11 Great Pieces of Money Advice From Mom

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 Jaou TrindadePhoto (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

5857483483_1ce3487121_oPhoto (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

6793826885_6fdd19b3c4_oPhoto (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.

4. Graduate

Photo (cc) by Southern Arkansas UniversityPhoto (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 DolettePhoto (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 HainPhoto (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

16629169609_4255cbb662_kPhoto (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 ProsserPhoto (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 Thomas8047Photo (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 BlackPhoto (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.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

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Comments

  • Beverly Gore

    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!

    • Ryan Montana

      “Shocking” that a mom’s money advice would revolve around shopping.

  • Nancy

    Mostly my mother taught me never to talk about money, which led to all sorts of problems for me. However, she also taught me early how to calculate unit price to choose the best deal.

  • John Allen

    Mom taught me that there is more to life than money.

    • bigpinch

      And then she died.

  • Tom

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
    If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • njmom

    “Get a good education and be independent so you don’t have to put up with the crap I have to.”

  • Be sure you have a plan about spending your money for whatever item. And always think of this: „If you by cheap you’ll probably have to buy an item twice, three times or even more often. So better to collect and use the money for high quality items instead of buying bad quality items!“

  • Lorilu

    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.

  • John Dyson Hunt

    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.

  • Kathleen Martin

    My mother taught me to pay yourself first, in other words always put money in savings first then pay your bills.

  • bigpinch

    My mom: “Don’t try to live above your raisins’.” Translation: Don’t try to live better than how your family of origin did.

    • Goodchem3208

      That has got to be some of the worst advice I have ever heard! I hope, for your sake, that this was a joke.

      • bigpinch

        I wish I could say it was a joke but, no, that’s the truth with the bark left on it.

  • LagunaLady27

    Once you have a “real Job”, put at least half of every raise or bonus into your retirement savings account. You will still enjoy a boost, but won’t squander the windfall.

    • Georgia Wessling

      I did this with 100% of each raise after age 50, but I couldn’t keep it up. The reason why, is that around my 68th birthday, I went to put it into my 457b and was told I couldn’t put but about 25% of that raise. The state had a max on the deposits. You could not put in more than 25% of your gross monthly income. I could not believe it was that easy to save. I never saw it, so it didn’t bother me. Was I grateful at retirement.

      • LagunaLady27

        I know people who refuse to save because it isn’t tax free money. Seems counterproductive to me.

        • Georgia Wessling

          The State of MO only matched $25 of what we put in our 457b. This was mostly to get young people started saving even if they couldn’t afford large amounts. However, a coworker of mine and her husband didn’t do this. They were throwing away $50 a month. At retirement they took a lump sum payout. If they had had a 457b they could have added to that tax free and only paid taxes as they drew it out. However, no 457b to transfer to, so they had to take the whole sum and pay taxes on it. Wow, did they lose. They had to pay all the taxes on it right then and invest what was left. I hope they put it in a Roth IRA.

          • LagunaLady27

            Yikes. This is why I firmly believe that the country makes a really bad mistake not having a stable of experts for amateurs to use. It’s enough to prepare for one profession, to expect people to also be wizards at finance is too much.

  • grandmaguest

    My mom passed along pretty much all of the above….except the one about IRA’s as they didn’t have those back then. We grew up poor, but at the time us kids never realized that….hand me downs were normal. We had lots of love in the family….a warm meal in our stomachs and a roof over our heads. Mom pushed education and all but one of us managed to go to college without ending up in debt…..even though our parents couldn’t afford to help.
    I have passed along all of the above including the benefits of the IRA (Roths) as I lived by those rules myself as an adult. As soon as the IRA’s came about, I immediately started funding them….and switched to the Roths as I considered them even better than sliced bread.
    Thankfully my kids saw that even though by going into my field of work (which didn’t pay massive sums of money…..even in my best years, I never earned more than 40K) you can manage to save if you really try. The only other thing I taught them was, to learn the difference between “want” and “need” and that “wants” can be delayed and saved for. Delayed gratification can teach you appreciation for what you finally get.
    I am happily retired, no debt, and because of my retirement saving, live a comfortable life.
    PS….I still live well below my income but have everything I need and most of what I “want” !

  • Carol Mckellar

    Don’t marry a moocher.

  • Morgan Freeman

    Best advice I got…don’t share a bank account or credit card with anyone even if you’re married…keep your own bank account…don’t trust someone else to take care of things..trust yourself and always know what’s going on in the finances

  • Ryan Montana

    Mom said: “You can never go wrong with investing all your money (and most of your husband’s too) in handbags and shoes.”

  • Ryan Montana

    Mom said: “What I earn is mine and what dad earns is half mine” and that a girl should always try and find a man who makes enough money so that she never has to work and can sit around and get fat; play on the computer; shop; and sneak off to the casino to play the slots.

  • Ryan Montana

    Best advice from my single, welfare-4-life, Obamasite mom: “Find a rich guy and try to get pregnant by him. Then find a few more and get pregnant by them too. The more child support checks coming in, the better.”

  • Ryan Montana

    This is a stupid article, as most everyone is posting information that they learned from someone other than their moms (unless it pertains to shopping).

    Most mom’s are shopaholics who waste their husband’s money on purses and shoes and in slot machines.

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