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The Lessons My Parents Didn’t Teach Me About Money

Money lessons parents don't teach



Today’s post is from Glen at How To Save Money and Monster Piggy Bank. Enjoy!

I was fortunate when it came to having parents who taught me about finance and money management, although they only taught me what they knew. Looking back I can say that my parents had it mostly correct, but there are some things which I think they missed, things that I think are important and that I will be teaching my son as he grows up.


For someone who just said he was fortunate and that his parents taught him heaps about finance and money, you will be surprised to learn that my parents never taught me to budget – at least not in the traditional sense.

My parents didn’t sit down each month or year and decide that this is how they were going to allocate their money, and if they did, they never showed me any of it. Instead we were taught to set financial goals and to save up for things that we wanted.

This approach makes sense to me, but I think it is important to take children through the process of setting a formal budget. Even if the kids themselves don’t have one, I want to make sure my child is involved in the family budget so that they gain an appreciation of where the money comes from and where it goes.

 You can make money outside of the 9 to 5

I was always told that I should do well in school so I could get a good job when I was older. Aim high and achieve good results was what I was regularly told. The idea being that if I did well, I could go to university and end up getting a good job that paid well.

So that’s what I did (well, the grades weren’t as good as they could have been), however after only a few years the monotonous nature of going to work every day and working for someone else started to take its toll, and I was becoming terribly unhappy.

I felt like I was Bill Murray in that movie Groundhog Day. So I decided to look into anything else that would make me money outside of the daily 9 to 5 grind.

What I found was numerous opportunities like starting a business, internet marketing and a vast assortment of investments I had never heard of before. None of these were presented as options for me growing up, and so today I feel as if I was sold down a path by my parents without being given all the options.

The thing I take away from it all is that if I never entered the traditional workforce, I wouldn’t be as motivated as I am now to leave it. So in that regard it has been well worth my time and effort.

 Motivation is the biggest contributor to your financial success

Motivation is massively important if you want to get ahead financially. If you aren’t motivated to better yourself and your financial situation, then it just won’t happen. Growing up I was told simply to set goals, but without motivation to achieve those goals I may as well not have bothered.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think setting goals is critically important, but the goals should be relevant to you and should be for something that you are motivated to achieve. That is the main criticism I have of my parents in that regard.

When my parents  encouraged my brothers and I to set goals, they weren’t goals that we were all that interested it. They were goals that my parents set with us, but that were heavily influenced by their own ideas on what our goals should be like, not really what we wanted ourselves – so the end result was that we weren’t all that interested in achieving them.

 Learn about things

I want my son to learn not to be bound by what he currently knows. I want to encourage him to explore all the possible options and to learn about things he doesn’t currently know about. For too long I listened to my father when he told me that I could lose my money by investing in something like say the stock market, or that it was too difficult to make money outside of high interest savings accounts and working a steady job.

I want to teach my son to learn and experience things for himself and to make up his own mind. If I listened to my father regarding the stock market, then I would never have paid off my house 23 years ahead of schedule. His view was that the stock market was a mugs game and that no one ever made any money. I now know that this isn’t necessarily the case, and I have significantly benefited from learning and trying things for myself / making up my own mind.

Glen is the owner of How to Save Money, a personal finance website dedicated to helping people save money and find financial freedom. Glen recently paid off over $300,000 in mortgage debt within 7 years, and he wants to share his money saving tips with others to help them get on their way to financial freedom.

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Glen, I had just the opposite experience that you did growing up, my mom and dad gave me all kinds of financial knowledge and tools to succeed. It does make a huge difference, too!

    • That’s great that your parents were good role models for you – I agree, it can make a huge difference.

      Also, just to clarify – my parents did well in other areas. These were just the few that I now look back at and wonder how my life may have been different if I some of these points were addressed.

  2. I was never taught about budgeting, or much else in terms of finances growing up and definitely saw the impact of that as I got older. But, that has just given me opportunity to help them now. 🙂 In regards to the not making money outside of a 9-5 I think an important thing to remember is that was nowhere near as common as it is today. I know that’s at least the case for me. The internet has provided for a ton of that opportunity, which simply wasn’t around 20+ years ago.

    • That’s a good point John, the internet certainly has opened up a number of new opportunities that weren’t available when I was a child.

  3. My parents were also a good example to me in terms of saving and budgeting money. When I was little, I used to have my own jar where I would put my money . At the end of the month, we would empty the jar and put the money into my savings account.

  4. If there was one thing my parents did teach me about money, it was that I could earn more outside of the 9-5. They are both entrepreneurs and have worked in their own businesses for years.

    • The idea of owning a business never even occurred to me until I was close to 21. I still think it is the only real way to control your finances.

  5. My parents taught me a lot about how to be successful in life including a good work ethic and honesty. They also taught me the concept of value, getting the most for your dollar, saving, and spending less than you earn. But budgeting was something nobody ever taught me….and I would assume that’s true for many. Which is why I’m such a huge advocate for increasing financial literacy education in our school system…if the point of school is to prepare our children for their adult lives, why would we not be teaching these skills?

    • Not teaching kids about basic things like budgeting whilst they are in school, has been one of my biggest gripes for years. I t just doesn’t make sense to teach them so much useless stuff, but neglect something so fundamentally basic and important to a child’s future financial success.

  6. Although my dad is very good with money and does well financially, we were never taught anything about money either. We had very generous grandparents, but I almost think that was bad for my brother and I. We started setting expectations that someone else would be there to take care of us. Luckily I outgrew that for the most part, but my brother, well that’s another story. Money messages are powerful!

    • I also had fairly generous grandparents, so my brothers and I always looked forward to seeing them so we could pad our wallets a little more.

      It probably wasn’t the right message to send, but it did get us boys excited about seeing grandma.

  7. My parents definitely didn’t teach me about making money outside the 9-5, but I think it was hard for them to teach anything since they both worked and had a bunch of kids. That being said, I have an 8 year old son, and I look forward to teaching him what I didn’t know and I hope that my experiences will (or lack thereof) will enhance his life and make him better for it.

    • That’s what I plan on doing as well. I just want to make sure that my son has all the information that he needs to make the best decisions for his own life.

  8. My parents never really budgeted but they were very wise about how and when they spent money. They never possessed a credit card and saved up to pay cash for everything other than cars and their house. They taught me to always pay bills on time and never spend money on yourself if you owed someone else (an individual, not the mortgage). The thing they didn’t teach me was investing, which was different from saving. They grew up in the depression and all they remember was people losing their money in the stock market. Therefore, they would only put money in the bank and CDs. I think they forgot that many banks closed during that time also. Anyway, they felt the stock market was a sure loser and I should never “play the market”. Fortunately, I learned more about it and with laws passed after the depression to prevent that sort of catastrophe again, I feel save in investing there….and then watch it like a hawk!

    • I dislike it when people only ever tell you the bad things about an investment opportunity. I try to remain impartial and present all possible scenarios that I can think of, that way the individual can decide on the best way forward.

      My dad was always really skeptical of the stockmarket – so I didn’t enter it until quite late, and I missed out on heaps of opportunities. Fortunately I saw the error of my ways and now I have stocks as a part of my balanced portfolio of investments.

  9. I don’t think my parents (or people of their generation) thought much about doing things outside of the 9 to 5 to earn money. Really, there were not as many options for their generation, other than work an evening job. Technology (and the Internet) have certainly created more options for finding other sources of income.

    • True, but as Grayson mentioned – many people were still able to start their own businesses and generate wealth that way. Plus, many very big companies that exist today, were founded during the time I was a child – all it takes is an idea, and some business smarts.

  10. Love this, Glen! I think very few parents teach their kids about budgeting. In some instances, it’s because they don’t follow one themselves, but many times they simply don’t think their kids need to know. While our girls don’t know every item on our budget, we do get their buy-in when it comes to how we spend the family money. And both girls manage their own back-to-school budget with a little help from Mom, of course. To me, it’s so important that the girls see budgets as their friend, not the their enemy, and to realize that budgets help them use their money on what matters most and live a great life. Motivation is huge a one too. I actually see this or the lack of in my financial planning practice. Whenever clients are noncommittal about their goals, I know they didn’t set authentic goals, but goals they either thought they should set or their goals were set by others for them. It makes a huge difference. These are all great lessons to impart on your son, Glen and will make a huge difference in his life.

  11. Awesome post, Glen!!! Love what you said about not being bound by what you currently know. Knowledge and the willingness to continually be open to learning can yield so much success in life.

  12. What a great article. It definitely starts at home. My parents were both spenders. When my mom passed away a few years ago she left my dad with a mountain of debt. They took out a home they couldn’t afford. My dad has zero savings. At one time my dad was grossing $150k a year. He was a contractor. Also, my parents had a cafe for 12 years. It was sold when my mom passed away. My dad’s government contracts dried up as well. The only thing he has left is social security, and a summer gig selling ice cream on the beach. The ice cream gig can be quite nice, but that’s all dependent on the weather.

    Here I am in Thailand and you’d think I would have learned from my parents mistakes. Nope. I just went broke and have $20 to my name. No goal setting, nothing. Just spend spend spend. Hopefully, I can learn from this event. Hopefully, it will make me a better person.

    • Sometimes hitting bottom is what you need to make changes. If you’re reading personal financial blogs, that’s a good place to start. Best of luck with making better financial choices.

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