Mother’s Day falls on May 12 this year. You haven’t forgotten, have you?
While you’re thinking about how best to thank Mom this year, consider some of the ways she helped marshal the family resources and taught you to save and spend money.
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
That’s the advice Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson’s mom gave him. Given that he took it and ran with it, she gets credit for helping turn him into the personal 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.
As Stacy explains in “How I Got a Perfect Credit Score in 4 Steps“:
“I’ve never paid a bill late. That’s not because I’ve always been wealthy and it’s not because I’ve never lost a job, gotten divorced or otherwise experienced financial catastrophe. The secret? Spending less than you make. Do this, and you’ll automatically create a cash cushion that will come in handy when push inevitably comes to shove.”
2. Borrow only as a last resort
Stacy’s mom also advised him never to borrow unless absolutely necessary.
Getting a mortgage may be unavoidable in the modern world — and, even then, you should compare rates so you don’t spend too much — but we doubt Ma Johnson would approve of going into debt for a big-screen TV.
3. Save for a rainy day
Moms often suggest saving for a rainy day. One day, it’s going to pour.
Eventually, you’ll want to have enough in the bank to cover at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.
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 be an excellent investment: The average high school graduate earned a median $730 per week in 2018, compared with $1,198 for college graduates and $1,825 for people with doctoral degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
5. Splurge after a job well-done
Moms are sensible, but they also know life needs to be savored.
If you accomplish a goal, complete a difficult project or reach a milestone, feel free to treat yourself to something special. However, keep the 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
Money Talks News reader “Lorilu” says the following:
“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.”
Research backs up that wisdom. Thinking or writing about what you feel grateful for can lead to a wealth of benefits such as optimism and satisfaction, researchers have found.
7. Stock up smartly
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 deal on something you use regularly or will definitely use in the future, buy extra at the bargain price rather than buying one and having to pay full price as soon as you use it up.
8. Stay cool
Money can make us emotional, but Mom knows it’s never smart to make knee-jerk decisions.
Whether we are thrilled to receive a windfall or freaked out 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 or emotions.
9. Never pay full price
Reader Beverly Gore wrote:
“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 with “15 Ways to Never Pay Full Price for Anything.”
10. Open an IRA and fund it
Money Talks News reader John Dyson Hunt wrote:
“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.”
If you are unsure how an IRA can help you, read “Confused by Retirement Accounts? Roth, Regular IRAs and 401(k)s Made Simple.”
What about your mom? Share her best money advice in the comments below or on our Facebook page.