The Best Financial Advice I Got From Mom

Everyone knows that Mom is always right. But on Mother’s Day, we could all use a little reminder.

We talked to some of our favorite financial experts about the best money advice they ever received from their moms – and how you can apply that wisdom to your own life.

Why You Should Wait Before Buying Something

When CFP Nate Nieri of Modern Money Management was little he saved up enough money to buy a video game. He asked his mom for a ride to the store to buy it, but she would only take him if he waited two weeks to make sure he really wanted it. As his mom predicted, he changed his mind before the time had passed.

“It was a very valuable lesson on impulse purchasing and patience, and something that has really stuck with me,” he said.

How to apply it: A general rule of thumb is to wait at least 24 hours before buying something or a week if the item is particularly expensive. Add it to your wish list or a special folder on your browser and walk away. Chances are, you’ll forget about the item – and if you don’t, it might actually be worth buying.

Plan Your Meals Early

Mindy Jensen, host of the “BiggerPockets Money Podcast,” said her mom told her, “Always know what you’re having for dinner by 8 a.m.”

Jensen got this advice when she was a stay-at-home mom and would forget to plan dinner until late in the day. Usually, this meant getting take-out or going to a restaurant.

How to apply it: The advice rings true, whether you’re cooking for a family or just yourself. If you can plan dinner first thing in the morning, you won’t be tempted to get DoorDash at 6 p.m. Starting in the morning gives you enough time to defrost something, throw a chicken breast in the slow cooker or run to the grocery store for ingredients.

Set Specific Savings Goals

Ricardo Pina of The Modest Wallet said his mom always told him to save for a particular item, instead of stashing money away just because it’s the responsible thing to do.

“Whether we were saving money to buy a new video game or a brand new bike, she used to say that when you have a savings goal, saving becomes so much more enjoyable,” he said.

How to apply it: Set up a savings goal in Mint. Every time you transfer money into your account named “Italy trip,” for instance, you’ll remember why you’re saving in the first place.

If you’re saving for retirement, get a clear picture of what kind of retirement you want. Whether it’s living in a Tahoe cabin or a Florida beachfront condo, a more specific image will make it easier to save.

Start Saving Early

Marcus Garrett, author of “Debt Free or Die Trying,” said his mother encouraged him to start saving early by taking him to open a savings account at age 16. When he got his first job at a movie theater, she agreed to match whatever he saved toward his first car.

“By age 16, I already saw and understood the value of an ‘employee match,’” he said.

How to apply it: If you have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you may receive a company match. This means the company will contribute money to your retirement account, usually up to a certain amount. Always contribute enough to earn the full company match, because it’s essentially free money.

If you’re a parent, you can also utilize this strategy with your own kids by matching every dollar they save. It will encourage them to save more, because every dollar they put away will be doubled.

Don’t Rely on Future Earnings

Jacob Wade of I Heart Budgets said his mother-in-law gave him some crucial advice when he and his wife first got married: always live on last month’s income.

“That changed everything for us and helped us avoid day-to-day financial stress,” he said.

It took him and his wife six months to save up a full month’s income, but it’s been worth it. Even 13 years later, they still live on last month’s earnings.

How to apply it: Having a month’s worth of income in the bank means you won’t have to wait for payday to afford your bills. If you’re self-employed, this is especially important because clients can pay late. If you have enough money in your checking account, you won’t have to dip into your savings to make rent.


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