Is Wealth Hereditary?

I’m currently reading a book that talks extensively about how our attitudes affect the way we spend our money. The book reads like a “get-rich-quick” manual, but so far has some good points. I plan on reviewing it here when I finish, so you can decide for yourself.

According to the author, the way our parents handled money has a lot to do with how we handle money. Obvious, yes. But what I thought was interesting is that the author took it a step further and mentioned examples of people he met that mentally handled their money completely differently than their parents – but had the same end results.

For instance, the author himself talks about how his father’s wealth came in cycles – he invested in a venture, and for that time, the family was dirt poor. They would stay poor for a year or two as the venture developed. After some time, the father would sell the venture for quite a bit and the family would have more discretionary money than they needed. Eventually the money would run low and the father would mortgage the house once again to invest in another venture. And the cycle would repeat.

What did the son (our author) learn from that? Not simply to invest in ventures, and to mortgage the house to do it. He learned that wealth came in cycles. Money could not be permanent.

The author infers that a lot of the erronous ideas our parents “taught” us are based on the limited understanding we have as children about the motivation behind adult situations such as finances . The author misunderstood a complicated situation with a simple interpretation of the events, and it permeated his beliefs about how money works.

So, with the author’s premise, a child who grows up watching his parents refuse to give to charity because they simply have nothing to give might grow up to be scrooge-like – even if he or she has millions of dollars. The child didn’t understand the motivation behind his parents’ actions – just the behavior.

According to the author, the reasons why some people never make it rich is simply because they have the wrong idea about money – and even that some people subconsciously sabotage themselves. I’m trying to decide whether or not I believe these premises. I’ve been thinking about my own childhood experiences with money and trying to decide if I might have gotten the wrong idea as a child, since obviously I’ve had issues with using money (and credit) irresponsibly.

I don’t think that my parents were a bad example when it came to money. I know they were frugal because they had to be, and that they worked their way up through the ladders of societal wealth to where they are today. I now know – after talking to them about this blog – that they were in a similar situation when they were younger, but I didn’t know it at the time.

But is that why I spend money like I have done and do now? Even if my behavior is very different from my parents? I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it some more and come up with an answer for later.

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