your father’s eyes & your mother’s love of spending

Gustav Vigeland

Gustav Vigeland                                                                                                               photo: Kevin Burden

blue eyes & managing money

Can your style of managing money really be passed on to your children through your genes in the same way that blue eyes might be?

Or is the home environment and the money skills demonstrated by the parents more influential?

identical twins

The home environment is certainly important. But interestingly there may also be a genetic element, which shapes your children’s attitude to money.

As you probably know, research has been done on identical twins1, observing sets raised together and also those separated at birth.  Whether the twins grow up together in the same home environment or apart, the chances of them having very similar personalities, interests and attitudes as each other were the same, at around 50%.

As identical twins have the same genetic make up, we know therefore that quite a large part of our personality is in our genes.

money personality

What aspects of your money personality are inheritable?

In their excellent book Silver Spoon Kids (reviewed here in our book gallery), Eileen and Jon Gallo, lay out their ideas about money personality.

acquisition, use & management of money

According to the Gallos there are three dimensions to our money personalities – acquisition, use and management.

For each dimension we’re all on a spectrum – at one end over-regulating and at the other end under-regulating our behaviour.

The middle range is where we want to be, neither over-regulating nor under-regulating.

Money Acquisition relates to how you obtain money.  At one end of the spectrum you have a person prepared to bend rules/break laws to acquire more.  At the other end is the avoidant, the person who thinks money is the root of all evil and for whom its acquisition is only grudgingly accepted.

Money Use relates to how much of a spender or saver you are.  At the one end you have the miser, or over-regulator, and at the other the compulsive over-spender, under-regulating their behaviour.

Money Management relates to how you handle money, including paying bills, managing your investments etc.  At one end you have the obsessive-compulsive who over-regulates by micro-managing down to the last penny.  At the other end the chaotic individual who is disorganised and procrastinates in dealing with their day to day money matters.

are these attributes inheritable though?

Our observations of our oldest daughter, Ella, and her cautious spending and prudent approach is that it must be, a least a little bit, inherited from her Dad.

However, we believe that we parents can play a fundamental and positive role in guiding our children’s relationship with money.  The Gallos suggest that parents can help children steer a middle course in each money dimension, by first recognising where they are on the spectrum for each dimension themselves.

So what are your and your children’s money personalities?!

the photo

The lovely sculpture, Family, accompanying this post is by Gustav Vigeland and can be found in the Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo.

any questions?

If you’ve got a query about this, or any other aspect of your financial life, Nick would be delighted to help. You can email him on


1 Minnesota Study of Twins Research