Nature vs. Nurture: Money Sense

I learned something very interesting recently that made me think a lot about where our money sense comes from. During a recent visit from my dad, he told me that when my grandparents bought their first house, they paid it off in 13 years using a strategy that a lot of people think of as new and maybe even trendy. At the end of each month, my grandmother would take their “left over” money down to the bank and put it towards their mortgage. They were also fierce savers, obsessively frugal, and careful with every with every single dollar.

It made me think, are my frugal tendencies nature or nurture?

Even though I just learned about the mortgage payoff (and the fact that they essentially used the “envelope system” their entire life), I always knew my grandparents were fierce savers and frugal almost to a fault. At the time I didn’t understand it. It was almost a family joke the lengths they went to to save money. They would go to four different grocery stores to get the best deals, keep their air conditioner on 80 during the summer in Louisiana, and share meals at restaurants because they knew neither of them could finish a whole one anyway.

Then there’s my dad. He’s always made more than enough money to get by but has ruthlessly kept a pencil and paper budget for as long as I can remember. I think it’s very important to my dad’s wealth that he knows where every dollar is going.

So what does this have to do with me?

Long before I found out about my grandparents and their mortgage payoff plan, my husband and I had decided we wanted to pay down our mortgage more quickly than just making our regular monthly payments. Since this isn’t our “forever house” we’re not going to extreme measures, but we would like to have a bit of equity built up in our house when we do go to sell.

Then there’s my obsessive saving. Even when I’m not sure exactly what I’m saving for, I have this uncontrollable urge to put money away for the proverbial rainy day. My husband has even jokingly called me a money hoarder because of my saving ways.

And of course my obsession with budgeting. I love putting every dollar I spend (or save) into a little column and knowing where it’s going. Truthfully, I get really stressed when I don’t keep up with my budget because I feel like I don’t have control over my finances.

The Verdict?

I think it’s both. I’m not saying that watching the way my grandparents handled money didn’t influence me, but I also think it’s just part of my nature to be careful about how I spend my money. There are a lot of people who did not have good financial role models growing up who manage to do great things with their money. There are, however, certain things that I think can be attributed to either nature or nurture.

Nature: my frugal tendencies, my need to save

Nurture: my obsession with budgets 😉

Are your attitudes towards money an ingrained part of your personality? Or did you have to learn them after making some mistakes? Or is it a little of both?

9 thoughts on “Nature vs. Nurture: Money Sense

  1. I agree that it is a bit of both. Some people are often more prone than others to advertising, etc, but a lot comes from how we are raised.

  2. I think my money habits are a bit of both as well. I am extremely aware of money, where it’s coming from, where it’s going, and how much things cost and my dad is the same. However, neither of my parents, or really anyone in my family, is into couponing, being frugal, preventing food waste, and using “green” habits as a way to save money. That’s definitely something I’ve developed and nurtured over the years.

    Good post. 🙂

  3. I think it is a little of both. Nurture reinforces and teaches you good behaviors.

  4. Having good financial role models growing up definitely allows for a better handling of finances in adulthood. You may not have developed all of your skills from these influences, but they really do provide a solid framework of how to approach and handle money.

    1. Good point. Thanks for the comment!

  5. I think you must have actually been paying attention when your grandparents and your father were giving you financial advice when you were younger.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment! I think the decisions that I make regarding money certainly stem from how they raised me. And maybe I was actually listening. 😉

  6. Jerry

    The nature/nurture issue has many ramifications throughout our lives. Back in college, the topic came up every where from Sociology to Pediatric Nursing. By the way, I like your grandparents thinking on the sharing of a meal. I can’t remember the last time I finished a meal in a restaurant. Luckily, I have five kids. Never a single bite wasted.

  7. Hi Christine,

    Your post really makes a lot of sense. It takes a combination of nature and nurture to succeed in these endeavors. At any rate, money matters should be handled cleverly so everything will make sense.

Comments are closed.