Our money-savvy Mums…

Our Money Savvy MumsIn the lead-up to Mother′s Day this weekend, we have conducted a quick pop quiz around the CANSTAR office to find out what our respective Mums taught us about money. Personally, the lesson that best sticks in my mind and which has held me in good stead throughout my life is that hard work = reward.

As kids we didn′t get much in the way of pocket money, but we were always welcome to do extra work to earn some dollars. For me, that translated to many long hours in the garden, doing the weeding and the lessons from this were twofold: that hard work translated into reward – and also that skilled work would likely beat unskilled labour as a long-term career. It also cemented in my mind a distaste for gardening that lingers to this day!

Here is a selection from other members of our team:

‘You can do whatever you want with your life, after you get a degree’ was Mum′s advice to me. It was good advice as education is the best predictor of future wealth. She also followed it up with: “If you get a tattoo, I will cut you out of the will”.’

We had some budgeting offerings, along the lines of:

‘My mum and dad always said “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. That shows my age, doesn′t it!’

(and the updated version):

‘Look after the cents and the dollars look after themselves.’

‘I think the intention behind this lesson is hoarding… My mum would always save the small change (e.g. 5c, 10c) in a container. She would easily accumulate around $50 in small change which the bank was more than happy (through gritted teeth) to change to a larger note or to deposit in a bank account.’

‘One thing that mum taught me that has stuck with me since I first started getting pocket money as a little kid is to ALWAYS save SOMETHING each week! Regardless of how much it is – it all adds up. So at the beginning of each week to this day I make sure I check out my balances and do a quick transfer to my savings account, be it $20 or $200.’

Self-sufficiency was a common theme, including these examples:

‘We called our mother the bank because if you borrowed money from her she put it in her book and would work out the interest rate for you and keep a running tab of your bill.

‘My mum did not believe in pocket money for chores and I think I was a bit the same, however I did pay money for extra jobs. I did not believe that cleaning up after yourself constituted an extra job – making the bed, cleaning your room was a part of being the household – I did however pay money for extra jobs – eg. Washing the car, mowing the lawn, doing the washing.’

‘Mum made me buy most of my own stuff from the time I started high school. This included my television, Playstation, my bicycle and of course my computer. I got my first job as a paper delivery boy at 12 and had saved my first $1000 by the time I was 13. Mum had me doing her finances for her when I turned 15.’

‘When my sister and I were kids Mum made us save up our pocket money for toys or other special things we wanted for ourselves. There was no advance on pocket money. It took me a long time to save up for Patch, Barbie′s shorter and less attractive relative. I couldn′t hang on long enough to buy Barbie. I made do with my sister occasionally allowing Barbie to associate with Patch in carefully monitored encounters.’

‘If we wanted dolls′ clothes, the same savings rule applied. It was a great incentive to learn how to use Mum′s sewing machine, which my sister and I both did so we could make fabulous (if ill fitting) outfits for Barbie and Patch.’

‘When I finished school, my mum lent me the purchase price of my first car – $1,500 – and I paid it back at a painfully slow rate through my first year of university – about $30 per week out of my waitressing income. My Patch and Barbie sewing skills helped me to pay for the car, as I was able to save a fortune in buying and altering vintage clothes for myself, or making them from scratch.’

‘As we all know, Barbie lives on in perpetuity. Sadly, Patch was discontinued, no doubt due to having to suffer a life of dismally normal bodily proportions, tragic brown hair and freckles.’

Money-savvy Mums are similar the world over, with these two internationally-inspired examples:

‘In Russian we have a proverb that′s similar to your: “A penny saved is a penny earned”. If translated word-for-word it′s: “a cent will save you a dollar”. I am really thankful to my Mum that she taught me this as it has saved hundreds of dollars for my family. I know many people who earn much more than me but they spent it often for small and unnecessary things (this “magic” word SALE!). Every time they complain that money runs through their fingers like water I remember another proverb: “a rich person is not one who earned a lot but one who could save his money”.’

‘There are many things both my parents did to teach me the value of money:

  • I never received cash as pocket money until I reached year 10. I had to ask and justify all my material requests outside of the ones I was already provided with until I finished school
  • Once I started my bachelors, I was given 20 rupees per day (= a low to medium allowance) for lunch and a little spare – so I learnt to eat my favorite food in restaurants that offered good value for money – to this day, I don′t have any inclination to dine at fancy restaurants as I know we can get amazing food for much less elsewhere.
  • I only received new clothes for festivals – no shopping for fun; they bought new shoes if the ones I used tore. To this day I don′t keep too many pairs of footwear as my mind reads them as ′nice to have but not necessary′. Shopping was meant for buying items that were reasonable and necessary – to this day I don′t spend too extravagantly on anything as my mind is trained to distinguish between wants and necessities.
  • I was always given an upper limit on the amount we would spend on new clothes – no matter how much we liked the more expensive ones, we always learnt to remind ourselves that it was unnecessary – and not feel sad or disappointed about not being able to buy it.’

So this Mother′s Day, when you write your Mum a card, include a little note to thank her for the lessons she taught you along the way. Let her know that you′re doing better because of those lessons. Chances are, that would mean more to her than any expensive gift.

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