I have learned some great lessons from the women in my family. My mom taught me to cook meals from scratch, which means my family eats healthier and saves money. My grandma taught me the value of thrift. Like her, I revel in using every scrap of leftovers and squeezing the last bit of shampoo and dish detergent from their containers. This is part money saving and part appreciation: You cannot feel the full value of what you have if you recklessly toss out dribs and drabs.
Of course, I’m not alone in learning from the older and wiser set. In a survey by TIAA-CREF financial services, nearly half of the adults surveyed say they looked to their parents for financial advice. In celebration of Mother’s Day, I reached out to readers to share the best money tips their moms have given them.
“Growing up, my single mother worked very hard—without a college degree—to support and put my sister and me through private school. Upon college graduation, she gave me a three-step guide to financial freedom: (1) Pay off all student loans ASAP; (2) Put away $50,000 in savings; and (3) Live on no more than 60 percent of your income, and invest the rest. I did all of those things, and the results have been priceless. I just celebrated my 14th wedding anniversary with someone who shares my financial goals, and we have been able to create a life on our own terms thanks to these principles. I was able to stay home with our four kids for several years, we take destination vacations regularly, live and work where we want, and we have healthy investments for our children’s college funds and our retirement. Most exciting, my husband recently received a patent, and we are able to fund the project to bring it to market.” —Colleen Leader, COO of Abington Club health center, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania
“My aunt taught me that experiences are more valuable than things. Thanks to that lesson, my husband and I don’t give things for gifts—we give trips. We’ve taken our nieces camping and to water parks and monster truck shows. Even though we include a small wrapped item, too, the real gift is going and spending time with us. I love it, my husband appreciates it, and we have fond memories and great relationships with all the kids in our family. And as a bonus, we spend less money overall.” —Corie Wild, mom and photographer, DeKalb, Illinois
“My mom gave me the single best piece of financial advice I ever received: ‘Before you buy anything, think of how long and how hard you had to work to earn that much money.’ When I was about 4 years old I wanted a cardboard spyglass like I’d seen in a pirate movie. It cost $1. My mother set up a few household chores, so I could earn that $1. I completed the tasks, got the dollar and bought the spyglass, which I soon lost interest in, leaving me with the feeling that I’d gotten very little for the effort I’d put in. It’s amazing how many things I’ve thought I needed over the years that turned out to be a lot less necessary when stacked up against the hours of work it would take to own them.
I drive a Honda Accord rather than a Lexus simply because, not being a car person, I don’t think I’ll get enough extra enjoyment out of the luxury car to justify all the labor the additional cost would represent. On the other hand, I recently spent $100,000 more for a house than I’d planned to because I could see that the time I’d have devoted to earning the money to pay for that particular house would be completely justified by the enjoyment and comfort I’d get out of it in the coming years.” —Barry Maher, business consultant and speaker, Corona, California
“My mom always drove a used, non-flashy, practical car and spent money on making our home beautiful. She taught me you live in your home, and your car is just a car. I’m 39 and have only owned three cars my entire life. I always buy used and always drive them until they are old, including my current ride, a 2012 Buick Enclave I purchased in 2013. Yet we just remodeled our kitchen and are saving up to redo the bathrooms.” —Jetta Roush Grano, special events coordinator, Mickey Finns Brewery, Libertyville, Illinois
“My mom taught me to never buy anything with a credit card unless you have enough money saved that you could pay cash for it on the spot. I use credit cards for convenience, but to this day, I’ve never missed a payment. I pay every balance off in full every month. Thanks to my mom, I’ve always understood that credit cards should not be used to ‘loan’ yourself money to buy things you can’t afford.” —Anonymous
“My mom taught me patience in spending my money. If I received birthday money or earned some doing odd jobs, she suggested that I wait a few days and think and plan before buying a toy, book or jewelry. Every time, I either changed my mind, or the anticipation of waiting made the purchase all that much better. Today, I avoid impulsive purchases. For example, when we purchased a home that needed repairs, my husband and I set priorities and budgeted, focusing on each project one at a time: first a new roof, then indoor paint, then tile flooring. That gives us time to comparison shop and research products and styles before making any big purchases. As a result, we tend to save money and are happier with our purchases.” —Susan Froetschel, novelist, East Lansing, Michigan
By Emma Johnson