Some messages are very direct. For example, if parents have a rule against cellphones at the dinner table and everyone follows the rule, the message is clear. On the other hand, if parents say they don’t want cellphones at the dinner table, but they break the rule themselves, this sends a confusing message.
When it comes to money management, children learn through direct teaching from their parents and teachers, but they also learn by watching. They see how their parents and guardians manage money; they see how their friends and friends’ families spend money; and they get messages from TV, movies, advertisements and many other sources.
Hidden or mixed messages about money in childhood can turn into adult habits. If you are told that you should save money, but childhood experiences convinced you that saving money is impossible because you’re just “not a saver,” or if spending money was a way for you to rebel, or a way to find comfort, then as an adult you might sabotage your own savings because you are acting out unconscious beliefs you picked up in childhood.