Personal Finance

What are your family financial values?

My wife and I talk about money a lot. While some studies suggest that money issues can be a significant catalyst for marital problems, I think having open lines of communication about money is extremely healthy. I also think talking openly about money also sets a good example for our kids. I want our kids to know about our beliefs and values around money so I don’t want to keep these financial discussions behind closed doors. I think this is an important part of teaching kid about financial responsibility.

Related article: Teaching financial responsibility to kids

It’s easier to talk constructively about money when you speak from a unified front so one of the things I have been thinking about is the importance of developing a family financial value system.

What is a financial value system?

A financial value system is simply a belief system about money. What are your beliefs around spending, debt, investing, saving, income, and basic money management? You may have an informal ad-hoc belief system but the goal should be to formalize and document your values and beliefs.

To help you develop a financial value system, here’s a set of questions to get you thinking about these values and beliefs. Each parent starts be answering questions independently and then they come together to discuss these answers with each other.

Although I have written this article from the perspective of being a parent, I also believe that developing your personal financial values is important even if you are not married or don’t have kids. Anyone can answer these questions to get a better understanding of their money beliefs.


  1. Do you consider yourself a spender? Why or why not?
  2. How often are you an impulsive spender?
  3. What is your biggest weakness when it comes to spending money?
  4. What are your values and philosophies on SPENDING MONEY?

Related article: Conscious vs unconscious spending


  1. If you want to buy something are you opposed to going into debt to buy it?
  2. What is your feeling about keeping a balance on your credit cards?
  3. On a scale of 0 to 10, how important is it for you to put debt reduction as a priority?
  4. Are you more likely to practice delayed gratification or delayed consequence?
  5. What are your values and philosophies around MANAGING DEBT?

Related article: Debt advice vs Debt products


  1. Which is more important to you? Saving money or paying down debt? Why?
  2. Do you consider yourself a natural saver? Why or Why not?
  3. What strategies are best for you when it comes to saving money?
  4. What are your values and philosophies around SAVING MONEY?

Related article: Principles of saving money


  1. How do you feel about your current income? Why?
  2. How do you feel about your future earning potential? Why?
  3. What are your values and philosophies around EARNING INCOME?


  1. How do you stay on top of your personal finances?
  2. Are you financially organized?
  3. Keeping track of finances is responsible behaviour. How do you keep track of your finances?

Related article: Creating a money management system



  1. Kurt @ Money Counselor

    I think this would be an excellent tool for couples planning to get married to work through before The Big Day. You’re right–very different and oppositional money values can cause big, chronic problems in a marriage. Best to be aware and get a plan going to work through them before taking vows, I think.

  2. Harshit @ Smart Money Junction

    Hi Jim, nice to see an article that covers one’s family’s financial values. As for myself, I am glad to have been brought up in a family that values money to a great extent and had taught me to save & invest regularly. My parents always spent on necessities which meant we were able to reach our monthly saving targets and they have passed on the same habits to me, which I’m sure will pay rich dividends in the years to come.

  3. Claude Mayrand


    This is the start of a high school course that should be mandatory and part of the graduating requirements. Also any university and technical school, regardless of the program.

    Other part of the course would be explaining the CRA and the implications for investors, the unfortunate name for the CPP (which is really a supplement to a personal pension plan), the CPPIB, the TSX, the Bank of Canada, etc.

  4. Tom Drake

    Great list of questions Jim, everyone should take the time to ask themselves these and answer honestly.

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