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Do You Have the 'Saving Gene'?

Taylor Brown

Taylor BrownWould you rather buy the new Apple product or save that money in an interest bearing account? When is the right time for a person to start saving? I was lucky enough to have great parents that instilled the importance of saving in my brain. But I also had a different "saving gene" than my three older sisters who tended to and still do spend more than me. So my biggest question is do people that tend to save more than others have a predisposed "saving gene"? According to an article written in Time Magazine titled &Born to Spend (or Save): It's All in Your Genes, parenting and life experiences have an impact, especially on the saving and spending habits of young people. Still, by the age of 40, the authors assert, learned money behaviors recede and habits are almost fully governed by a person's genetic predispositions.

The right time to start saving is as early as possible. Around the age of six, I remember receiving checks from my grandma and cash from certain aunts around the holidays and on my birthdays. Most normal kids would take their checks to the bank and cash them in to go buy a really cool new Lego set or Barbie accessory. I remember throwing my cash in my cartoon wallet and when it accumulated to about $300 my mom would say, "We better drive to the bank and put that in your savings". I loved seeing my money accumulate in my cartoon wallet. For me, it was the best present ever getting a deposit ticket from the bank. What a weird kid! However, saving is not completely genetic. In fact, I believe saving is a part of one's environment when they are growing up. When I was little my dad would tell me and my sisters, "Whatever amount that you put in the bank, I will match half of that." That certainly encouraged us to save our money! Part of this fascination with seeing money grow came from watching my mom and dad invest money back into their business to promote growth. Perhaps the reason I wanted to save was because of either a gene I had inherited or the exposure to entrepreneurship I had at such a young age. I saw the value that saving money had on the growth of a company and I wanted to start saving at a young age, just in case I wanted to use the money I had saved one day a startup company. There are so many kids that have great business ideas, but do not have the financial literacy or the money in their savings account to understand what it means to start a business, or what it entails. Financial literacy and a monetary mindset need to be integrated more into education and into parenting.

SavingsMy mom and dad made sure that my family understood the importance of saving and how that saving could bear interest. When we each got our first job, it became innate for each one of us at every paycheck to stick at least half in our savings accounts. There were others kids who would spend a majority of their paycheck because they really liked seeing their money in material form. I realized to a large extent how much I liked to save when my mom would not pay for a shirt I really wanted. She would say "If you really want that shirt, then you need to buy it". Boy did that make me realize how much I really did not want, or need, that shirt.

Sure, there are those special occasions where I would and still do splurge for a pair of shoes that I really want, or occasions where I have to spend in order to survive. I am not saying that it is bad thing to be a spender. Sometimes we have to be spenders to pay for important life assets such as college, food, and living space. But I am not talking about that type of spending. I am talking about the savers versus the spenders.

Saving and spending is an innate mindset. Neither is wrong nor right, it is a preference. There are extremes to both sides. The savers can take it to an extreme and not invest anything in people or happiness and there are the spenders that waste away their retirement. Saving and spending is a gene, but this gene can be manipulated by increased financial literacy and the environment that one grows up in. It is important to be aware of the gene you inherited and use a strong monetary mindset towards the importance of saving and spending. Increased financial literacy and the monetary mindset will have a strong impact on future entrepreneurs, even at a young age.

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