Understanding Your Money Memories

One of your first steps in understanding money is one of understanding your primary money memory, the underlying money thoughts that shape your money attitudes and habits. Why? Because many of our financial behaviors are greatly influenced by our past experiences with money over the years, but especially during early childhood.

Money Memories Create Our Attitudes

Ask yourself this question: what is your first memory about money? Your early experiences often shape you life more than most people think.


One of my sisters was always embarrassed when she shopped with my grandfather because of his “dickering” over prices as they called it then. Nevertheless, she grew up to be a great negotiator over prices, especially at yard sales and the like.

As a child were you often told that you couldn’t do things because your parents didn’t have enough money? Did you grow up thinking you were poorer than your friends? Or did you grow up thinking you were lucky to have more than a lot of people? Did those comments correspond to reality or just attitude?

Did you have to earn your spending money as a child or was it given to you.

Did your family ever experience a financial crisis? Did you grow up thinking you were at the mercy of others to give you a job or did you grow up feeling self-reliant?

Experience Shapes Money Memories

Now ask yourself how you interpreted these experiences as a child and how you see them now. As you see how your past experiences have taught you to think and behave in certain ways, make a list. Reflect on how your money memory is affecting your money attitudes and habits now.

Now try thinking about it from a different angle. Write down any other habits you have developed in using your money and think in reverse. Why do you think you behave in these ways?

Don’t judge good or bad. Just try to understand your financial thinking and behavior. When you discover a thinking pattern that is not helpful you can create a new memory by consciously acting contrary to it, learning to think differently for a better result.

As you go along in your financial education you will want to reflect on these habits, especially if some of them may be holding you back.

Make Money Memory Work for You

Once you understand yourself and your money memory, you will be able to explore possibilities for changing money attitudes and money habits where needed. You can eliminate harmful thinking and reinforce those traits that are positive and helpful.