Bad money habits learned at home


Louisville, KY—April 18, 2017—Social learning theory, a psychological developmental model organized by Albert Bandura, incorporates the concept of observational learning or modeling. “What this means in laymen’s terms is that we learn from watching and, over time, imitating others. Just as it does in other realms, our parents’ approach to finances can impact our relationship with money,” said Carla Dearing, CEO of SUM180, an online financial planning service designed to be simple and affordable.

“Parents rarely set out to teach their kids unhealthy values or habits when it comes to money. That said, as children, we watch how our parents manage their money and absorb these lessons unconsciously. Unfortunately, sometimes these unspoken lessons can be damaging. The good news is that, as adults, we are in a position to step back and dismantle the underlying influences from our parents that may be hurting us financially,” Carla continued.

To help create the awareness needed to overcome unconscious behaviors, Carla identifies three financial mistakes that can be traced back to parental modeling:

  1. Playing it too safe financially. One woman whose parents had been very conservative or nervous about money repeatedly passed up career opportunities that were ‘too entrepreneurial’ in favor of ‘safe’ jobs that were less exciting or rewarding, but more predictable. Similarly, she avoided investing in the stock market, assuming, as her parents had, that it was too risky and not for amateurs like her. Everyone’s tolerance for risk is different, of course. The point here is to understand your own risk tolerance and respect it, rather than live unconsciously replicating someone else’s.
  2. Spending as therapy/reward: ‘You’re worth it.’ I’ve heard about this one many times from both friends and clients. One woman’s mother regularly rewarded her children with money or gifts. Later, as an adult, that woman used shopping both to motivate herself professionally and as personal therapy. If she exceeded a work goal, she bought a new purse. If she was having relationship problems, she bought shoes. Unless you are good about watching your budget, this is the kind of habit that can easily get out of hand and cause big problems.
  3. Giving yourself financial ‘freebies.’ This is the habit of treating certain expenses as if they are non-negotiable and ‘don’t really count’ budget-wise. It is the financial equivalent of telling yourself that the food you eat on vacation has no calories. For one woman I know, the ‘freebie’ is dining out at a nice restaurant every week. For another woman, the freebie is taking a vacation with her family every year. If you learned as a child to associate these particular expenses with ‘family values,’ then, even as an adult, the expenses can be easy to justify—no matter what your bank balance.

“The key to breaking these harmful financial habits is self-awareness. It’s not always easy, but once you recognize an unhealthy habit in yourself, you have the power to change it. Sometimes this involves asking for help. We don’t come with an operations manual that provides us with all the information we need to move effortlessly through life—or deal with our finances. Forgive yourself—and your parents!—for past money mistakes and move forward starting from where you are now,” Carla concluded.

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About SUM180

SUM180 is an online financial wellness service designed to make planning and dealing with your money simple and affordable.
Specifically, SUM180 is differentiated in the following ways:

  • SUM180 meets people where they are. SUM180 plans are personalized to help people wherever they are right now on their financial journey; whether they’re just beginning, starting over or well on their way.
  • SUM180 plans are simple. They start with only the three (3) most important next steps, making them easier to accomplish, and gives clients a clear picture of where they are.
  • SUM180 doesn’t assume clients want to become financial experts to meet their financial goals. SUM180 provides the tools they need, without overwhelming them with “education” and details they don’t need.
  • SUM180 offers a community for users, unfiltered, which allows them to explore and share.
  • SUM180 serves; never sells. Earning and keeping client trust is SUM180’s highest priority. SUM180 never makes commissions from any of its recommendations, ever.

Additional information about SUM180 may be found at