Learning about finances, says John Lanchester, author of How to Speak Money, is a bit like learning Chinese – ‘figuring out the meaning, word-by-word’. This, he says, is how he learned to ‘speak money’.
Many of the same theories that have been used to explain language acquisition – including behaviourism and cognitivism – Adrian Furnham reports have been used in conjunction with learning about money.
Just as our mother tongue is learned primarily in the home, supplemented by formal lessons at school, many of our ideas about money are formed in our early years in the family.
Summarising studies of ‘money troubled’ adults, Furnham states that many of their troubles originate in ‘lessons’ learned as a child, with the family as the primary socialisation unit. ‘Teaching economic literacy, good money management and sensible saving and spending should be a parental priority, Furnham points out, referring to Charles Collier’s notion of ‘financial parenting’ in the book Wealth in Families.
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