Money tips from Mom

iStock_000017031464SmallWe all learn first and best from our parents. We learn by what they do and we learn by what they say – especially those messages that get repeated over and over and over again. Mom was a teacher by trade and she taught me some of her money-isms. Here are money tips from my Greatest Generation Era Mom.

Carry some cash.

Always have enough cash on you to get home. Mom used to get so frustrated with me when I ran around with less than $5 on me. You can’t always count on credit cards or checks being accepted. There won’t always be an ATM around when you need one. Keep enough cash on you to make it to safe haven!

My grown son and his wife accompanied us on a day trip several years ago. We decided to stop for lunch in a small Midwest town. My son whipped out his credit card to pay for their meal and was stopped cold when he found out the place didn’t take credit. He then started looking for an ATM to get cash and of course, there wasn’t one handy. Lucky for him his parents carried cash that day!

Know what you have.

Know how much you have and make sure that you and the bank agree on that amount. Mom taught me the value in knowing how much you have available to meet your obligations. Subtract out those checks, debits, ATM withdrawals, automatic bill payments and keep a current running balance.

Although my spouse and I have always been diligent about tracking our spending and knowing our balance, there was a time early on in our marriage where neither of us was much into balancing our checkbook back to the bank’s idea of our balance. After about 4 months, I decided that we needed to make sure we agreed with the bank. This was back before computers, and we didn’t have a calculator so I spent a full day doing arithmetic (because of course nothing balanced right off)!

Today we subtract all checks and balance to bank statements right away. We track net worth monthly and also keep track of any credit card charges that are going to show up on the next statement (we pay off the balance monthly and have never had to pay interest).

Don’t spend what you don’t have.

Credit wasn’t freely available when Mom was teaching me to live a financially responsible life. She lived through the depression and watched her folks have to take in boarders to make ends meet. Saving was important to her and it has been very beneficial to me. Saving up to buy what I want has turned out to be fun – the anticipation is a large part of the enjoyment. As Mom used to say, the having isn’t half as fun as the wanting.

Even Warren Buffett ‘knows where the money is coming from’ for every investment he plans on making (I went to the 2014 Berkshire-Hathaway meeting where he made this statement). Shouldn’t you?

Save your ‘savings’.

You aren’t saving money if you spend less on something and buy something else with the ‘savings’! Bank the money you save into your savings account to legitimately call it saving.

Don’t sell the farm (don’t kill the golden goose).

Protect the things that provide for your needs. Take care of your health, do the best job you can at work, mind your relationships, and maintain your possessions so they serve you well.

Put your money where your mouth is.

While not specifically about money (in spite of the word money in the phrase), this is an important lesson. Stand up for what you believe. Take action on the things that are important to you. Be willing to sacrifice something significant to do the things that need doing – don’t just talk big.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

OK, so everybody’s Mom taught them this one, but do you actually practice it?

When I vacation, I take checkbooks, cash and credit cards and I tuck each instance of each type into different locations – some on a money belt, some in the wallet, some hidden in the car, half with hubby and half with me and so on.

We have multiple financial institutions with our assets and portfolio spread out between them.

We have an asset allocation model to diversify our investments across different asset classes.

Cash and carry. If you can’t take it with you, don’t pay with cash.

Although Mom didn’t teach me this one, it is a rule I try to live by. It is similar to trust, but verify.

If I can’t have the merchandise right away, I try hard not to pay cash. I typically use credit to order online merchandise and to order from brick and mortar stores if I can’t take the merchandise home when I pay.

What are some of your Mom’s money tips?



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