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National Survey Reveals Lifelong Influence of Debt DNA

Saving for a rainy day? Chances are you learned that from your parents. Worry a lot about money and debt? Parents and grandparents most likely did as well. Big spender? Charitable giver? You probably didn’t come up with those traits on your own. Turns out we inherit a lot more from our parents than eye color.

A recent survey of 811 Americans, commissioned by the national nonprofit organization, Consumer Education Services, Inc., found similarities between the saving/spending habits of adults and their childhood experience with money. Of those surveyed, 49% say they grew up in a house with frugal parents or whose parents taught them about money. Also, 47% were given an allowance growing up, and 46% save money on a regular basis.

“Debt DNA is a term we use to describe how people’s money habits are influenced by their parents’ actions as well as the culture/environment they grew up in,” explains Neil Ellington, Executive Vice President of CESI. “There are multiple factors that influence how we spend money but very often our counselors find clients either forgot the money lessons they learned as a child or circumstances such as a job loss or medical crisis forced them to abandon what their parents taught.”

Other findings:
· 73% were told by their parents the family could not afford something because of money issues.
· 78% say they grew up in a home where they knew money was tight but it wasn’t always talked about.
· 75% were told they needed to wait a while to get something they wanted.
· 45% say they are saving for a rainy day or the comfort of knowing there is money for an emergency.
· 70% consider themselves thrifty or at least careful spenders

What the experts say
“While it is encouraging people know about the importance of saving, the reality is many people need to do a better job of saving,” adds Ellington. “The wise saying of pay yourself first, putting a regular portion of your paycheck into savings, is as true today as when our parents taught it. The great recession reminded everyone of that.”

You can view the full survey results here.

Filed Under: News and Press

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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.


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