Money and credit lessons learned from mom

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If you’re making savvy financial decisions, you may owe mom a debt of gratitude

 

Whether you’ve recognized it yet or
not, your mother’s financial habits almost certainly left an impression. At an early
age, too.

According to a December 2017 study, “Spendthrifts and Tightwads in Childhood:
Feelings about Spending Predict Children’s Financial Decision Making,” kids between the ages of 5 and 10 have already absorbed
their parents’ economic attitudes and actions.

Mothers tend to have a particularly
intense impact, though, says Doria Lavagnino, co-founder of CentSai,
the financial education platform that delivers lessons through storytelling.

Mothers often spend the most time with
their children, instructing them both verbally and through example.

“For instance, when moms take kids to
the grocery store, look at the prices, compare and then decide what’s
affordable, they’re giving daily lessons using a real-life approach,” says Lavagnino. “Oftentimes we don’t realize how
much our mothers have actually taught us about money.”

To celebrate our mothers’ contribution to our
financial well-being, here are 10 financial lessons gleaned from mom:

1. If you can’t pay for it right away,
don’t put it on a card.

Nicole Cueto, a public relations professional, says the lesson she learned from her mom is that if she can’t pay for it, she shouldn’t put it on a card.

“She was young when she had me – just 19 – and didn’t
come from a lot of money,” says Cueto. “My mom didn’t want us to struggle
as she did. All her friends were out buying frivolously, but her priorities
were different. She wanted to instill financial sense in us.

“She said, ‘If you
don’t have the money for it now, don’t try to find a way to buy it because
you’ll end up paying double for it with the credit card. You have to pay for it
all at the end of the month.’

“She was always advocating for us being
responsible credit card users. I take that with me. Sometimes I don’t heed her
advice, but when I find myself in the position of too much on my card, I think, ‘Darn,
Mom was right!’”

2. Don’t count your financial chickens
before they hatch.

“My mom would
always tell us to not spend money until it’s really in the bank,” says Chuck
Casto, a marketing entrepreneur. “She said, ‘If it doesn’t come in like you
think it will, you’ll spend more than you have and end up in debt.”

Her
pragmatism was due to being born in the middle of the Great Depression and growing
up in a family of struggling Yugoslavian immigrants.

“Money was tight for her
until she married a guy who went to Princeton,” says Casto. “Then she had an
upper middle-class life, but she kept her values, which she passed on to her
children.

“Today, as an entrepreneur I can get excited after a great meeting,
but I hear my mom’s voice warning me, ‘Don’t count your chickens before they
hatch!’ It’s kept me realistic. I thank her for that.”

3. Always have a stash of cash.

“One of the biggest and most
valuable money lessons my mother has taught me is to have cash on hand,” says Paulana Lamonier, a multimedia journalist with the Evangelical Crusade
News Network. “Even if it’s just a spare $20 tucked away in your glove
compartment in your car, it’s important to have for the simple fact that you
never know when an emergency comes up.”

As Lamonier points out, even in this electronic
payment environment not every establishment accepts plastic, and ATMs aren’t
always available.

“One of the habits my mom instilled in me is make a trip to
the bank at the beginning of the week to withdraw the amount of money I need
for the week, just to refrain from using my cards and to take account of my
spending,” says Lamonier.

4. Know what’s important – and money isn’t
always it.


Wanting great wealth and a successful business are fine goals, but leave it to
a mother to remind a child – even a grown one – about priorities.

“I learned
from my mom that money is secondary,” says Alex Furmansky, founder and CEO of
Budsies, a custom stuffed animal company.

Furmansky pitched his company on “Shark Tank,” and received an investment offer from Kevin O’Leary. Furmansky turned it down. O’Leary
wanted to price the toys outside the means of the average family, and based on
what his mother taught him, that didn’t feel right.

“She has always let me know
that there are much bigger and more important things in the world than money.
In business it’s always a great reminder,” says Furmansky.

“She said, ‘If you
don’t have the money for it now, don’t try to find a way to buy it because
you’ll end up paying double for it with the credit card.'”

5. Be financially independent.

“My mom did not work outside the
home and my parents divorced, so she had very strong feelings about her kids
never depending on a spouse,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder of Mavens & Moguls, a marketing consulting firm. “It was
very hard for her to get any credit once she was on her own.”

As a result, Arnof-Fenn’s
mother raised her
daughters to establish a career, open credit cards in their own names, and live
within their means by bargain shopping and clipping coupons.

“She told me to
negotiate for a good salary and ask for promotions,” says Arnof-Fenn. “It has served me well. She
taught me to stand up for myself and be prepared.

“When I had doubts at work,
mom would always say, ‘Don’t give up; give
’em hell!’ She was like Vince
Lombardi. It’s probably not a coincidence that I went to Stanford for my
undergrad, then Harvard business school. She died eight years ago, but she
could have been a strong CEO if she was raised in more modern times.”

6. Save for the things you want.

Danielle Desir, is a travel finance strategist whose The Thought Card blog helps people finance their vacation dreams.

“My
mother taught me to work toward multiple saving goals at the same time,” says
Desir. “While paying off $63,000 of student loan debt, I also saved for a down payment
on a house and traveled six times a year.”

Desir was able to do it all by
following her mom’s instructions: Move back home to avoid paying rent, then
work and use the income to delete the student loans while also allocating a
portion for everything else she really wanted.

“My mom was invested in my
journey,” says Desir. “When I felt defeated, she talked me through it. As a
single mother, she was very savvy and resourceful. She knew how to get things
done, and that trickled down to me!”

“My
mother taught me to work toward multiple saving goals at the same time. While paying off $63,000 of student loan debt, I also saved for a down payment
on a house and traveled six times a year.”

7. Live simply and charitably.

“Mom raised us to know that we were
put on this planet to make a difference and be generous,” says Amanda Ponzar, chief marketing officer for Community
Health Charities. Her mother’s dedication to helping those less fortunate was
instrumental.

“I’ve worked for nonprofits for over 10 years now,” says Ponzar. “Just
two weeks ago, our children joined us to pack meals for hungry children in
need. This is a legacy that my mom passed down to me.”

Her mother also showed
Ponzar how to manage money, and explained that she paid their credit card bills
in full every month.
“There were no fancy cars, houses, jewelry or name-brand
items,” she says. “We lived very simply but comfortably, we had what we needed
and she taught us to be grateful. Because of her, I am responsible with credit.
I’m not in debt, so I can give more back, just like mom.”

8. Manage your money to live securely and
adventurously.

“My mom raised me on her own in
Brooklyn,” says David Rosen, a successful New York real estate agent. “She
always lived within her means, but budgeted for a healthful and adventurous
lifestyle.”

Rosen soon adopted his mother’s strong work ethic and can-do
attitude. “When I turned 11, with her encouragement, I got my first job as a
bus boy at a restaurant,’ says Rosen. “I recall getting my first credit card at
the nearby Citibank, which helped pave
the way for my first mortgage, which I achieved when I was 24 years old.”

Rosen
went on to amass quite a bit of real estate, and he and his mother are well off
financially.

“Today, I am debt-free and bought my parents two cars and a couple
of European vacations,” says
Rosen. “I’ve also been able to pass along this
knowledge to my own clients on how save for big time purchases, such as a first
apartment and house. It’s nice to be able to reflect what I’ve learned from my
mom into my own work endeavors.” 

9. Resilience pays off.

“My poor momma worked several jobs
just to get by after her and daddy divorced,” says Adam Davis, a former police
officer and author of “Behind the Badge.” “But her attitude
was always, ‘You‘ve just got to do what it takes to survive,’” says Davis. “She
made a lot of sacrifices for me. We stayed with my grandparents, and she cleaned
other people’s houses.

“I always wished momma didn’t have to work so hard, but
she did what she had to do, financially.” Somehow, despite the hardship, his
mother always remained kind, gentle and giving.

“As a child you’re impressionable and that has
stuck with me for the rest of my life,” says Davis. “If she could work that
hard and still be loving, I could do it, too.
She had faith in God, but wouldn’t
sit back and say a prayer and hope for something better. These are core
principles I take with me today, because of my mother.”

10. Create good credit by paying on time.

“With good credit, you can have
whatever you want,” is what Carol Gee’s mother
often told her. Gee, a writer living in Atlanta, asked her mom how to get it. “Her
reply was, ‘Pay all bills on time.”

It’s
true that payment history is the weightiest credit scoring factor, but Gee
discovered that her mom’s advice is universally applicable. “When I got married,
I tried to instill in my husband the importance of good credit. It turned out I
was better with money and payments than he was, and I got it from my mom.”

If you haven’t considered all the ways
you learned about money and credit from your mother, do it now, encourages Lavagnino: “She made it all real for you, by
telling stories of her own life. You observed the way she worked, shopped,
saved and charged. That had an indelible effect.”

Consciously or unconsciously,
you gained knowledge, so if you’re making savvy financial decisions today, you
may owe your mom a debt of gratitude.

See related: 6 money experts share dad’s best credit advice, Giving credit to mom for her financial influence





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