Whether you’re the ‘bossy’ older child, the ‘forgotten’ middle child, the ‘babied’ youngest – or a ‘spoilt’ only child, it appears your birth order can impact on your spending habits. We’ve been fascinated by the study of familial relationships for centuries, with sibling rivalry often a theme in mythology, literature, and even modern-day life between celeb siblings. But what have we learnt from these studies? And how can this knowledge help inform or reform our spending habits?
The oldest child
Firstborns tend to be more organised and punctual, and often are given more responsibility from a young age – i.e. looking after younger siblings. All of these personality traits lead to oldest children having healthy financial habits. If you’re a firstborn, you tend to invest your money wisely, for example you’re more likely to use your finances to add value to your home instead of making a rash impulsive purchase. You tend to be risk averse and have an innate drive to succeed. However, the perfectionist in you can often turn into anxiety, which can lead to burnout. To avoid the feelings of stress, or at least deal with them, using mindfulness tools like meditation, walking, and yoga can help maintain calm and tranquillity.
The middle child
Middle children tend to be good at solving problems and are often heralded as the family’s peacemaker. If you’re a middle child, you tend to be good at masking your true feelings – and as such your true financial situation. However, if you pretend you can afford everything your older sibling can, you can end up putting your budget in trouble. It’s important not to let pride cause you to overspend. Because you’re good at finding creative solutions to problems, this too can lead to you being creative with any financial problems. If this is the case, remember to ask for help from a professional.
The youngest child
If you’re the baby of the family, you’re used to the spotlight. As the youngest, family members are more likely to dote on you and give you more leeway with your responsibilities. You also tend to be more social than your siblings too. However, these gregarious characteristics can lead to poor money habits, often relying on your parents for financial support longer than your older siblings. To avoid the careless spending that comes with being a fun-loving, social character, create a budget and stick to it. Work out how much you spend on your social activities and figure out where you can cut back. Enjoy going out for dinner and drinks with friends? Why not host your own dinner parties, and ask everyone to bring a bottle and a course, while you provide the main dish?
The only child
If you’re an only child, you tend to share many of the great financial habits of the firstborn. Since you probably spent most of your life around adults, you tend to be more mature too. However, as an only child, you’re more inclined to impress others and take risks, which can have a negative impact on your finances as it can lead to overspending. While some risks will pay off, others may put a dampener on your bank accounts.
It’s important to remember that birth order is a theory, and while it may inform your habits, they don’t compel them.