Money Habits Have Family Roots

By Eileen AJ Connelly, AP Personal Finance Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — If every budget you've ever tried has failed, maybe it's because you didn't first examine your attitudes toward money.

Personal relationships with money reflect influences that go all the way back to childhood. Kids learn from the ways their parents handle spending, saving and debt. Other family members, peer groups and, of course, advertising and marketing also have an impact.

You may rebel against these experiences, or emulate them. But the growing field that combines behavioral psychology and personal finance says the lessons you learned as a child will continue to play a role long after you're on your own.

That doesn't mean you can't take control of your spending and saving habits. Whether you hope to save to buy a house, pay down debt or shed that Scrooge-like reputation, the key to financial success is awareness of the role money plays in your life.

The recession and its aftermath has sparked new interest in finding the root causes of money problems, said Kathleen Gurney, founder of Financial Psychology Corp. and author of "Your Money Personality." She said more people are doing some personal reckoning and trying to break free from ingrained patterns. That requires "recognizing what's behind them and using that knowledge to develop new habits," said Gurney, who is based in Sarasota, Fla.

Gurney developed nine profiles to broadly categorize money behaviors. With names like Hunters, High Rollers, Safety Players, Achievers, and Perfectionists, the profiles are based on 13 traits identified using a series of questions to probe childhood memories and adult behaviors linked to money. There are several other similar programs that use personality traits, with numerous quizzes available online.

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