The Financial Personalities of Our Family

funny faces
Kristina from Dinks Finance had a cool article the other day on the different financial personalities of her family, and it got me to stop and reflect a bit on my own darling little loved ones.

I thought I’d copy her and share the inner-most dark secrets of my family now too ;)  Only they’re really not that dark, and really not that secretive.  But they ARE what helped me form my own financial habits over the years. I think when it comes to nature vs. nurture here, the nurturing most definitely won out.  Especially in my earlier years.  I was totally doing whatever my parents were. (I think they call that Momma’s boy?)

Now that I’m grown up, though, I can see bits and pieces of all my family members’ habits carrying with me. I’d probably say that I’m a good mixture of all them combined – give or take a little financial fanaticism ;) Meet my family:

My Mom: The queen of all frugal!  And without a doubt where I got my bargaining skills from.  Although unlike her I tend to veer off track sometimes and have to keep learning my lesson ;)  But ever since I’ve known her (over 31 years now, yikes!) she’s been a huge influence on my habits and I love her dearly for it.

My Dad: A man who spends with purpose.  Not on clothes or doodads, but whatever “thing” he’s into at the moment.  And he’s not afraid to pay for quality ;)  Something I liked to remind my mother of in middle school when DAD was able to wear Nike Airs and $100 running shoes, and I had to be content with Payless.  Not the most exciting shoes to wear when you’re trying to fit in with the “cool” guys.

My Brother: You know my brother.  The  jokester of the family who turned from financial black sheep to the come back kid!  He’s by far made the biggest change over the years, and I’m so freakin’ proud of him. He seems so much more confident and HAPPY lately – one of the side affects of gaining control of your money! ;)

My Sister: Pretty much exactly like my mom, with a little splash of my dad’s expensive taste.  But usually in terms of travel and life experiences only.  Now that she’s a proud mother of a cute little boy though, everything she does has to be for the better of the little one.  But her plan for moving across the globe with him is still in the works! Just needing more fine tuning now…

My Nephew: Hasn’t realized that things cost money just yet (hes’ 3), but Uncle J$ is working on that. One day he’ll appreciate all those savings bonds and checks we’ve been storing in his college fund.

Our Cats: All they want is food.  And sleep.  You give them money and they’ll eat it and then fall right to sleep.

Mrs BudgetsAreSexy: I guess we should talk about her, eh? ;)  She’s brilliant.  Super frugal, but not to the point where it annoys you and you feel bad for blowing $100 on lottery tickets (although she surely didn’t agree with that one). She keeps me in check and watches for any signs of our family falling into the deep end. And she’s also a HUGE saver, although she can’t stand having conversations about money.  The second you even *think* about bringing up a budget, her eyes glaze right over and it’s an uphill battle. Haha…good thing she has me to  deal with all that boring awesome stuff ;)

That pretty much sums up the whole crew right there.  As you can tell, I grew up with a family of savers.  It would be cool to see how different I’d be had things been totally reversed, but since that’s really not possible we’ll have to hear about YOUR family’s personalities instead ;)

Are they all good financial role models? Is there a nut job within the ranks?  Tell us all the juicy details, we promise not to judge (much).

(Photo by divemasterking2000 — not my family, but they seem fun don’t they?)

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  1. Kevin @ January 19, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    You have a good financial family it looks like. My upbringing was a little different. I guess you’d call me the black sheep because I’m the only one that manages his money responsibly.

  2. Clare January 19, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    I’m with Kevin. My parents are amazing people but I can’t recall a single financial lesson from them.

  3. Alexis January 19, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Great article, certainly makes you think about where your money habits came from! I grew up with parents who didn’t spend frivolously, but they rarely held back either.

    My Dad’s always been a good budgeter and pretty tight with money. My Mom’s pretty frugal, but she’d often cave to our demands and go outside the budget. My youngest brother (21) has too many bills and not enough financial sense..he’s constantly asking to be bailed out. My other brother (25) can hang onto $20 for two years, he’s definitely the most frugal. Me – I’m getting better (in part thanks to your blog – and my husband!) I used to spend it if I had it, but he’s helped me start seriously budgeting and, if I just didn’t have to bail my brother out we’d be a pretty financially savvy family :) Thanks for the post! – A

  4. Janet January 19, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Your mom sounds like me (well, the new me … old me didn’t manage money that well), and your dad sounds like my bf. He doesn’t spend all the time, but when he does, it’s going to be a top-of-the-line item that will last.

  5. Cassie January 19, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Mom went to extremes when we were young to make the money stretch and last so we could keep our farm. She made our soap, toothpaste, bread, cheese, slaughtered lambs for meat, canned garden vegetables, bartered, you name it. She knows how to make a penny stretch, however when she has money she spends it. Dad was working 2 jobs during the day and taking classes at night to try and get a better paying job. He didn’t really spend money on much of anything when we were growing up. They were frugal and worked hard.

    Once we were older and the money started to flow (and interest rates came down), it seemed like the money was spent as it came in. Mom protests that she’s a saver, but I mostly see the spending. Dad now stops for a bottle of coke and a news paper every day after work. You can tell they changed their financial habits as their money situation improved.

    They’re very generous people, and I learned from them. To this day I still have to fight the urge to empty my bank account to give gifts to other people, because that’s what they did for us growing up. When I finished university a few years ago and started working full time I went all out buying Christmas gifts (diamond earrings, iPod, expensive clothes, etc…). Fortunately my parents were receptive to me putting Christmas on a budget this past December. Some lessons can be unlearned :)

  6. Ariella January 19, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    There was an actual in depth study done about different personality types and their money management in term of mapping out online banking. I was directed to it by a fellow blogger on it’s at

  7. C Ann January 19, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    My spending habits are definitely a result of the environment I grew up in. When I was young I thought we were rich. I always had the newest shoes, newest gaming console…everything. But then I realized we weren’t rich, my mom just had a boat load of credit cards. And she was using gifts to make up for her absence, because she had to work 60+ hours a week to pay for those credit cards.

    Admittedly, I feel into that trap during college…trying to keep up with my friends whose parents REALLY DID have money. Luckily, I’ve learned my lesson. After paying off nearly $15,000 in debt during my first year out of college I’m ready to save save save. And develop positive spending habits that I will some day pass along to my children.

  8. Hadenough January 19, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    There is myself and my husband, we are doing well. We have savings, good 401k, budget, . Both college educated.
    There is my mother, two steps away from bankruptcy. works two jobs and gets SS check from Dad’s ss
    There is my mother’s son, “The Bum”, No job, couldn’t bother finishing high school or GED, expects my mother to take care of him, this loser actually has a fiance. I told her when I met her, when my mom dies he is going to be homeless, he will not work, doesn’t even have a checking account at 42 years old,she needed to wake up and get real. Yeah I am the future sister in law from hell. I just tell like it is.

    Sometimes family members can just hurt you and in my case I am ready to cut any contact with them, they only call when they need money. The answer is always no. Sounds harsh, but mom and brother never bother to try and pay it back, work it off, changee their ways. I am done with them.

  9. LaToya January 19, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    That photo is hillarious! The lady looks like one of the characters from the Real Houswives of Hollywood!

    Me = a nerd that has to plan everything, although I don’t execute much. Went to school, got a good job, and now supports everyone to my own detriment!
    My husband = the thirty-one year old free spirit that doesn’ t know how much money is in the bank as long as his debit card works. If you mention budget, money, savings, or work you are about to enter the silent zone as none of these things seem palatable to him. (Yes, I, the nerd, married a man that has NEVER worked a stable job in his life…and no he is not disabled…at least not physically maybe mentally…we never know!)
    My mom = the financial disaster. She is just like my husband who has never worked. Relied on my dad to take care of everything, but dad passed. So guess who she relies on now…yep me.
    My sister = the saver. She always has money because she tells everyone she is broke. I should try that!
    My husband’s grandmother = Thinks my husband married into money, always bugs him about giving her some as she “raised him” despite she has three grown children who all live less than 10 miles from her while my husband and I are over 350 miles away.

  10. Jenna January 19, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Definitely my mom. She taught me how to consider the pros and cons of every purchase and decision.

  11. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff January 19, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    Hahaha. Great family! My mom and dad prioritize their spending and save a lot. My in-laws buy what they think they “deserve” but make enough that they also put away 10% for retirement. My husband will gladly spend on fun stuff but only the things he deems important and lets me squirrel away the rest. I am a saver. I want to retire early and am much more likely to save than to spend unless I really want something (like travelling…we can and do spend about 10% of our income on fun stuff like travelling…).

  12. Eric Lowery (Thrifty, Wealthy & Wise) January 19, 2011 at 3:10 PM


    My dad doesn’t do money at all. My mom runs the show. My mom is accountant smart, and she understands and acknowledges the importance of investing and saving, but they’re not very good at actually doing it. They could be living in a paid for house by now…but no. They’re mortgaged to the hilt.

    That being said, my mom taught me good lessons, but I never really followed them and she didn’t exactly lead by example. It took my bankruptcy (see my story) to finally get it. My brother gets paid well now, and my crisis seems to have straightened him up. He listens to me now and seems to be doing really well.

    As for my dogs, they aren’t picky. They run up the dog food budget but water is included in rent. My snake milks me for about $10/month, but I’m cool with it.

  13. thewanderingbudget January 19, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Super interesting!

    Me: Not so good with money in the past- just spent what I earned, not much in savings but kind of trying (money in an RRSP and bonds, though VERY low-growth). Getting better and trying to change my habits!

    My parents: Never talked about money, but in retrospect were very diligent in balancing their books. They were both teachers and Mom stayed at home for about 15 years. When an extra large expense came up (driving lessons, braces), Mom always found some sort of second job to take on to pay for it, which I think is pretty amazing. I never had trendy things or nice sneakers but my Mom knew how to fit her budget. Now that all the kids are gone and they’re both retired they are doing lots of things for themselves and enjoying the money coming in. Lots of travel!

    My sister: To be honest I don’t really know, but from looking at her and her husband, they must take on a bit of debt as they’re constantly buying the newest gadgets/things my brother-in-law sets his sights on. Beautiful camping tralier, motorcycle, music equipment, anything the kids want. I hope they’re responsible with their money but I also doubt it a bit.

    Brother #1: The accountant who has his money where he wants it! I have no worries about this brother as he’s always been very responsible- owns two houses, rarely travels, makes huge money. Granted, he has three little girls and his wife currently stays at home, but I think they’re doing okay. I imagine she’ll go back to work in a few years.

    Brother #2: Hasn’t always been responsible with his money (racking up credit card debts) but I think he’s relatively okay now. He works as an engineer and pulls in decent money. His plan to stay in Calgary was just as long as he paid off his student loans, which he did last year (after only about 3 years). He has a serious girlfriend there now though, who has serious money problems. She’s doing her PhD with some money coming in, but has had a very sick dog and money’s tight. Credit cards are maxed, lots of student loans. She hasn’t been able to afford to visit home (Newfoundland) in over 2 years. She tries to support herself as much as she can but I’m sure my brother helps out a lot.

  14. Catherine January 19, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    My mum was a good budgeter and saver, my dad was lucky on the stock market but he is a bit of a spender rather than a saver, though he has some sensibilities.

    My sister? Boring. She can even make personal finance boring, and I love pf.

    My hamster? unaware I spend money on him. He sleeps too much.

    My husband – was rubbish with money in his early twenties when I didn’t know him. He’s now reigned it in and has become very good at budgeting. Though he is terrible for splurging even if it means he’s eating cardboard for the next 2 weeks. He just loves spoiling others.

  15. LB January 19, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    My mom has been an inspiration to me. She went from housewife and living OK, to divorced and broke. She didn’t have a lot of skills and started at McDonald’s when I was young. Her ideal job has always been cleaning lady and she has always been a hard worker and frugal.

    My father is an amazing business man who is a hard worker and loves to find a good deal, but he would rather spend money then put it away into a retirement account. He always said his current house is his retirement fund (meaning when he sells it, he will use the money to live off of)

    My brother, although older than me, doesn’t save money and doesn’t seem to know the value of it. Although very capable, he has never lived on his own and probably never will.

    My aunt is an inspiration and very frugal. Sometimes she comes across as too frugal, but in all fairness she has to run a farm on a very limited budget. (She’s a great inspiration when it comes to creating fantastic meals too)

    My Cats and Dog would spend money like crazy if they could. My dog even ate a $20 bill I left on the coffee table once. If only I could find them jobs… ;)

    My husband let’s me enjoy having insane focus over our budget now, in order to enrich our future. He also helps me determine if something is truly a good deal and not to spend money on impulse purchases.

  16. quizshow January 19, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Both of my parents are disasters at money management, though one was a spender and one a semi-saver. We always lived paycheck to paycheck, but mom knew how to make a dollar stretch and whatever savings they had was used when needed on major expenses. They both grew up pretty poor so I think they’re money habits are a direct reaction to that in different ways. My siblings have faired much better than I have at avoiding the genetic money pitfalls. They had some credit issues, but they both addressed them early and are getting financially wiser. My financial retardation on other hand seems to be rooted quite deep. It’s been a 5 year project with very little success. I’m 29 and no where near where I feel I should be, even with two degrees, and a decent salary. Thus I turn to internet blogs for guidance. Thanks J$.

  17. Molly On Money January 19, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    My parents never talked about money. I never knew how much they made or how much it took to live our lives. My husband and I include the kids on how we spend and save. They are twelve but by the time they were 10 they understood a mortgage, interest and why they should never lease a car! My parents (strangely?) love how open we are with our kids.

  18. J. Money January 19, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    @Alexis – hahaaha -“My other brother (25) can hang onto $20 for two years.”
    @Cassie – They’re living the good life now that you all are out of the house! ;) Hehe…my parents are starting to do that too. COOL you all had a farm!
    @Ariella – Thanks, I’ll check it out.
    @C Ann – Dannnnng. You’re on the right track now though, baby!
    @Hadenough – Oh $hit, I’m sorry to hear that. I can’t even imagine having family problems like that :( I hope things get better for you! And that everyone learns how to be respectful toward each other.
    @LaToya – hahha… you win the funny comment of the day ;) and somehow your husband reminds me a LOT of myself, just not in the money department. I bet he has A.D.H.D. too.
    @Budgeting in the Fun Stuff – Cuz you budget it all in! And make it a priority – nothing wrong with that ;) Going traveling tomorrow – woop!
    @Eric Lowery (Thrifty, Wealthy & Wise) – haha, as long as you keep your snake away from our cats we can be friends ;)
    @thewanderingbudget – YES! – “When an extra large expense came up (driving lessons, braces), Mom always found some sort of second job to take on to pay for it” – I love that mentality. If we all did that when we couldn’t afford something, we’d be so much better off! And I gaurantee we would’t get 1/2 the stuff we wanted if we knew we had to go out and earn it asap too ;)
    @Catherine – Make personal finance boring? wow – that’s impressive with this gang ;)
    @LB – Hahaha… did you wait for him to plop it out? What if coins fell out? hahaha…. (grooooan)
    @quizshow – You’ll get there buddy! Takes some time to get on a good roll there but *always* doable. The fact you’re on the net reading & leaving comments is huge – keep it up :)
    @Molly On Money – Wow, your kids are gonna rock that money when they’re older! Good job my friend :) Not that I ever doubted you, haha…

  19. 20 and Engaged January 20, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    My mom is a serious bargain shopper, but swears that emergency cards are emergency funds. I officially disagree.

    My dad is like your dad: he spends with a purpose. He doesn’t have expensive taste for himself but will go all out for the kids.

    Big sister: cheap. Not frugal, cheap. lol

    Little sister: A serious saver. She JUST started spending her money and she’s 17.

    Brothers (too many of them to count): They’re serious hustlers (legit, I promise), but they don’t mind spending on things they like.

    The Mr: He’s a spender more than a saver, but the nice thing is he likes spending money on me. Who am I to turn that down? ;)

  20. Sense January 20, 2011 at 3:50 AM

    you know this already, but you are SO lucky to have your wife! frugal even though she doesn’t talk money…that is SO rare! usually the people who don’t like to talk money are really horrible at it.

  21. Jaime January 20, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    I think its great that you have had so many positive influences in your life especially your wife. So many people grow up with parents who are bad with money, that they don’t realize until later in life that its possible to live debt-free. Good for you. :)

  22. sandrac January 20, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    My parents were products of the depression, and paying your bills was the number 1 priority. My father worked for more than 35 years in one job to pay the bare essential bills for his family (wife, and 3 kids), pay the mortgage. We did not have the ‘treats’ that our peers did (e.g.we did not have a TV until I was in my teens), no vacations to Florida, no ‘fancy’ clothes (brand name), we lived in a tiny 3bedroom 1 bath bungalow and never moved. We were the handmedown family, and I am sure in retrospect an object of some pity at times.

    The 3 children (now adults in their 50’s) are as different as can be. The eldest spends money recklessly, has no savings, ‘borrows’ money from our mother – the only consolation is he isn’t spending the money on himself, but rather on his sons to give them everything he never had.

    Mys sister is the complete opposite. She has no financial worries. She lived simply (and still does) even though she now has the means to live a different lifestyle. Example: the house she and her husband and 2 kids live in is (literally) a million dollar mansion, her daily dishes are ones she bought when she left home 40 years ago-chipped, cracked. Her husband earns a high income, but as he is also the product of depresssion era parents, he too hates to spend money. He brown bags his lunch, drives his car into the ground, only buys things on sale, and their children know the value of a penny and the fun of dumpster-diving.

    As for me – I’m a combo of both. I do save (but not enough), I do shop (but mostly for the bare essentials, but I don’t always look for the sale), I travel (my indulgence) rather than invest in too many things, but will have to work long past my ‘best before’ date to fund a retirement.

  23. Aimee Davis January 20, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    I totally reblogged you. I couldn’t help it.

  24. Kristina January 20, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    It’s interesting to see how we are the products of our environements. We pick up good habits, and we learn from bad habits. It’s all a part of growing up :-) We can definitely tell a lot about people by their financial personalities.

  25. J. Money January 31, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    @20 and Engaged – I’d get along with your brothers ;)
    @Sense – Huh, hadn’t ever thought of it that way before. Thanks!
    @Jaime – I got lucky and then stayed away from bad influences ;) Hoping others can do the same too!
    @sandrac – Pretty interesting background – so different than mine! Thanks for sharing :)
    @Aimee Davis – That’s what SHE said?
    @Kristina – Thanks for the inspiration my friend ;)

  26. donkee January 31, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    I love your take on your cats’ spending habits…are you sure they won’t want to sleep ON the bills instead :)

    Have fun on the trip…continue to rock it, sir!

  27. J. Money January 31, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    haha, thanks ;) Nice hearing from ya – hope all is well!