You should probably listen to your mother. But when it comes to finances, most people don’t.
A minority of Americans report that they look to their mother as a source of money wisdom. Just 16% of people surveyed by CreditCards.com said that mom was the biggest financial influence on their life, with younger people most likely to cite their mothers as an important force (31% of people between 18 and 29). Older people, in contrast, were most likely to name themselves as the biggest financial influence in their life. The important of parental opinion definitely appears to diminish the longer a person has been away from the nest.
Easier access to financial information online could be one reason why mom’s influence has waned. “It doesn’t matter what you need to know — if it’s how to rewire your house or how to build a budget — you can find a four-minute video online on how to do it,” said John Linfield, executive director for the Institute for Financial Literacy, in a statement discussing the survey results.
But despite the abundance of online financial resources, parents still play a crucial role in teaching fundamental financial lessons to their kids. “I think families that communicate early on about financial matters are the ones that thrive at the end,” said Elaine King-Fuentes, founder of the non-profit Family Money Matters.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve put together a list of five key money lessons that your mother may have taught you. These sensible tips for approaching money and finances are all too easy to forget as you get older. Do yourself a favor and recharge your finances by getting back to basics.
1. Be on time
Chances are, your mother impressed upon you the importance of being on time. Yet many Americans didn’t get the message. Thirty-three percent of people admit to not always paying their credit card bill on time, according to CreditCards.com. Keep your credit score high and avoid late fees by not missing those important due dates.
2. Be prepared for emergencies
Moms are usually masters at dealing with life’s little emergencies. Take a cue from her by preparing yourself for the unexpected. Set aside cash for emergencies and make sure you have adequate insurance coverage (home/renters, health, auto, etc.).
“Without an adequate rainy-day fund, we are all living on a very slippery financial slope. The unexpected, unplanned expense is going to rear its ugly head and usually at the most inopportune time,” Gail Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, told Bankrate.
3. Save your pennies
Did your mom let you spend your entire allowance however you wanted, or did you have to save a portion of it? If she made you do the latter, you got a valuable financial lesson. Saving part of what you earn makes it easier to avoid debt and achieve big financial goals, like buying a house, sending your own kids to college, or retiring. Unfortunately, most people have either forgotten those childhood savings lessons, or they never learned them in the first place, as the average savings rate in the U.S. is a dismal 5.3% according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
4. Know when to say no
If there’s one thing most moms excel at, it’s saying “no.” “No, you can’t have a candy bar.” “No, you can’t have a new toy.” “No, you can’t have a pony.” Not getting exactly what you wanted when you wanted it may have seemed unfair when you were a kid. But as an adult, the ability to distinguish between needs and wants will serve you well and help you keep spending under control.
5. Take responsibility for your actions
Moms have a way of finding out when you screwed up. And they usually don’t appreciate it when you try to shift responsibility for your mistakes onto others. Keep that in mind next time you try to blame someone else for your money troubles. While some situations are truly beyond your control, overspending on luxuries, splurging on a too-big house, or racking up loads of debt because you can’t live within your means are problems you create for yourself.
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