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Family, Friends, and Finances

Financial Role Models and Your Money: 5 Minutes with Carlos Travieso

Carlos Travieso, a Thrivent financial professional and teacher at heart, talks to us about the importance of financial role models in developing a positive relationship with money.

Grandfather and grandson

"Who taught you about money?" That's the first question Carlos Travieso asks his clients when meeting them for the first time to discuss financial planning. To Carlos, learning about a client's financial role model is an essential step in the financial planning process.

Financial role models, financial planning and how we make sense of money

Who are the most common financial role models you see with clients?

A: Parents are the most influential when we're young, and what we learn when we're young can stick with us all our lives. Grandparents are also a big influence, as are friends and family members of the same age who are making smart (or not so smart) decisions.

For adults, it's peers, but I find that spouses have a strong influence on their relationship with money, naturally because you spend the most amount of time with them.Carlos Travieso, Thrivent Financial Professional

Q: How can a financial role model impact someone's financial judgment?

A: I see how a financial role model's experience with certain products creates a lot of confusion around the purpose and application of those products. Clients come in with baggage regarding products that friends or a family member had purchased, and it didn't work out the way they thought it would. But often the tool isn't the problem, it was the misplacement of that tool. You're not going to use a hammer in every application of building a home. And when a client uses a hammer because a role model used one, but they really should have used a saw in that instance, there's a lot of disappointment associated with that.

Q: Was there a financial role model in your life that influenced your relationship with money?

A: Certainly. I watched my dad work seven days a week, and that has served me well when it comes to my relationship with money, time and energy.

Also, my grandmother always worked so hard to make a living and she always spoiled me with anything she could afford to, so I naturally learned a lot about hard work and generosity to others.  

Q: Is it important to have different financial role models throughout your life?

A: Yes, learning is a process and financial literacy is an incredibly important subject that people need to be educated on all their life. Financial role models are a big part of that.

In high school, for example, I had an awesome Economics teacher who really planted the seed that I wanted to help people with money. As an adult, I've learned a lot from my father-in-law, he's always been so gracious with his time and energy and resources.

Q: As a financial professional, and as a father, do you feel you have a unique responsibility to be a financial role model?

A: I'm a teacher at heart, I just happen to love this subject and it makes it easier to teach. So, I do think that I have a responsibility to implement financial literacy as a subject matter. Coming from my cultural background in the minority area, finances are a pretty taboo subject. Whether for me in particular – I'm Puerto Rican – the broader Hispanic or Latino community or the Black community, that literacy is insanely important to all our collective benefit. 

Culture definitely had an impact on my financial education, and I have taken a different, more open approach with my own kids. Thankfully, my parents always had a healthy relationship with money that I observed even though there were no explicit conversations.

Q: Is there a certain positive lesson you learned from a financial role model that you are intentionally passing down to your children?

A: Work ethic! Every financial role model I've had has that common trait and my wife and I very intentionally teach it to our kids.

Q: What are some of the most important lessons a parent can teach their kids about finances and financial planning?

A: It really all starts with a relationship with money. I think it's important for people to educate their kids that money is not a goal in and of itself, it's simply a tool. It’s a necessary tool, but it's just a tool. Also, I think if more kids learned to consider the time and energy that it takes to build up resources, that would make a big impact.

Q: How can working with a financial professional help people pass on good financial habits and lessons?

A: Your children observe your actions whether or not you're intentionally being a financial role model. That's why I think it’s so critically important to assess your relationship with money to make sure you're making decisions based on today's circumstances and what's ahead in the future, rather than emotions or baggage from the past. Someone who is not working with a financial professional could be looking through a microscope today, and totally disregard the future. Through a financial professional relationship, we can create a plan that is not only mindful of today but also the future. Doing it alone, you may be missing out on significant positive impacts, and another positive financial role model.

Ready to discuss finances with your teens, but don't know where to start? Check out these conversation starters and finance topics from "Teach Your Teens" – an article in Thrivent magazine.

How have your financial role models influenced your relationship with money? When you work with a Thrivent financial professional, you can align your financial goals with your bigger picture and identify which influences may be helping or hindering your path. Connect with a financial professional near you to take the next step toward financial clarity.