No matter our age, we can become more mindful about money; here are some tips for how to do it, for parents and everyone

Have you ever made financial choices that you later regretted? If so, you are not alone.

A new Charles Schwab Financial Literacy survey finds that 59% of Americans wish their younger selves had known more about the value of saving money. More than half wish they had had learned more about basic money management, including how to set and work toward financial goals.

Surveys consistently find that many people lack basic financial literacy skills, and it’s no wonder. Unlike many subjects taught in school, financial literacy is often an afterthought — something that people are left to pick up on their own with little or no formal training.

The costs of approaching our finances mindlessly are low savings, high debt, and a lifetime of financial worry. In contrast, becoming more mindful in our financial lives pays lifelong dividends, for ourselves and our families.

As parents, we have the power, through financial socialization, to provide our children with good habits to carry them through their lives. And no matter our age, we can become more thoughtful about how we approach saving and spending decisions.

Financial socialization is a learned process of acquiring knowledge about money and money management and developing skills in financial practices such as banking, budgeting, saving, and credit card use. It is how we learn to spend, save, share, and invest, and includes all of our attitudes about money and finances.

Positive financial socialization is evident when we have a plan for the money that comes into our accounts each month. It means knowing how much of each paycheck we will save and why we are saving, be it to retire early, buy a new house, or fund a college education. As a result we have a clear vision for the future and feel in control.

Negative financial socialization is evident in lack of planning. When you get a paycheck, you put all of it in your checking account and spend it all without thought or purpose. You have little or no savings to accomplish goals and feel out of control .

Financial socialization can be learned and practiced like any other life skill, and learning takes place best when we are active, engaged, social, and building meaningful connections. Here are some tips to become more mindful about money:

● Examine your learned mindset around money. Most of us learned whatever financial socialization we have from our upbringing. Think about what you learned about money and finances from your parents to help you better understand positive and negative aspects of your own financial socialization.

● Discover your financial personality and how it influences your spending and saving decisions. The Financial Times has identified six financial personality types. Take their quiz at to determine the one that fits you best, and use it to examine how you make decisions about money.

● Think of financial socialization in terms of peace of mind. Money is a leading cause of stress, but by practicing deliberate thinking you can adopt more positive financial behaviors. Doing so will decrease your anxiety around financial matters.

Becoming more conscious of how you spend and save will not only help you meet your financial goals, it will also demonstrate the same skills for your children. Here are some additional tips for parents to help kids become more mindful about money:

1. Find teachable moments when your child wants to buy something new. When possible, have your child pay or participate in a spending decision.

2. Introduce the concept of a budget to your child as soon as they begin to spend. Talk to them about the budgeting required to buy their favorite thing.

3. Create financial learning opportunities that allow children to be active, not passive, participants in the process. For instance, before making any major purchase, have your children do the research to understand what they truly can afford.

4. Teach your children to put time and space between their purchases. Helping them plan ahead to make purchases will help them overcome the desire for instant gratification that drives impulsive spending.

Mindful spending is spending that aligns with your values. Remind your children that abundance is within them, not in things. Real wealth comes from your soul, spirit, character, and values. Teach children to spend less, research more, and understand that earning and saving money is the key to success.

Author's Bio: 

Stephanie W. Mackara, JD, CDFA™, is President & Principal Wealth Advisor of Charleston Investment Advisors, LLC. A financial socialization expert, Stephanie is a wife, mother, and author of the new book “Money Minded Families.” She teaches people that financial wellness begins with your mindset, not your bank account. Learn more at