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Will your kids inherit your ‘money personality’

By Jason Alderman

As parents, what we say and do regarding money can profoundly influence our children’s future financial habits. That’s a sobering thought for those of us who may not have always made the best financial decisions in our own lives.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t pass along your own bad financial habits – not to mention changing them for yourself before it’s too late?

One solution: Develop a clearer understanding of your relationship with money and how it influences your life, so you’ll know why you’ve made some of your financial decisions. For example, some people associate money with security and freedom, while for others it’s a cause of anxiety or dependence.

Ask yourself a few questions about how you view money: Is money the root of all evil, or does it pave the road to happiness? Would you rather brew your own coffee than buy a $3 cup? Are you more likely to use your holiday bonus to book a skiing vacation than to replace your car’s worn snow tires?

How you answer these and a host of other “money personality” questions is key to understanding – and possibly changing – your approach to personal financial management, according to nationally recognized financial psychology experts Jon and Eileen Gallo, authors of “The Financially Intelligent Parent” and “Silver Spoon Kids.”

The husband and wife team – she’s a money psychotherapist and he’s an estate-planning attorney – developed an online quiz with Visa Inc. designed to help you as consumers assess and measure different aspects of their money personality. Comprised of three interactive “rulers” that measure how individuals acquire, use and manage their money, the tool can be found at Practical Money Skills for Life, a free personal financial management Web site sponsored by Visa.

The quiz asks you to select one phrase from various choices that best fits your behavior around acquiring, using and managing money. Based on your responses, an overall money personality profile is created.

For example, you might be described as insatiable about acquiring money (“I’d break the law to make more money”), a miser when using it (“Going to the doctor when I’m sick is a waste of money”), and chaotic when managing your finances (“I wish the calls from collection agencies would stop”).

Your financial profile might also be much more balanced in some areas (“A weekend part-time job will help pay for that dream vacation,” or “I don’t keep track of my purchases but always spend within my means”). According to the Gallos, we develop our individual relationships with money based on messages received during childhood, as well as on how we mentally organize that information. There are no right or wrong answers; rather, by looking at your overall responses, you can develop a better understanding of how your relationship with money impacts your financial decisions.

Each of the quiz’s money relationship descriptions is matched to a corresponding financial management tip or educational resource. For example, if it’s clear you need help organizing your finances, you’ll be linked to budget planning calculators designed for just that.

Take a few moments for the Money Personality quiz. You might just learn a few things about yourself, and find ideas for changing certain traits you don’t want to pass along to your kids.



Jason Alderman directs the Practical Money Skills for Life program for Visa Inc. More budgeting and personal finance tips can be found at www.practicalmoneyskills.com. As always, consult a financial professional regarding your particular situation.


This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how tax laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.

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