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8 Important Money Lessons We Learned From Mom

May 10, 2018
Personal Finance
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We learn a lot about money — and life — from our moms.

Whether yours raised you to be a thrifty shopper or taught you everything you know about investing, the views you have about finances were likely shaped by your mother in some way.

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, NerdWallet employees share some of the best financial advice they picked up from their mothers over the years.

1. Take pride in frugality …


Source: Sara Collins

“My mom framed the idea of finding great deals and discounts as a fun challenge and an achievement rather than a necessary compromise. As an adult, I’ve learned that there are times when it’s OK to invest in newer or higher-quality items, but to this day, my first reaction to someone complimenting anything I own is to blurt out, ‘Thanks, it was 70% off!,’ or ‘Can you believe it was only (some obscenely low amount)?’ I’m so glad I was raised to view frugality as both common sense and a skill to be proud of.”

— Sara Collins, user operations

2. … but an occasional splurge is OK, too

“My mom reminds me that sometimes it’s OK to spend money on something that brings you lots of joy!”

— Alison McGlone, head of brand marketing

3. Invest in your health


Source: Courtney Alev

“My mom is pretty frugal and very good with money, which definitely rubbed off on me. But one piece of financial advice she gave me is that money spent on your health (doctor’s visits, preventive care, mental health, etc.) is always important and a priority. It’s so easy to ignore your health because it’s so expensive in the U.S., but it’s really the most important thing.”

— Courtney Alev, product manager

4. Build credit


Source: Megan Barrie

“My mom always told me to use my credit card to build my credit and always pay it off on time through autopay. Thanks to her, I’ve never missed a payment and have excellent credit.”

— Megan Barrie, campaign lead

“My mom told me to start building credit as early as possible and pay it off every month so I could have a good score later in life. She added me to one of her accounts when I was a teenager (although I actually never used that account!), and then I got my own credit card from Discover when I started college. My credit score 10 years later is really high, and people are pleasantly surprised whenever I apply for something.”

— Caitlin Barta, UX researcher

5. Know where your money goes


Source: Kim Palmer

“My mom emphasized that I should always understand where and how my money is being invested. She shared how she once trusted an investment advisor who ended up losing a significant amount of her savings and she warned me not to make the same mistake.”

— Kimberly Palmer, credit cards writer and spokesperson

6. Be financially independent


Source: Amy Hubbard

“My mom comes from a generation of women who could find themselves stuck in a bad situation because they didn’t get education and training to support themselves financially. Although happily married, she wanted her four daughters never to have to depend on anyone else to get by, so her advice for us was: ‘Get your education and get your career in place before you do anything else.’ Today, the workplace is friendlier to moms and families. But her advice of financial independence shaped my choices and, as a younger woman, provided steely purpose that kept me on course.”

— Amy Hubbard, assigning editor for banking

“My mom advised me to never rely on a man for money or long-term financial support.”

— Lindsay Konsko, user operations

7. Live beneath your means

“My mother instilled in me the importance of living below one’s means. One of my most vivid early memories is of really wanting a subscription to Tiger Beat magazine, which cost more than my allowance paid at the time. I remember the conversation my mom had with me about it felt so grown up. Somewhere I have an old journal where I wrote down the thrilling new words like ‘budgeting’ and ‘percentage’ and ‘earnings’ so I could savor their terrible importance.”

— Cori Young, user operations

“My mom told me, ’You don’t get rich by spending all your money.’”

— Tina Orem, tax writer

8. Save up for a home

“My mom keeps telling me to travel less and buy a home. I’m trying to figure out how to travel more and buy a home!”

— Fahd Butt, engineering manager

» MORE: How much house can you afford?

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