she was so unhappy elsewhere in life she couldn’t help herself, it frustrated dad. Now I use money to seek out pleasure often.

– my dad earned the money, my mum spent it.

– you need to save for a rainy day, because no-one’s going to come to your rescue.


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Acknowledging generational differences is significant to understanding your financial capacity. Don’t underestimate this exercise.

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We at times can carry forward familial stories even when they are NO LONGER RELEVANT to our current lives.

For example, the first point above about grocery shopping being an anxiety-inducing experience. It may have very much have been difficult for a grandparent, during a war when there were not many provisions or available money. When families went through periods of time when there was only flour or potatoes. But that is not the case today, it is potentially constricting your financial capacity.

A point to note, is that in this exercise we’re not discounting the experiences of our parents or grandparents. They did actually experience famine or war, or being a single parent during a time of no social support. Money didn’t grow on trees, they had to live with relatives, or use second-hand furniture because there was no other option.

There is a positive effect of just acknowledging what is truly relevant to your current life, that acts as a way of expanding your financial capacity when you know with certainty that this was not your reality, you have other choices.

Head to the next article in the series Expanding Your Financial Capacity here.


Or would you like to head back to the first article, where we explain what our Financial Capacity is and the Shortfalls of Modern Monetary Advice. It’s super interesting!


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