How My Childhood Shaped My Relationship With Money & My Bad Habits

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For a lot of people, talking about money is taboo. It’s one of those things that’s frowned upon, like asking a woman her age right?! Uh no. I’ve never subscribed to either of those beliefs and I’ve always found them to be absurd.

One of the reasons I decided to share more about our family’s financial journey, is I never want people to see us here or on instagram and think that our life is all sunshine and rainbows.

Growing up, we talked a lot about money in my family. My parents were always open about it, and my dad who and really good with money tied into every aspect of our everyday life.

Backstory

My mom and dad got divorced when I was two. By all accounts, the divorce was really ugly and a lot of money was lost, but for as long as I can remember my parents were extremely friendly and super supportive of each other. If there’s one thing they ever disagreed on, it was how much stuff was too much.

When I was a kid, I thought we were rich. My dad took his role as the provider for our family extremely serious, and there was never anything he wasn’t willing to do or buy for us…all of us. There were never any fights about child support, and as early as age, I remember always having money in my pocket.

My mom, started working when she was 14 to help out when her parents were divorced. Before that, my grandma had been a stay-at-home mom. I think that living through that, made my mom fiercely independent — and determined to never rely on someone else to take care of her.

The irony is, at 19 years-old she met my dad whose only desire in life was to have a family and be a provider. He even showed up at her house weeks after meeting her, with a brand new fur coat to woo her. She wasn’t impressed y’all.

My dad grew up a little differently. His family was well off. My paternal grandma’s family was well off. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard that “Grandma’s family were never slaves — they owned land” and “in 1930 when they moved to St. Louis, they came in a Cadillac and bought a house in cash”.

On the other hand, my paternal grandpa, live on a plantation until he was 12 or 13, had to get notes to leave the property, and wasn’t too sure about his actual birth day.

My dad’s father worked while his mom stayed home, and although they had 12 children, my dad never had to share a room.

I think that shaped him and his beliefs about money.

My Childhood Experiences With Money

My mom and dad were always open about how much money we had, had much they made, the cost of bills, private school, etc. Money was never tight. My parents worked hard, I had everything I needed and wanted, and there was never any worry or concern about how things would get paid.

Both my parents spoiled me, but my dad’s love language is giving gifts — seriously. He bought us gifts on all the regular holidays, plus his birthday and Father’s Day.

My mom was a good saver, but my dad was a money whiz. He was an entrepreneur and owned several properties. Sometimes they’d partner in business, because for them the goal was always generational wealth and family. He emphasized the importance of keeping some cash on hand, saving, investing, and having multiple streams of income.

He also was the poster child for Treat Yo’self.

One of the most impactful things my dad ever said to me was “I never wanted to have to tell my children ‘no’ because I couldn’t afford something. If the answer was no, it was going to be because I said so, and never because I didn’t have the money”. And he kept that promise. Even today at 34, I can only count on one hand how many times he ever said no to me. My mom said no more often, but she wasn’t much better. I’ve always carried that with me and wanted to be the same way with my children.

Even though I was spoiled, I was always aware, grateful, and never entitled. I recognized, the hard work and sacrifices my parents made to give me such a wonderful life. Although we lived well, it was never enough to keep it to themselves. My mom and dad were both extremely generous — and often helped family, friends, and strangers. They always instilled in me that it was my responsibility to help others, and they would adopt families year-round, not just during the holidays. Even divorced, they would come together to help people in need. If someone was in a crisis that money could solve, one or both of my parents were the first call.

From ages 5-11, my dad would give my little brother $50-$75 a week in allowance. When we turned 12, it increased to $100. He even gave me money for good grades. A’s were $100 and B’s were worth $50. Needless to say, I made the honor roll for years. By then, I had become an entrepreneur myself earning money by making jewelry and clothes — and by the time I was in high school, I was rolling in dough from my side hustles and mt parents.

It’s embarrassing to say out loud, but my dad asked me if I needed money every week until I was 28. He even bought me brand new SUV, and paid the insurance. I never thought too much about it because I knew he could afford it.

A Bad Romance (with Money)

Despite knowing all the right things to do, I was always pretty bad with money until I was about 30. Making money was never an issue, but I never saved any either. I was a shopaholic and overspender. I used to love walking into the mall — the air, the lighting, the warm and tingly feeling I’d get was addicting. I loved everything about the experience, and I’ve spent more than I’d like to admit on sequin emblazoned everything at Justice, Legos, Pottery Barn, Vera Bradley backpacks, and whatever other brands all the brands suburban moms were buying their kids. And don’t even get me started on Louis Vuitton. I never had credit cards, but I would spend ALL MY MONEY as soon as I made it. I justified doing it, because my bill we always paid.

I’ll be the first to say that my relationship with money and my mindset towards it has had it’s advantages. Money has never had a negative stigma and I’ve never associated it with fear or lack in my life. I’ve always believed that I can do or have whatever I want if I work for it because that’s what my parents modeled for me. But the sense of security my money beliefs gave me, lead to years of bad habits and poor choices with my finances in my 20’s that haunted me until recently.

Old Money Beliefs

  1. Money comes to me easily, so enjoy it.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with spending money. If I run out, I’ll always get more.
  3. Better yet, I’ll never run out.
  4. I can save money later.
  5. I work hard, so my kids and I deserve nice things.
  6. It’s okay to be a shopaholic as long as your bills are paid.
  7. You don’t need credit, if you have cash.

Struggle Bus

In 2017, my marriage was in a terrible place. Honestly, our relationship started off great, but our marriage was a mess from the beginning. I had two pretty rough pregnancies (spending one on bedrest), I was in the throes of depression and Jordan found himself financially supporting a family six by himself, after having to only take care of himself for 35 years. During that time, I had a cancer scare, and the medical and household bills were crushing us. As you can imagine, it got ugly. Can you guess why?

I’ll tell you: we had no money saved.

At the time, my dad and I were’nt talking, and I could’nt bring myself to call him up and ask for money. Jordan‘s parent’s stepped in a helped us A LOT, and I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars. Jordan grew up in family whose values were very much like my parents. They made smart decisions with their money and when we needed them they didn’t hesitate to step in.

In 2019, by the grace of God and after taking a long, hard look at myself — I won my battle with PTSD and depression and got back to work. The money was rolling in again, and with our two incomes, the stress was almost completely gone! We were able to save a little bit of money, start paying off debt, move into a bigger house!

Then we separated and he moved out. We’d literally just made it to the point that we could live on my income and save his. Then I was back to being a single mom and all the money WE were supposed to be saving, was wasted on maintaining a separate apartment for him.

In January 2020 we got back together, but we were stuck paying for the other place until his lease was up. Then the pandemic hit.

A Blessing In Disquise

Even though we were in the midst of a pandemic, I continued working from home, and he took paid leave from work. He continued to pay the rent on the apartment until his lease was up in May and we were still able to save $600-$1200 each month. In June, we made the decision as a family that we didn’t feel comfortable with him returning to work. Even being back to one income, we were able to keep saving money. When I left my corporate job in November, we continued to stash a little money away. While on leave, he started working on his blog and we started a business together. This year, we’re going to at least double our corporate salaries, and we’ve been making consistent progress to replace our bad money habits with good ones.

Financial literacy is a major focus for our family this year, because we have some aggressive goals — including doing a huge overhaul of our finances, and building our dream house with a mountain view, in Jordan‘s home state of Montana!

After being careless with money for most of my life, then dealing with the consquences over the last few years, we’re ready to take control of our finances and set an example for our kids.

I’ve revisited my old money beliefs and the lessons my parents were trying to teach me. Now that I’m older and I’ve gone through some things, I realize that the reason I was able to have such an abundant childhood, was because my parents had their priorities and finances in order —something I didn’t do until recently. Because of the choices they made, I had nearly every advantage a child could have, and I started my career without student loan debt. Jordan and I have the responsibility to do the same for all four of our kids, and we’re going to be super transparent with them about the struggles and wins along the way.

We’re definitely keeping the “money comes easily” energy, but it’s time to create some new, healthy habits and get serious about setting our black children up with generational wealth.

New Money Beliefs for 2021

  1. Take advantage of your high earning years.
  2. It’s cool to be on a budget… Budget, budget, budget.
  3. Being intentional with our money is better than spending it all.
  4. Use your credit responsibly.
  5. Saving and investing our money is the best way to guarantee our family and our children are always taken care of.
  6. Treat yo’self…with respect to the budget.

We’re off to good start in rebuilding our finances and credit, and we’re super excited to share more with you guys! Are you good with money or are you rebuilding your finances? Stay tuned for more, and let me know what other topics you want to see me tackle in the comments below?

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