From an early age, they teach us everything we know. They offer words of wisdom that we find ourselves returning to over and over again. They’re our biggest cheerleaders, our best advice-givers (even when it’s unsolicited it’s sometimes still helpful) and our greatest sources of unwavering support.
And yes, while moms are busy imparting important life lessons, instilling a moral compass and helping out with homework assignments, they’re also offering up the kind of money guidance that can help shape their children’s personal finance futures for the better. This week, we checked in with a few amazing moms who are teaching their daughters lifelong lessons about personal finance, and found out what’s at the top of their “must share” list.
Live (And Spend) Within Your Means
Growing up, my mom was always there to remind me that I didn’t always need the best brand — cheaper brands were okay too, even if they were not as popular. Right before I got married, my mom reminded me that I did not need to start out living (or spending) as she did. She reminded me that she and my dad had been established for quite some time, and it had taken them time and patience to grow their nest egg and savings. She told me that they had invested wisely and spent cautiously — and that slow and steady really does win the race. I want to be able to share this same wisdom with my daughter as she grows. I want her to be a good steward of what she has been entrusted with, and be able to make good decisions with her money, discerning what’s truly worthy and what’s not, just as my mom taught me to do.
—Kristen Howard, Educator, Mom of Ansley (Age 5)
Take Risks that Align with Your Vision and Values
As a mom of girls and a business owner, I try to lead by example when it comes to money and money mindset. It’s important for my girls to know what they want out of life and what they value, and to make financial decisions that align with those things. While my daughters are still young (they’re still learning their ABC’s as well as how to count coins), my goal is to instill a sense of responsibility with money, but also show them that some risks are totally worth taking if it aligns with their vision and values. When I started my business, it came with a risk for me, but it was a risk that I weighed. Ultimately, the benefits of a business in this case outweighed that risk as long as I approached each financial decision responsibly. I want them to see that they can live comfortably and still fund their dreams by making smart money decisions and remaining hopeful. As most moms do, I want them to live a life that fulfills them and understand that making sound financial decisions is part of what makes that happen.
—Heather Burright, CEO of Skill Masters Market and Mom to Ella and Cora
Be Real with Your Money (and Your Budget)
As a divorced single mom of two, money is an active and fluid topic in our household. I have real conversations about budgets and savings on a weekly basis with my children. It is so important to me to prepare my daughter with practical financial knowledge so that she can have the confidence and ability to stand on her own two feet in the real world. Budget is NOT a 4-letter word. It is so important to put down in front of you the “must haves” such as food, shelter, transportation, utilities, clothing, and savings. But I also want her to know the importance of including fun with your money because we all know starvation diets never last and it’s okay (and can be really enjoyable) to celebrate, especially if your budget is in check. I’ve had to teach her that even if she does have a financial setback or something unexpected does come up, starting over does NOT equal failure. We’ve talked about showing ourselves grace and re-centering for a new beginning.
—Kimberly Bowers, Merchandising Professional, and realtor at 24fifteenREALTY, Mom of Madison (Age 16) and Walker (Age 8)
Inventory What You Have
My husband and I, after taking a financial class together early in our marriage, began to see things through the same lens and realize the value of setting budgets and saving for goals rather than borrowing. We’ve actually taught (and continue to teach) our children money principles through an allowance system that isn’t tied to their chores. Each month when my kids receive their age-specific allowance, my husband and I help them allocate it into giving, saving/investing, and spending. My particular joy has been to watch them use their giving money to go to causes that are meaningful to them at their school, church, and the community. And it’s especially rewarding to see them achieve a savings goal they’ve been working on for a long time!
We talk about the opportunity cost of money and that if they spend it on x, they won’t have it to spend it later on. As our oldest daughter entered high school and was concerned about her wardrobe and wanting new clothes, we began giving a seasonal clothing allowance. It’s been a great learning experience for her to inventory what she already has, decide her needs vs. wants, spend wisely, and budget accordingly — and it’s eliminated me feeling like a human vending machine, dispensing new clothes at every turn! By teaching them healthy money principles at a young age via budgeting and prioritization, my hope is that they’ll have lifelong financial success.
—Julia Pelton, Small Business Owner and Mom of Maggie (14)
You Get What You Pay For
I can still hear my grandfather’s voice saying: “You get what you pay for.” Now that I’m a mom, I want my daughters to understand this advice as well and know that the bright, shiny trinket that might catch their attention and look good, may not last the long haul. They’re starting to see that some items end up in the trash can sooner rather than later. I like to encourage them to do their due diligence when it comes to saving and spending. I encourage them to invest in good, high quality products and services from the beginning. Of course this advice certainly isn’t a free pass to avoid price comparisons, nor does it justify overpaying for a good or service. Rather, I want them to learn to avoid spending more money later on in order to replace something that couldn’t stand the test of time. Thankfully, they’ve become pros at inspecting items they wish to buy, comparing prices with similar items, and saving up for the more durable item. I’m really proud that they are light years ahead of where I was at their ages!
—Melissa Carden, Mom of Mae Margaret (Age 10) and Vada (Age 8)
Be Financially Independent
My ultimate goal for my daughter is for her to be able to live comfortably and within her means. I want her to understand the importance of saving, and especially the importance of an emergency fund for when unexpected expenses pop up. I recently encouraged my daughter to get a part-time job. She does great in school, and this year since she turned 16 and had a little extra time on her hands, getting a part-time gig was a natural progression. She applied for jobs, went on interviews, and ultimately landed a job in a local outdoor gear store. (Of course that excitement turned to dismay right after her first paycheck, when she learned valuable lessons about taxes and gross earnings vs. net earnings.) It’s been such a joy to watch her save for items she really wants, and budget for gas so she can get to work. I’ve been impressed watching her strategize and plan ahead about the exact career she wants after high school and college so she can one day have the financially independent lifestyle she desires.
—Meredith Nelson, Vice President of Marketing at Southern States Bank, Mom of Lucy (Age 16)
Avoid Impulse Buys
My daughter and I love shopping together, and our discussions about money right now revolve around making or not making a purchase. My hope is that these are moments where I can teach bigger concepts with a small purchase. She knows to avoid impulse buys as a general rule, and if she finds something that she really likes but the price isn’t right, we strategize on the best decision, which might include foregoing the purchase altogether, sleeping on it, or doing a little research on the item and shopping around. (You don’t need a business degree to do a little internet research on what something costs or should cost!) I’ve also taught her that in order to purchase the things we want, then we have to save and budget. If you have the cash on hand, then you’re able to pounce a great deal when you come across it. Ultimately, I want my daughter to understand the psychology of consumerism and marketing tactics used to influence her decisions, and be in control of her choices and finances — not controlled by debt.
— Lisa Cantavespre, Mom of Cecilia (Age 16)
All these lessons and so many more are covered in the new How To Money book, by HerMoney’s Jean Chatzky and Kathryn Tuggle, and we’d love for you to pick up a copy!
MORE ON HERMONEY:
- 6 Women Who Made it Through the 2008 Recession on Their Best Money Advice
- Moms: How to Give Your Daughters the Gift of Financial Advice
- 5 Money Tips for New Parents
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