NerdWallet Moms Share Their Personal Finance Tips

Corporate News, Personal Finance

Parenthood brings joy — and new layers of complicated financial decisions. At NerdWallet, some of our personal finance experts are also parents who are navigating those choices. In honor of Mother’s Day, some of our Nerd moms share lessons they learned while preparing for their new family members, after the kids arrived, and from their own moms.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more great tips from Nerd moms, and check back next month to hear from our Nerd dads!

Amirah Raveneau-Bey, Sales Nerd

Amirah

What are some financial lessons that you’ve learned since being a mom, or as you were preparing to become a mom?

It is never too early to talk about money and why we make the financial decisions we do.  It is also important to teach them that money is not just for our own personal wishes but to donate to causes we care about and to save for the moments that we can’t foresee.   

What financial advice would you give to other moms-to-be?

Get your finances organized before the baby gets here. Once the kids come, it will be hard to find more time in your day. If you can also start to define your joint goals and get them started before kids are around is also beneficial. When you are knee-deep in kids activities, work and life, you can then focus on ensuring the plan is actually getting you closer to your outcome.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money?  

Ask questions from smart people but trust your instincts and make the best decision for you.  Your financial decisions are personal and unique to you and the life you want to create.

What financial advice did your mom instill in you as a kid?

Save what you can and make sure to pay your bills on time.  It’s an honor to receive a service or credit from someone and only fair to pay it back on time. Little did I know that it would have a big influence on how I think about credit (credit cards, mortgages, loans) and the importance it plays in the U.S. wealth accumulation.

Chi Paler, Research Nerd & mom of Kohen, Evan and Chandler

Chi

What are some financial lessons that you’ve learned since becoming a mom or as you were preparing to become a mom?

Prepare ahead of time for day care/nanny/babysitter! In addition to looking for care for your child, the financial impact is substantial — it was much more expensive than I thought because I looked at averages for my area and I decided on care that was more expensive. I had to review monthly expenditures to really ensure what type of day care I could afford.

What financial advice would you give other moms-to-be?

Do your research. The most expensive product or service is not necessarily the best. It’s tempting to get the newest, most expensive thing out there, but it’s not necessary. Consider consigned and used products or product swaps. Babies use some things for such a short time period that it doesn’t make financial sense to buy new.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money?

It’s worth the time to stay on top of your finances and not spend more than what you have to.  Do you research on what works best for you.

How has NerdWallet helped you as a mom when it comes to personal finance?

I decided I wanted to get two things after the birth of my son last year, but had delayed getting them because the research I did was so confusing. The first was a 529 account for my son’s college education, and the second was life insurance. We had an agent come to our house, and the presentation he gave on life insurance had so many options and was so confusing that I couldn’t make a decision. NerdWallet helped me figure out which 529 account and which life insurance were right for me and my family.

What financial advice did your mom instill in you as a kid?

Don’t pay more than you have to and ensure that no company takes advantage of my ignorance. So I make it a point to do thorough research on nearly every purchase I make and ensure that I understand all the fine print.

Anything else?

My stepdaughter just turned 18 and she wants to get her first credit card. I sent her a bunch of articles on credit score and credit cards and told her she needs to read these before she does that. After that, I’m walking her through the “Best College Student Credit Cards” article on NerdWallet to pick her first one. She’s super excited about it!

Diana Villalta, Sales Nerd & mom of Itza and baby on the way

Diana

What are some financial lessons that you’ve learned since becoming a mom or as you were preparing to become a mom?

I have learned that being financially responsible for my children’s future goes well beyond school. I had the experience of going through some choices with my parents, their will and other wishes, after my daughter was born. I quickly learned that having just a will is not enough to secure my children’s future. I started to research the best fit for our family and decided on estate planning, setting up a trust.  We feel so comfortable as parents to know that we are minimizing the burden on our children in the future by planning early and hopefully teaching them all about it soon.

What financial advice would you give other moms-to-be?

My advice for parents-to-be would be to go through your own process of learning. I have experienced so many people making financial decisions based on others’ circumstances, and I believe that every family is different and should require tailoring. For example, a 529 is a great way to start saving for your child’s college, but what if he or she doesn’t decide to go to college or receives a scholarship? I would encourage [you] to start thinking about finance for your children the moment you decide you have a child. The financial learning journey is long, and you want to start as soon as you can.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money?

I have taught my daughter to understand the difference between needing and wanting.  She earns an allowance, by tasks and behavior throughout the week. She also has a balance sheet, which means she keeps track of every dollar she either receives or spends. With time she has become very conscious of how she spends her money and will almost always opt out of any toy she may have her eye on.

How has NerdWallet helped you as a mom when it comes to personal finance?

Working at NerdWallet has made me extremely aware that there are financial choices I made when I was 20 years old that I haven’t changed. I’m glad to announce that being at NerdWallet has made me change my banking institutions to a credit union and start shopping for different car insurance. Using NerdWallet.com made it so easy to compare banks and credit unions, I had no excuse.

Florence Thinh Chialtas, Talent Nerd & Mom of Khai

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Share some of the key financial lessons you’ve learned since being a parent? Or leading up to being a parent?

Saving early for college: The moment I had an opportunity, I worked with one of my best friends, who also happens to be a financial advisor – and put away Khai’s college savings. I feel really proud as a parent to be able to do that. I think what’s also key is talking to your partner and having an open dialogue on how you want to approach your finances as a family unit. It could get hairy if a lot of that conversation isn’t had early on. Also, I always weigh my options when I’m looking at a purchase  —  do I spend money on this or could it go to summer camp for my daughter? When you are responsible for another human being, the trade-offs are far different.

What financial advice would you give to other new parents to be?

Kids grow so quickly! Don’t spend an arm and a leg on clothing and always buy a size up   —  it’s okay if they swim in their clothes.

What do you (or will you) tell you children when it comes to money and/or financial advice?

You have to make choices. Since Khai was 4 years old, I always encouraged her to make decisions about the things she thinks she wants. It may sound silly, but in this day and age there’s so much immediate gratification. Kids getting access to the craziest things! The commercializing of kids things is overwhelming and in their faces. You want to give you kids everything, but as my husband says, “If you give her everything, how will she know what it means to have nothing?” I want to reinforce that it takes a lot of hard work and time to make money. My daughter and I talk about what mommy does for work, why mommy works and what she’s trying to provide for the family. I give my daughter context so she understands the connection with earning a living, having money and acquiring things. I don’t think it’s ever too early to seed these lessons.

How has NerdWallet helped you as a parent when it comes to personal finance?

Working here has made me much more cognizant about using my nerdy judgement around spending. I have a great appreciation for my husbands life hacking ways to always save money.

Sharon Yep, Content Nerd

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What are some financial lessons that you’ve learned since becoming a mom or as you were preparing to become a mom?

Becoming a parent is a huge decision; you have to take into account your mental, physical and financial health. What worked best for me and my family was to talk it out. Take time to comb through your current finances and consider the money goals you have for the future. Then be honest about how adding a child affects that. Expanding your family is never going to be cost-free, so everyone needs to be comfortable with how things are prioritized. And since things will change along the way, it’s good to check in a couple times a year. Get a sitter, sleep a couple of uninterrupted hours and then talk about the important stuff (because sleep outranks all, of course). Once the kids are old enough, they can chime in, too.

What financial advice would you give to other moms-to-be?

It’s easy to get carried away worrying about all the “stuff” you need to be ready for a new child. But for me, it was much easier — and cheaper — to buy things along the way. For example, your kid may be picky about a type of pacifier or reject them altogether. In that case, stocking up on 10 different brands before their arrival leaves you with extra expense and clutter. Once you know what you need, Amazon or your local big-box store will be your headquarters. You will wonder how you functioned without two-day shipping. Not to mention, those many trips to Target acted as valuable “me time” in my baby’s early days! Thinking longer term, get started saving early. We set up our 529 plan to save for college within our baby’s first year. When family members get excited about a new addition, help them understand that pitching in for college or general savings can grow to be so much more than the crazy amount of toys they want to buy.

What do you (or will you) tell your children when it comes to money?

Live below your means and stash away the extra. That doesn’t mean you need to totally abandon your wants, but think more about your needs and how long they’ll last. A preschooler will be fine with a generic rain slicker rather than the latest coat from Burberry, even if you can afford one. My kid’s favorite toy currently is a big, empty cardboard box that he pushes around our living room. Children and adults can live everyday life without a ton of bells and whistles. By saving for the future, you allow yourself flexibility for the special things: less frequent, but bigger vacations; working until age 65 rather than 70.

What financial advice did your mom instill in you as a kid?

My mom is all about planning ahead. She had me set up a Roth IRA when I got my first paying summer job at 15. She got me excited about retirement when I was just worried about passing my driver’s ed test. What would I have spent that money on anyway? Likely one of the many fashion faux pas of the early 2000s. She taught me to put extra money away when I didn’t think I’d need it for a while, and thanks to compound interest, my Roth IRA is going to be a great asset when it’s time for me to relax and welcome retirement (however far off that may be).