From the mid-’60s to now, Gen X has arguably witnessed more significant societal transformations than any other generation. Modern life today is almost indistinguishable from the lives many remember from childhood.
And while this can be positive or negative, depending on where you shift your focus, there’s one area where this change is decidedly good: Money. Because, as it turns out, your Gen X childhood just might be making your financial life miserable.
Financial coach Mikelann Valterra sat down with The Mean Show to discuss how growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s is still disaffecting us today.
Old School Ideas About Money
Financial wellness is by no means a cut-and-dry topic. From lifestyle to mental health and everything in between, a lot can affect—and disaffect—your bank accounts. But Valterra suggests that a large part of these struggles are rooted in antiquated ideas about money, both in regards to gender and etiquette.
Valterra explains that while researching middle-aged women’s relationship to money, she found that, “if you had a brother, it is far more likely that your parents would have talked with him about money. There was this assumption that, of course, boys need to learn how to handle money. Boys were not only given more opportunities than girls around earning money but also, there was just more conversation.”
Moreover, “regardless of the gender piece, a lot of families have this belief [that it’s] wrong to talk about money,” Valterra continues. “At some point, every kid will say to their parents, ‘how much money do you make?’ That’s the moment where it’s really interesting how a family will respond to something like that.”
“A lot of families will say, ‘we don’t talk about that,’ and just shut the whole conversation down. There’s this belief that many of us inherit from early childhood that says you don’t talk about money. And if you do, things happen, and people get mad. There’s conflict around money.”
Moving Into A New Money Mindset
“Here we are as these awesome adult women, and it’s hard for us to talk about money with our partners. Or our friends,” Valterra says. This discomfort manifests in everyday situations—paying for the check after a group meal, planning vacations, or managing budgets.
Luckily, these stigmas and genderizations of finances are starting to faze out, and Valterra contributes this important transition to the simple act of talking about it. Throughout the rest of her interview, Valterra explains that the key to diminishing anxiety around money is to face it head-on.
While it might seem counterintuitive at first, this discomfort is a good sign. As our society breaks down the taboo around money, it can become a normal part of daily conversation—not a scary subject reserved for serious occasions.
Moreover, as we start to unlearn the misogynistic genderization of money, we can become more in control of our financial well-being. As the host of The Mean Show states at the beginning of the interview, “turning 50 doesn’t mean it’s time to fade into the background; it means we know what we’re doing, and we’re not afraid to do it.”
Taking Control Over Your Finances (And Happiness)
Releasing the preconceived notions about money you learned in childhood is no small task, but it isn’t impossible. There are several ways to regain control over your finances, including seeking help from a financial coach like Valterra.
And since most of us cohabitate with a partner, relative, or other close loved one, it’s also essential to identify your financial roles in the relationship. An honest assessment of everyone’s spending habits can help determine a more successful dynamic balance.
Another way to keep the finance talk free-flowing is to have regular monthly dates with your partner. These scheduled times for discussing money can help clear up miscommunications, streamline your budget, and better prepare for the future.
Finally, it’s important to remember that these things take time. Even the best-intentioned budgets can sometimes fail. That’s not an excuse to stop trying; it’s just an opportunity to try another course of action.
While your Gen X upbringings might have brought about some not-so-savory habits and beliefs, those same upbringings equipped us with the perseverance, flexibility, and wit to change for the better.