Whether you’re the oldest, youngest or somewhere in between in your family, experts say your birth order has a lot of pull with your finances. In fact, birth order can affect your relationship with money and how adeptly you manage your credit score.
Here’s a look at some traits synonymous with birth order that can influence your finances.
First Borns/Only Children
Fierce responsibility is a prominent trait of first borns and only children, says Soroya Bacchus, MD, a triple board certified psychiatrist based in Los Angeles, Calif.
“First borns are often the most punctual about finance because they love to be seen as stable and dependable,” says Bacchus. That punctuality means a first born is less likely to let financial details like payment due dates slip through the cracks. They’re also not keen on letting credit card rewards lapse and usually avoid unnecessary over the limit fees.
Bacchus says first borns are also phenomenally organized and “keep their finances in order.” So they often have great credit scores.
And since 35 percent of your FICO score is based on paying bills on time, being responsible helps your credit score.
Bacchus says middles are inventive and natural problem solvers. That’s because they grow up thinking they can handle anything themselves, including money problems since they’re often resolving fights between other siblings.
Being inventive means middle children will be open to continually exploring new credit card offers to find the one that offers the best APR and rewards options. But that inventive nature can also get middle children into financial hot water, if they’re not careful.
“It can result in constantly moving debt around between different cards through cash advances and balance transfers,” says Chris Dlugozima, certified consumer credit counselor, GreenPath Debt Solutions.
That inventive nature could also open the door to secrecy, says Bacchus. ‘Inventing’ ways to a pay a bill to or to afford an impulse splurge can create the need to cover up, or ignore, financial troubles and hide financial secrets like unpaid bills and accounts sent to collection from their spouses because they believe they could fix the problem themselves.
“Then when a middle and their mate seek a mortgage, car loan, etc. together, a middle’s “in the dark” spouse may be blindsided with a rejection because of the money-hiding middle’s secret poor credit scores,” says Dlugozima.
Babies of the family
The baby of the family is usually very social, according to Bacchus. “They tend to prioritize lunch or dinner out with friends, daily lattes or weekly manicures over budgets, leaving little – or no – money to pay bills.”
It’s tough for babies of the family to spot what activities and luxuries are the first ones to cut when facing a budget crisis, according to Derrick KinneyChFC, CASL, and CLTC, a financial advisor at Derrick Kinney & Associates in Arlington, Texas. “A social youngest child will have problems learning to value saving long-term over the instant gratification of a social event,” he says.
Babies of the family with money problems might want to blame mom and dad. Bacchus says parents often dote on the youngest children, conditioning them to rely on others. “Babies get into financial trouble because they can’t handle responsibility and may even believe someone will fix their financial problems if their parents have paid bills for them,” says Bacchus.