As we prepare to celebrate Mother's Day, we consider some of the ways she helped us understand how to manage money.
In a few short days, it’ll be time to once again recognize the most important woman in many of our lives.
Yes, Mother’s Day is almost here. You haven’t forgotten, have you?
While you’re thinking about how best to thank her, consider some of the ways that your mom helped marshal the family resources, and helped you learn how to save and spend money. Did she help you make your first purchase? Did she help you set up a savings account, or send you to the store for a carton of milk?
As a tribute to mothers everywhere, Money Talks News hit the streets to find out the top financial lessons people learned from their mothers.
Here’s what we heard people say about maternal money wisdom. Turns out, moms are a sensible bunch.
1. Spend less than you make
Photo (cc) by Jaoa Trindade
That’s the advice Stacy Johnson’s mom gave him and, given that he took it and ran with it, she gets credit for helping turn him into the finance expert he is today. Her words of wisdom underscore the most basic truth of money management: If you spend more than you make, you’re headed down the path to debt, stress and maybe even bankruptcy court.
2. Borrow only as a last resort
Photo (cc) by Images Money
Along with not spending more than you make, Johnson’s mom advised him never to borrow unless needed.
Getting a mortgage may be a necessity in the modern world, but we doubt Ma Johnson would approve of going into debt for a big-screen TV.
3. Save for a rainy day
Photo (cc) by 401(k) savings
Another piece of money advice regularly dispensed by moms is to save for a rainy day. One day it’s going to pour — and despite what Geri Halliwell says, it won’t be raining men.
Be ready for those emergencies by having a dedicated savings account. If you’re squeaking by financially, start by rolling coins and work your way up. Eventually, you’ll want to have enough in the bank to cover at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.
Photo (cc) by Southern Arkansas University
Moms want their kids to do better than they did. When we asked Money Talks News readers for their moms’ money advice, “Njmom” wrote that her mother told her: “Get a good education and be independent so you don’t have to put up with the crap I have to.”
Education can really be an excellent investment: The average high school graduate earned $678 a week in 2015, compared with $1,137 for college graduates and $1,623 for people with doctoral degrees, according to Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But it’s not an automatic good deal. It takes planning. Tuition debt — the average graduate carries $30,000 to $40,000 in loan balances — weighs down many graduates’ lives. The lesson: Get your college education as cheaply as you can. Read “Go to College Without Borrowing a Dime” to learn how.
5. Splurge after a job well done
Photo (cc) by Ron Dolette
Moms are sensible, but they also know life needs to be savored.
If you reach a goal, complete a difficult project or come to a milestone, feel free to treat yourself to something special. However, be sure to keep your splurge in line with your budget. If you’re living on ramen noodles, going on a cruise isn’t the right way to celebrate a raise.
6. Practice gratitude
Photo (cc) by John Hain
“We didn’t have much money, but my mother knew how to make the simplest things fun. One thing I learned from her is to make a conscious decision to be happy with what you have — don’t allow yourself to pine for things you can’t afford,” MoneyTalksNews reader Lorilu says.
Lorilu’s mom’s wisdom is backed up by research. Thinking or writing about what they feel grateful for often provokes feelings of optimism and satisfaction, many researchers find.
7. Stock up smartly
Photo (cc) by James Havard
Moms with hungry mouths to feed and small bodies to clothe are masters of spotting a deal and knowing when to buy extras.
When you find a great buy on something you use regularly or will definitely use in the future, buy extra at a bargain price rather than paying full price later on.
8. Stay cool
Photo (cc) by Mike Prosser
Money can make us emotional, but Mom knows it’s never smart to make knee-jerk decisions.
Whether we are thrilled to have a windfall or freaked by a sudden stock market dip, our moms would probably tell us to take a deep breath and sleep on it. Being money smart means making rational choices driven by the facts, not our whims.
9. Never pay full price
Photo (cc) by Thomas 8047
Reader “Beverly Gore” writes: My Mom’s best money advice was to buy the best clothing I could afford. Items last longer, fit better, and make one feel better. Also, to wait for sales and almost never buy anything at full price. Her advice has withstood the years. Thanks, Mom!”
As usual, we’ve got you covered: Here’s how to build a wardrobe of high-quality clothes with designer flair without paying full price: “12 Ways to Get Great Clothes at a Deep Discount.”
10. Open an IRA and fund it
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MTN reader John Dyson Hunt writes: “One of the best things that my Mother taught me was to open an IRA when they were first introduced, and add to it/them every year. It has made a BIG difference.”
You can’t beat the voice of experience. It sounds as if John Dyson Hunt has done well by funding his IRAs. If you are not sure how an IRA can help you, read “Confused by IRAs and 401(k)’s ? Roth and Regular Accounts Made Simple.”
11. Everything will be all right
Photo (cc) by Stewart Black
And even if our stocks tank or the boss hands us a pink slip, don’t worry. Everything will turn out OK in the end. After all, Mom’s got our back.
What about your mom? Share her best bit of money advice in the comments below or on our Facebook page.