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Are you childish about money? The origins of our money mindsets

Image of a kid as a superhero: Our money mindsets are often shaped by our childhood

Covid restrictions were easing, and I was mildly thrilled to be in the garden of some dear friends – a couple I’ve known for decades.

Thanks to lockdown building works, their house had grown since I’d last seen them. So had their twin boys.

But my friends still had some personal growth to do.

They’ve always bickered. They were bickering again and to be honest that was also comforting.

But it seemed a shame.

My friends were past the hard slog phase of their life. Yet they didn’t seem ready to enjoy the sunny uplands.

Happy holidays?

“Finally we can get away after 12 months in this house and I don’t want to be arguing about spending £50 on a few croissants at the hotel,” he said.

“It’s not a hotel – it’s a horse farm!” she protested. “And it won’t be croissants – it’ll be a bowl of cornflakes.”

“She’s annoyed because we’re going to Wales. And she’s too tight to understand the value of giving the boys an experience like learning to ride.”

“I’m not annoyed. But it’s going to be raining and it’s going to cost £3,000 for five days and you wouldn’t let me even look for a cheaper place to stay.”

“She’s annoyed because we’re not flying to Portugal. Even though we would spend more if we did!”

“I just want to get value for my money. Not rain in Wales.”

“Well I paid for it anyway! I want the boys to burn off some energy, and we can easily afford it. This place is great – friends told us about it. Why spend hours bickering about £50 on breakfast?”

“I just believe we can get the same experience for half the price,” she said. “Maybe somewhere warm, too.”

“Get this…” he sighed. “She wants us to drive there – to Wales, for seven hours – because the hotel is a few miles from the station and I said we’d just get a taxi. She’s complaining taxis are a waste of money. As if seven hours driving isn’t a waste of time.”

“It’s not a hotel – it’s a horse farm. And I don’t want to be the mug that turns up from London in my Hunter wellies with banknotes falling from every pocket. I am not that dumb bitch!”

That silenced us all for a moment.

Meet their money mindsets

So, you think you have a handle on this pair?

London is expensive. Raising children, too, and they have twins. A double helping of expenses moving through their budget like an anaconda swallowing a turkey.

Money is tight. One of them thinks this is best addressed by a staycation. The other by saving on avoidable expenses like paid-for breakfast and taxis.

We can see both sides, right?

But here’s the twist: money isn’t tight for this couple.

Both of my friends – who are not married and have always kept their finances separate – are now (multi) millionaires in their own right.

True, being a millionaire isn’t what it used to be.

But clearly they can afford a mini-break in (lovely, incidentally) Snowdonia.

“Why is she squabbling over this? Can you talk some sense into her? She listens to you. I don’t want to be faffing over fifty quid for the rest of my life when I could be enjoying myself. We have – what – 30 years left? Maybe 20 good ones. You know us well enough for me to say this… We could afford to take the same holiday every week for the rest of our lives. Every single week!”

It didn’t seem like the best time to bring up sustainable withdrawal rates.

“He seems to think having money means it’s perfectly okay to be taken advantage of. Well I don’t. I’ve shopped around for cheaper flights and better deals all my life. Why should I stop now? It’s careless.”


Now we were getting to the bottom of it.

How they made it

Some context before we get to the money shot.

He has always had money. Born into relative privilege – public schools, annual skiing holidays, aggressively spendthrift friends in his 20s – he was also unfortunate enough to inherit early.

She had a far harder upbringing. Messy home life. University the escape route. By her own admission she was fortunate to join the small company she did 15 years ago. But she worked most weekends to stay at the top.

Last year her company was acquired. Years of stock grants paid out.

So on paper they now have roughly the same net worth.

The snag is that what their net worth represents to them (and how they obtained it) means that they see money (and how to use it) very differently.

His and hers

He has never had to worry about money. He has had other hardships (as I said both parents died young) but solvency has never been his concern.

He’s seen money used as a tool since childhood. His family speculates, invests, wins and loses, and celebrates freely when things go right.

And while I wouldn’t want to suggest he was on the shortlist for the Bullingdon Club, he has certainly moved in circles where to spend money without any visible care is a virtue, rather than a vice.

Her childhood was much more threadbare.

But it’s not just that she now wants value for money for financial reasons.

It’s that saving money, shopping around, getting deals, not being that ‘dumb bitch’ as she put it – these things have defined her.

He is a product of his upbringing, though maybe harder for many of us around here to identify with. Fretting about £50 is demeaning. It spoils things. Begrudging spending on friends and family is somehow unloving.

For her the price of avoiding being a slave to money is eternal vigilance.

For him that very vigilance is being a slave to money!

Their different life experiences – and these resultant money mindsets – are animating how they interact with money today, and fueling their conflict.

Money is child’s play

Perhaps ironically, the older I get the more I see how such childhood experiences shape our later attitudes.

This is universal. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

But it’s worth figuring out how your money mindset was formed in order to avoid some of these problems.

Perhaps your parents had a scarcity mindset? They never risked changing jobs or rocking the boat at work. Only saved in cash – nothing riskier like shares. Urged you to get and keep a stable job.

Or maybe one parent was a sometime successful creative? Lurching from feast to famine. Ending up with riches – but before then vanishing from your life for five crucial years when things were going badly?

Did you live in a big house from the day you left the hospital because your grandmother inherited a fortune?

Or maybe your family has never had money. Nobody went to university, either. All this seems like science-fiction to you. But you have come across the concept of financial freedom and you’re wondering if you can have it, too.

All these different experiences will shape how you think about money. And often in contrary ways! We rebel as much as we follow an archetype.

The key is understanding where you came from, and how much is still relevant to your life today.

Our money mindsets must move on

In picking her battles over small amounts of money when she now has bags of it, my friend is a bit like a Japanese World War 2 soldier stuck on a Pacific Island in the 1970s.

Still fighting a war that in their minds never ended.

I know a couple of self-made people from modest upbringings who hate their work now but they just will not stop. They say they don’t want their kids to ‘suffer’ like they did (and their parents did) by having to worry.

They intend to leave their kids a small fortune to solve this.

What they don’t realize is that with their private school education, top-flight university degrees, and a decade of bringing similarly well-off friends back to the family home at weekends, their children are in a thoroughly different place to them already.

Indeed if they really want to worry about their (blamelessly) entitled kids’ relationship with money – sort of futile, I suspect – they should start thinking about very different problems altogether.

But you can hardly fault the motivation.

At the other end of the spectrum, in my professional life I’ve also seen people make a lot of money and become obnoxious. Leave partners, laugh at those who cashed out with less, grow awful goatee beards. They try to be something they’re not – at least until the hedonic adaption kicks in.

Thankfully it seems to be just a phase they go through.

In these cases it’s hard not to see the geek who was laughed at in school still trying to show the world they’re worthy of respect.

A spending plan

I’m no psychologist and I’ve struggled with this money mindset stuff myself.

For example I wrote about how as soon as I earned more than my father, I took my foot of the gas.

I don’t think earning a fortune is the be-all. But I do think that was a dumb reason not to earn more.

Then there is my internal debate over frugality versus simply being a tightwad.

Still, I don’t let my own issues and failings hold me back from giving my friends my unqualified advice.

I explained to my friends that I thought they were each acting out their childish beliefs. No offence!

And I suggested they create a joint ‘rest and recreation’ account that they funded with significant cash inflows every month. Approaching five-figures between them.

Family adventures could be funded from this account, which they can easily afford indefinitely.

They were not to squabble over spending this money. That was the whole point. At the same time they should be alert to their transferring the bickering to another aspect of their financial lives.

(They are looking to buy a new house soon. And I know in that battle I will be solidly backing her view instead…)

Mini-me, mini-you

My friends’ issue may seem like a high-quality problem to have.

Most of us could do with more money. We are best-advised to book holidays months in advance so that we get more value from looking forward to the experience, stretching our spending further.

In contrast my friends need to stop shrinking the dividend from their quality time. They are doing this by turning every indulgence into an argument.

But wherever we are ourselves, the takeaway lesson is universal.

Your inner child is still trying to pull the purse strings. If you don’t notice how then you will be doomed to misunderstand money all your life.

Can you see a little you telling you what to do? Share your money mindsets in the comments below

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • 1 NewInvestor May 20, 2021, 2:20 pm

    Going on holiday to Wales is not a staycation.

    Staying at home in London and taking day trips to various attractions or places whilst taking leave from work is.

    Not sure where the confusion on this matter originates from but it seems increasingly widespread.

  • 2 DavidV May 20, 2021, 3:18 pm

    I agree with NewInvestor. I’m confused why this usage of ‘staycation’ has so quickly come into such common usage, completely negating the usefulness of the word for expressing its original meaning.

  • 3 Matthew May 20, 2021, 4:30 pm

    You can have money but out of principle expect that those who serve you are fairly paid (and not excessively) paid for what they do – so you don’t end up overewarding someone who doesn’t earn it, or who ends up sniffing around you not because they care about giving you good service but want another meal ticket. You could have a sour taste in the mouth if you feel you’re being exploited even if you can afford it.

  • 4 xxd09 May 20, 2021, 4:32 pm

    Good luck with changing peoples basic attitudes and beliefs including ideas about money
    Hard wired into them by genes and upbringing-I blame the parents
    Undoing these basic feelings is liable to undo the person concerned( and their attitude to you)
    This couple have come this far together and no doubt have coping mechanisms unknown to you
    Support the pair of them in their decisions and whatever you do don’t take sides!
    This would make you the focal point-a very uncomfortable and unhelpful place to be

  • 5 Michelle / F&W May 20, 2021, 4:57 pm

    Personally I always find these kind of things fascinating. Often, it’s so much easier to see where others beliefs/approaches have come from rather than your own.

    The real trick is to be able to know your drivers and then decide if they are still useful for you or not. Especially as your circumstances change.

    For my part, even though I’m now comfortably early retired I’ll still happily spend hours searching out “a deal”. I think it comes down to not wanting to waste money. So many people don’t have enough, it seems wasteful to fritter it away. Plus it’s just damn satisfying!

    PS FWIW I love Snowdonia but it’d be hands down Portugal now – we had 13 days out of 14 days solid rain last time we tried to hike there

  • 6 BeardyBillionaireBloke May 20, 2021, 6:49 pm

    Imagine driving to a council car park where you have a free pass from living in the area but you have forgotten to bring it with you. Do you pay £3.60 or drive home again to find the pass? People older than me who are perhaps thinking what 3 or 4 pounds could buy in 1960 were in favour of driving home.

  • 7 Naeclue May 20, 2021, 7:02 pm

    100% behind “Her”. It is not a case of not being able to afford something, but about value for money. I will not overpay if I can possibly avoid it and have the same attitude whether I am buying a coffee (over £3 everywhere in London now?) or a yacht.

    Fortunately my wife has the same attitude and my kids have inherited it.

  • 8 ArthurL May 20, 2021, 8:42 pm

    This is a great article. If you are lucky enough to be able to give your kids a comfortable upbringing, you don’t want them to be entitled and grow up lazy. At the same time do not want to project worry….it’s a hard balance.

  • 9 Feastandfamine May 20, 2021, 8:59 pm

    Interesting…. hmmm…

    My father had a scarcity mindset, brought up in a large family with little money. Thankfully he did well in his financially, but he deeply disliked paying for anything. Why? Because he was building up a nice retirement fund.
    Sadly, he passed away only a few years into his retirement and never really got to enjoy it.

    My mother has reaped what he sowed.
    And has now spent it, pretty much.
    In her, the scarcity mindset was planted differently. If you had it, you spent it as the shops may not have it next week. Back then, this meant she had food for the week or something to sell.
    Nowadays it just means you have a lot of stuff you don’t need…

  • 10 Jonathan May 20, 2021, 10:35 pm

    What a fantastic article and it really gets to the heart of what drives people in their adult years, not just in money, but in other areas of their life as well. I especially like the point that children of FI people will probably grow up with a totally different experience of money than their parents.

    I really feel that your environment is a big influence on your approach. A lot of my friends from my home town ended up moving back after university and have settled for being in the 80th percentile of the local town. Those who moved away, or who have friends around the country with better jobs, have almost all ended up in at least the 80th percentile of the UK as whole. Neither group more intelligent than the other – just one exposed to more possibilities and a (subconscious?) drive to keep up.

  • 11 G May 20, 2021, 11:02 pm

    Can see both sides, and may post more later.

    But as North Wales resident, I would say come, treat yourself and tip generously if you can. The tourism industry and those that depend on it have really suffered over this last year and everyone from the taxi driver to person making breakfast will appreciate a little largesse if you have a bit of cash to spare. Sadly, I cannot guarantee good weather though…

  • 12 Neverland May 21, 2021, 7:59 am

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you
    Philip Larkin 1974

  • 13 Rosario May 21, 2021, 8:18 am

    @ Neverland – Very good

    Its fascinating to observe this in action, both with yourself and others. Especially the battle between following what you were taught or rebelling against it.
    Even though both my parents are from families with similar resources their approaches to money are vastly different and I can see aspects of both in my character.

    I’ve had lengthy conversations with my wife about how we intend to teach our young children about money. We’re on the path to FI but we don’t want them to only experience the fruits of our labour and not know how we cultivated that. Its certainly not an easy balance to strike.

  • 14 Diderot May 21, 2021, 8:24 am

    A wonderful illustration of why we should greatly increase taxation on the rich.

  • 15 xxd09 May 21, 2021, 9:01 am

    We were quite clear with our children re money
    Everything paid for within reason including 5 years at Uni-no loans
    In return homework to be done and exams passed
    Simple bargain
    Seemed to work-all got jobs and only one needed £5000 for help with a house deposit
    Warned that all monies after this would likely be spent by Mum and Dad -might be nothing left especially after carehome fees

  • 16 The Rhino May 21, 2021, 9:46 am

    If you’re going to quote Larkin, I think you owe him the whole thing (its a short one anyhow)..

    .. But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

    I was visiting a few old friends recently and also noted a heightened level of bickering, age? pandemic? possibly a combination of both? It really stood out, so interesting that you’ve posted on a similar theme.

    One pair one-upped the lock-down puppy with a lock-down daughter, which I thought was really raising the game. I guess bickering under those conditions is pretty understandable, poor beggars must be exhausted!

    The perspective broadening effect of socialising with others once again is a valuable tool in the mental resilience armory when you realise just how shit a time of it others have been having as well. Schadenfruede isn’t the right word, as I’m not taking pleasure from vicarious misfortune, but just being reminded first hand you’re not the only one suffering is good for the soul.

  • 17 OT May 21, 2021, 11:39 am

    What they don’t realize is that with their private school education, top-flight university degrees, and a decade of bringing similarly well-off friends back to the family home at weekends, their children are in a thoroughly different place to them already.

    IMHO this is really poignant. My parents worked 12 hr shifts for 7 days a week for years in a chip shop in order to provide for me and my brother. We both went to private school, although not one the ‘top’ ones. My parents started out with nothing and worked for everything they provided us with. I do share their money values, although due to my experience I’m not willing to slave away in the way that had become necessary for them, because my experience has taught me that I have not had to. I earn my money in a different way, but like to this respect it just as much. I know that my kids will be far removed from my parents also, but I hope to I still the same respect for money, if I can. Although I appreciate that it might be futile trying to do so.

    We all have different upbringings, not sure there is a ‘correct’ way to think about money. Everyone thinks that their own way is ‘correct’. To some degree we are all ‘correct’.

  • 18 ZXSpectrum48k May 21, 2021, 12:11 pm

    My wife and I are very much in the “her” category. Both of us come from poor backgrounds. We’re far too careful with money, scared of not having enough, risk averse with investments etc.

    We’re both focussed on getting value for money, a good deal to save a few hundred or a thousand here or there. It’s a complete waste of time. A rounding error compared to the big tickets costs in our life. “Penny wise, pound foolish”. When investing, we still invest in too small a ticket size. Too much fear, not enough greed etc. We can’t recalibrate.

    I’m trying very much to instill more of the “him” attitude in my children. The idea they don’t need to see money as an issue. I want them to be to speculate, take risks. To follow silly dreams, be frivolous, and not think about the downside. To actually enjoy life.

  • 19 JP May 21, 2021, 12:48 pm

    We are both in the ‘her’ category, me much more so than my husband, which is down to coming from a poor background (which influenced my choice of a high earning career). My husband’s family were well off, and he chose to take risks in life, following a career which would more likely than not mean struggling financially (but learning the hard way early on that good budgeting was essential for survival!). I could not have done that. Luckily we reached the same place and tend to agree on how we spend and what’s important. I’m sure our upbringing and childhood experiences had a major impact on these choices. However, it may be genetics have a play here too – our children were brought up to feel we were comfortable financially, but one of them is very frugal, and weighs up spending money carefully, while the other is more of a risk taker. Opposite ends of the spectrum. I dont think we brought them up any differently!

  • 20 FitandFunemployed May 21, 2021, 12:56 pm

    A goatee beard? The horror !

  • 21 JimJim May 21, 2021, 1:18 pm

    I am certainly from a “her” background, money was tight growing up and not to be squandered unnecessarily. I married into a slightly more affluent family and it took some time in wedded life to balance our money outlooks.
    Backpacking on a shoestring in the mid 90’s was an eye opener in flagrant spending (relative to local economy) – the differences in reward expectations from the locals varied enormously in the areas frequented by the more well heeled tourists (mainly Americans back then) compared to the lesser traveled parts. Knowing what the real economy was was somewhat of an impossibility and tourist inflation was a game played out to the detriment of the budget backpacker. So I sympathise with “her”, I still don’t like feeling I am being taken advantage of.
    As money is doing its own earning alongside me at the moment, holding on to the purse strings seems futile some of the time but we still play that game, my rallying cry being spending it now means fewer healthy years when I don’t have to earn, although I would not call my current lifestyle impoverished by any means.
    We use accounts designated for spending and, as they have done over lockdown, when they get too large we just make bigger plans. We also have a family “rule” the rule of special. If you see something you really want, and it is affordable at the time and the opportunity will not likely be presented again soon then any family member can invoke the “rule of special” – as yet no one has taken this too far 🙂 .
    As for offspring, we do what we can and hope that a good education may help in getting through life without having to rely upon the BOMAD too much, although, as most parents would I presume, we will help where we can, when it is needed.

  • 22 PC May 21, 2021, 1:27 pm

    Interesting post .. thanks

    I definitely identify with her – because of my childhood and more recently from being out of work for a spell.

    Giving myself regular pocket money that I can spend without having to justify it, has really helped me. The rest of the time I can be reasonably frugal.

  • 23 PC May 21, 2021, 1:33 pm

    @NewInvestor couldn’t agree more on the meaning of ‘Staycation’ it means staying at home with maybe a few trips out during the day ..

  • 24 Matt May 21, 2021, 2:30 pm

    Definitions of staycation appear to vary but https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/staycation has “a holiday that you spend in your own home or your own country, relaxing and enjoying leisure activities there” so seems reasonable for some people to choose to define their UK-based holiday as a staycation.

  • 25 Dean May 21, 2021, 4:26 pm

    Outstanding article. Covers all angles. Additional comment therefore superfluous!

  • 26 c-strong May 21, 2021, 8:49 pm

    @TI Great article! I probably fall naturally into the “her” camp, but I actively try to remind myself to put a cost on my time, and think about what is important in life – what ZXSpectrum48k said really resonates here.

    (As an aside, without wishing to spoil your thesis, I’m not sure how much of this is down to upbringing rather than being innate. My wife is from a pretty similar middle class background to me, though her family had some tough financial breaks we didn’t experience, and she is a “him” – in spades. Her siblings are much more frugal.)

    The hedonic adaption stuff is fascinating and I’ve been thinking about it a lot since the Rational Reminder podcast covered the topic a couple of weeks ago (recommended: https://rationalreminder.ca/podcast/148). Everyone who pays attention to investing, growing their wealth etc. – i.e. 100% of the readers of this blog – needs to think about this and should have a read around the issue. The article you linked to looks like a good place to start.

  • 27 G May 21, 2021, 9:49 pm

    Agree, there is some element of upbringing – but some people (like myself) seem to be savers and others (my sibling) spend up to the hilt/credit cards maxed out etc regardless. We had the same (poor) upbringing but have responded to it in a very different way. For me, getting to FI has allowed me to completely escape the scarcity mindset around money – even though it involved much budgeting on the way. My sibling has plenty of material possessions and experiences, but retains the same scraping by mindset of our parents.

    IIRC, from an evolutionary perspective there’s advantages to both approaches. In most years, it pays to YOLO – until you hit famine/insert other natural disaster, then the planners & savers do better.

  • 28 Svr... May 21, 2021, 11:17 pm

    My sibblings and I received an inheritance this week.

    We met up today. My day interrupted because my bank keeps blocking transactions because I’m busy allocating funds to ISAs and savings across my family members. (Bank thinks so much activity must be fraudulent.)

    My sibblings scoffing at the problems I create for myself by not just leaving the cash in my bank’s easy access saver account. One sibblings is divorced and seriously loaded the other woke and broke.

    All from same family.

    Just thought I’d share…

  • 29 Jonny May 21, 2021, 11:18 pm

    I’m definitely a “her”, though wish I had more of “his” outlook.

    I can relate to ZXSpectrum48k, post and c-strong’s reminders about cost of time (though still not valuing my cost/time ratio enough).

    Constantly worry about being taken advantage of.

    The irony I’m only beginning to recognise, is that all this saving for FI and paying off the mortgage early is so I don’t have to worry about money. But then I constantly worry about not wasting it. Is that any better?

    I sometimes wonder if it would be easier to be ignorant, drive the German motor I want (and can afford), upgrade thx house etc., even if it means a few more years working.

    All very depressing really!

  • 30 JimJim May 22, 2021, 5:36 am

    @G … I like this thought of yours …
    “IIRC, from an evolutionary perspective there’s advantages to both approaches. In most years, it pays to YOLO – until you hit famine/insert other natural disaster, then the planners & savers do better.”

    It had me picturing a line graph of x,y, axis measured in terms of bear to bull, one being attitude to spending, the other attitude to saving/investing and the line indicating average happiness outcome at retirement.
    Surely this must be a curve with a sweet spot 🙂

  • 31 Billy Casper May 22, 2021, 7:12 am

    I’m one of four siblings and well on the way to an early 50s FIRE thanks to a late 30s epiphany and the fortune to land a very high paying job.

    My eldest sibling and her husband are extremely well off (multiple expensive houses, regular round the world trips, etc), but are very down to earth and not wasteful, their kids are the same. One of my other siblings is struggling, virtually broke with gambling and drink issues, and impervious to advice.

    We have working-class parents that grew up during the war. My father has been worried about money his entire life and is now comfortable in retirement, but still unable to enjoy the bit of money he has and always scrimps and saves on things, even with essential repairs that inevitably end up costing more to put right.

    Fortunately, my mother is more outgoing and fought for every nice thing we had, including a trip to Italy when we were kids (48 hours on a coach, ouch). We visited Venice, but despite it being a once in a lifetime trip, we never went on a gondola: my father wouldn’t pay full price for two children!

  • 32 E&G May 22, 2021, 8:17 am

    Like Jonny, definitely a “her” but would like to transition to bring more of a “him”.

    I think it’s a mixture of innate and learned. I’ve two sisters who are totally different to me – one is a spendthrift who has never been out of her overdraft while the other is somewhere in between and watches her money but spends it all keeping up with the Joneses and has the Help to Buy home and two PCPs to show for it.

  • 33 The Investor May 22, 2021, 8:34 am

    @all — Interesting comments, cheers. I hadn’t intended the piece to provoke such a nature versus nurture debate I must admit. And I totally recognise the reality of siblings with mostly the same background having different approaches / outcomes in adult life.

    For me the evening reinforced how my friends grappled with their present status versus ‘the horse they rode in on’. To paraphrase Kahneman: Thinking Then, And Now.

  • 34 jim May 22, 2021, 8:53 am

    Definitely a ‘her’. I used to take more financial risks in my 20’s and managed to earn a decent amount. Now just 10 years later i am regressing into a spendthrift tightwad who is too scared to engage with any opportunity.

    I think something deep down coming from working class seeing parents take most of their working careers to pay off their mortgages. I’m in my 30’s with no mortgage, maybe not quite FI but subconsciously it’s like all my drive has gone and my brain just wants to stay comfortable rather than take risks!

  • 35 Factor May 22, 2021, 10:09 am

    @TI #33 “….. such a nature versus nurture debate …..”

    One of the “bibles” in my bookcase is “Blueprint – How DNA makes us who we are”, Robert Plomin (Penguin, Random House UK 2018). It’s an easy, and eminently page-turning read, with Plomin pointing out at the start that he has relegated any detailed genetic science to the end notes, and in a simplified form, for those who might wish to delve into it, but that doing so is in no way essential, and the book is fascinating, eye-opening, stuff.

    Of particular relevance in the discussion here is the counterintuitive chapter, “The nature of nurture”, which will stop you in your tracks if you are new to this concept.

    Detailed studies of identical (monozygotic) and non-identical (dizygotic) twins support many of the findings referred to in the book, and they are of added interest to me since I am 0ne of the latter type myself 🙂

  • 36 Clara May 22, 2021, 2:25 pm

    Agreed. All about practising awareness and optimising the present moment for growth and self-love. 5 years ago that may have meant coupon clipping and hunting for deals, but today that might mean hiring a travel agent to book a trip, so your time is used better.

    The hardest part is the faith and trust that you have grown or are in a different place. The mind is so powerful!

  • 37 Jeremy May 23, 2021, 4:46 am

    While I completely agree with your thesis, that your relationship with money can be greatly informed and developed as a child, I really hate your “solution” for your two friends. It kicks the can down the road and does not address the issues. A thoughtful compromise solution would be for them to understand each other’s main concerns. His concern is that he is more worried about wasting time than wasting money. He has the money to spend a little extra, he knows from his parents that time here is limited. She is willing to spend money, but wants to do research first to make sure she is not getting taken advantage of and gets an acceptable value. The Portugal trip makes more sense to her as the chances of weather being an issue ruining the trip are lower than the Wales trip, which would be a waste if the weather ruins it. The compromise solution would be for them both to have says in vacations, take both the Wales and Portugal trips. Allow her to do research into where to stay at those locations so she can feel like she is not getting taken advantage of. But then also agree that she does not worry about any expense under £100 or £75. He would tell her that he understands how she does not want to get taken advantage of, but that he also does not want to spend hours driving to save a few bucks or look less like tourists. She would tell him that while she does not like looking like tourists, she understands he values the time saved more than the money saved. She will have control over the big expenses once a trip is agreed upon, but will not fret the little things. There is a middle ground that I think can make them both happy.

  • 38 weenie May 24, 2021, 1:45 pm

    I’m naturally a saver like my parents but I fell off the rails in my 20s and most of my 30s, only to revert back to ‘norm’ when I came to my senses in my late 30s. I have a feeling that I will find it difficult to enjoy spending my cash in the future after diligently putting funds aside, so I will be more like ‘her’. I do however think that your proposal to contribute to a joint ‘spending fund’ is viable – I think it’s something I would be able to adopt should the occasion arise. But then, it would probably depend on how much this pot/the contributions were going to be…

  • 39 Bobbins May 24, 2021, 6:31 pm

    Ah good to see the first commentators off the block were to begrudge the modern usage of “staycation”. See also Stuart Maconie for similar grumbling.

    Tend to agree with the premise though that we are all shaped in some way by our childhood. While we never went short as kids and in fact benefitted from the role model of two parents working equally and a degree of academic aspiration, became acutely aware that we never had as flash a car nor the the same fripperies as friends whose dads worked “in business” etc.

    Been good for getting to a non-profligate middle age though in reasonably sound financial health.

  • 40 Jonny June 3, 2021, 8:34 pm

    Still struggling with this!

    I’d be really keen to hear some more posts on or around this topic. If anyone has any links to any good articles, I’d be interested in those too. 🙂

  • 41 shysaver July 4, 2021, 1:36 pm

    Interesting article and has opened my eyes a bit to my own upbringing.

    Come from a working class background, not a lot of money going around but also not on the breadline either (well, I assume, it’s difficult to know your parent’s finances when you’re 10)

    Nowadays I earn a decent wage, much more than my parents ever did and am fortunate to be able to save and invest. But I’m also crippled with worry about losing it all. People from privelege don’t have that worry because its probably very easy for them to see a way of bouncing back, or tapping into a safety net.

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