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Home / Finances / Nature vs. Nature: Personal Finance Ramifications


I read a short post on This That And The MBA dealing with the nature vs. nurture topic as it related to having common sense with money and personal finances. That post stuck in my mind and planted the seed for this post. In her post, Christine described a few of the habits of her grandparents and parents and how she thinks those habits have influenced her financial habits. Well, since I am writing this post, you can imagine her musings touched a nerve so here are a few of my own musings.

I grew up in a home with parents that had two very contrasting views of money. My mother, god bless her, thought money was something to spend as quickly as it arrived and saving was for rich people, which we definitely were not. My father,on the other hand, tried to save money. Dad thought all of the bills should be paid on time, then you bought other things that were needed. Mom would go out and buy whatever she thought was necessary, then would worry about bills. If they were late, then they were late, who cared. As you can imagine, the arguments about money were non-stop and they divorced in great part due to the stress and animosity that had built up about financial issues.

So, how did I turn out? A complete financially neurotic and confused mess. To make matters worse, I married someone who viewed money exactly as my mother does. One underlying stressor was that I knew I was being irresponsible with money. I spent years in a sort of purgatory where I would spend money recklessly then kick myself because I knew better. A perfect combination to make a counselor rich.

So, how does this relate to the nature vs. nurture issue? After getting a divorce, I took control of my finances. I had to change many of my old habits and got some advice from my Dad, who had turned into quite a frugal saver after his divorce. I developed my first solid budget and began finding ways to save cash and keep my budget trim. I still track all of my expenses. Yes, I write down every pack of gum and gas station cappuccino. The result is pretty awesome. There is very little stress in my life, none of which is over money. I write out my budget each month with my kids watching. I want them to see the wheres and whys of a budget. I am far from rich, but if I lose my job, I won’t be homeless for a little while.

I think that I had to fight a portion of my upbringing to get to this point in life. So, nature vs, nurture? Sometimes you may have to fight your nurture to display your nature.


About the author: Jerry Coffey


Jerry Coffey spent many years in a debt-riddled gray area somewhere between broke and desperately broke. His seemingly endless need for more and more cash led him to payday loans, repossessions, bankruptcy, and depression. After years of the same financial style, he heard a piece of advice that inspired him to find a way to change. The advice: ''The very definition of a fool is someone who continues to do the same things, but expects different results.'' This led him to a much more frugal lifestyle that sees all of his bills paid on time and a growing savings account. Even the seed of a retirement account has begun to sprout.


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