Beyond simple vocabulary is the manner in which we talk about concepts and ideas. Children pick up on our attitudes and learn how to mimic them. They listen to the words we use and figure out how to apply them elsewhere. The same can happen when you are talking about money. In this excerpt from Chapter 2 of Piggy Banks to Paychecks by Angie Mohr, she discusses the language of money.
The Language of Money
How we talk about money- the words, the phrases, the attitudes- is just as important as what we say about money. It’s the same with food. If you talk about food like it’s a reward for good behavior or a comfort for a stressful day, those attitudes will color what you do with food and how much you eat. The words you use about food, such as “You deserve a big bowl of ice cream”, will shape how your children view and talk about food. Just as bad food habits can be carried over from generation to generation, so can bad money habits.
Money is nothing but a facilitator of commerce. It does not have any magical properties that will make people happier, more positive, healthier, or wiser. While having enough wealth to live a fulfilling and satisfying life is a fantastic goal, it’s not the money itself that gets us there. It’s what we do with our money and how to handle it.
For the next week, listen consciously to the words you use when you talk about money every day. Do you talk about it as if it’s something that just appears and disappears outside of your control? Do you discuss how you will reward yourself with a shopping trip after a hard work week or “splurge” on an expensive dinner out? Do you talk about your retirement account with comments like, “I’m not even going to look at it- the markets are so bad right now”? The words we use define how in control we feel about money.
Remember that children are sponges. They listen to us when we think they’re doing other things. They absorb our attitudes about wealth, budgeting, and financial security. Controlling the way you talk about money is the first step in teaching your children positive financial lessons. Money is not the end goal and it is something that we can harness and control. We are not helpless in our financial journey. Everyone has the ability to take the reigns and direct our financial situation in the right direction.
Here are some money phrases that are a great start to talking about money more positively:
“Our budget gives us $100 this month to plan our entertainment.”
“Because we saved $50 on our groceries this month, we can take $25 of it and go to the amusement park.”
“The housing market is significantly down right now, but we’re not buying or selling and can ride it out just fine.”
“Let’s go through next year’s budget again and see if we can find some savings so that we can go to Mexico in the winter.”
“Mary, you did a great job managing the bake sale and it showed in the amount of money you made.”
“The car is still in good running order, so we’ll keep it for at least another year.”
“We received more back on our income tax returns than we expected. Let’s work the extra into the budget.”
“You saved up for that CD player all on your own and then researched and found a better price than you were expecting. Great job saving money!”
Note that all of these phrases denote that you are in control of your money. You know where it came from and where it’s going. You have your money on a leash, not the other way around.
Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
© Angie Mohr 2012
Learn more by visiting Angie Mohr's website for Piggy Banks to Paychecks.