Research shows that receiving financial education from our parents can lead to improved financial behaviors. To explore this connection further, Retirement Director Ben Rizzuto spoke with Senior Investor Service Specialist Sam Sheridan, who discussed how the simple money lessons he learned growing up helped shape how he conducts his financial life today.

Our parents impart countless lessons as we’re growing up, both to help us understand the world around us and to instill their own personal values. Many of these teachings are financial in nature and often take the form of time-worn axioms. We’ve all been warned that money can’t buy happiness. Everyone knows money doesn’t grow on trees. And of course you should never spend money before you’ve earned it.

While these sayings may seem simplistic, they are still 100% valid. And lessons like these can go a long way toward shaping our notions of how to be responsible with money.

In fact, recent research shows that this type of parent-initiated financial education has a greater impact on our financial habits than we might think. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning found a strong link between financial education from one’s parents and improved financial behaviors, such as calculating the income needed in retirement – an exercise that ultimately made people more likely to establish an IRA.1

These findings intrigued me, and I thought it would be interesting to interview one of our interns here to gain some real-life insight on the topic. So as part of our Next Generation of Investors program, I sat down with Sam Sheridan, who is participating in Janus Henderson’s Discovery Intern program, which gives employees within our Mutual Fund Operations group an opportunity to expand their knowledge of different business areas across the firm. We discussed the types of financial education Sam’s family provided to him growing up. Following is a short excerpt from our conversation.

What sort of lessons did your parents teach you when you were growing up?

I remember them telling me to always look someone in the eye and shake with a firm hand. There were also a lot of lessons related to money and financial matters.

Tell me more about those financial lessons.

My parents always emphasized saving money and developing good habits. As with many kids, I started with the proverbial piggy bank that eventually turned into a savings account. Over time, my parents began teaching me practical lessons to apply. One concept they taught me is “A dollar saved is a dollar earned.” Of course everyone’s heard that saying, but it taught me the difference between simply setting a few dollars aside and accumulating wealth. Another lesson my parents taught me is “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else,” the point being to live below your means in the present, save extra money and allow it to grow into a comfortable lifestyle in the future.

How did those lessons translate into adulthood?

These lessons resonated with me as a kid and ultimately came to influence the way I approach my personal finances as an adult. Once I graduated from college and began earning more income, I was actually eager to start saving money. When I started working with Janus Henderson, I opened a 401(k) and participated in the company match. I also contribute to a Roth IRA every month to diversify my retirement savings. I constantly remind myself that a dollar saved is indeed a dollar earned and that by saving more money now, I can set myself up for future success.

 

Even though kids may shake their heads when we try to impart some wisdom, you can see that in Sam’s case, these simple lessons ultimately translated into how he conducts himself financially today. As we were discussing the research, he said: “By providing children with financial education, parents can create long-term value and help their children to shape their financial path.”

I think that statement perfectly sums up the invaluable opportunity at hand, both for parents and the financial professionals they work with. By making financial education a family matter and starting these lessons – even in their most basic form – at an early age, parents can have a positive impact on their children’s financial future. This is also a clear opportunity for financial professionals to not only encourage this type of education, but also offer their support and guidance to help enhance it.

Engage with your Retirement Director to learn more about Janus Henderson’s Next Generation of Investors program, designed to help you, your clients and their children be prepared and build solid foundations for the future.

1“Factors Associated with the Ownership of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior.” Journal of Financial Planning and Counseling, November 2020.