As we celebrate Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month, I find myself reflecting on how many of my decisions are influenced by my culture and how they uncovered my money story.
What is Culture?
Culture encompasses many aspects of human life. At its most basic level, it refers to the shared beliefs, values, customs, and behaviors that characterize a particular group or society. These elements are transmitted from one generation to the next through language, socialization, education, art, music, literature, religion, and other forms of creative expression. Ultimately, culture shapes the way we see the world and our place in it, and it plays a fundamental role in our identities and sense of belonging.
What Does Culture Have to Do with Your Finances?
Various aspects of culture can influence finances, such as cultural norms and values surrounding family, individualism, debt, savings, and investment.
Some cultures view financial matters as a private and individualistic responsibility and may place a high value on individual wealth and view money as a measure of success, while others believe in pooling resources and making financial decisions together, prioritizing family and community over financial gain.
Additionally, cultural attitudes toward financial support for aging parents or adult children can also impact financial planning. Cultural practices such as gift-giving, weddings, and funerals can also be costly and impact one’s financial stability.
How Does Culture Affect You and Your Finances?
Financial stability is one of the Social Determinants of Health, so it affects your overall well-being and those around you.
The role of parents or caregivers growing up has the most significant impact on our relationships with money. Financial literacy, or lack thereof, was passed down by either direct lessons or passive actions that, good or bad, are the unconscious reason behind our financial decisions.
- Growing up in a house with limited resources and constantly struggling to make ends meet can bring feelings of anxiety and need to be excessively frugal.
Since we all come from different backgrounds that influence money views and, in most cases, with money baggage that might differ from those closest to us, for instance, different money views among partners can interfere with successfully implementing and reaching financial goals.
- Different lifestyles can cause discrepancies in savings and spending habits, becoming a source of contention for couples.
- Those from collectivistic and high-masculinity cultures can have a challenging time with the division of financial responsibilities and familial relationships and expectations.
Understanding these cultural differences can help create a successful and sustainable financial plan for you and your family.
How Understanding Your Culture Can Help You in Your Finances
Culture is essential to who we are, but that doesn’t mean we must be defined by our culture entirely. We can write different scripts and promote financial literacy for generational change.
We can always reflect on where we are and where we want to be. The following steps are a starting point to take control of your money story:
- Begin with you. Reflect and understand your own story and acknowledge the money baggage you bring to the table.
- Identify your feelings about money. It will help you identify the reasons and help you make changes.
- If you are in a relationship, marriage, or domestic partnership, understand that, like you, the other person has their own story, and acknowledging that is detrimental to those financial transitions that come with marriage.
- Determine what you want your money story to be and sit in the driver’s seat.
- We can’t change anything from our past. Our stories carry loads of generational information, and we might not even get to the root of our family tree, but we can write a different chapter.
By understanding the different elements that make us who we are and influence our financial decisions, we can make informed choices and achieve our financial goals. We can uncover our money story and rewrite it.