The Best Money Advice from Mom
By: Geoff Williams
When we go to professionals like a financial adviser or accountant for advice, we aren’t only consulting that person, if you think about it. We’re all vessels of what we’ve learned throughout our lives. So when we consult with a financial planner or a stockbroker, we’re also getting advice they’ve filtered through a magazine article they read over breakfast, knowledge passed onto them from colleagues or college professors and certainly lessons learned from their parents. So in honor of Mother’s Day, we’re offering up some money tips – advice from the mothers of personal finance professionals throughout the country.
You’re the hero of your own story.
“There is no Prince Charming that is going to ride up on a white horse and save you financially … at least not forever. Don’t depend on anyone to pay your way in life – get an education and pay your own way. It’s important to stand on your own two feet so no one will ever be able to take away your ability to make money and live the life you imagined.”
This was advice often given to Samantha Fraelich-Rohe, vice president of Bernard R. Wolfe & Associates, a certified financial planning firm in Chevy Chase, Md. Fraelich’s mother, Jeanne, 54, was a single mother who scrubbed people’s floors during the day and then came home to raise three children.
Budget – for everything.
“When I got my first job as a bag boy for a neighborhood grocery store, I would take my weekly paycheck to one of the cashiers and turn it into cash. I would then take the cash home where my mom taught me to set up several envelopes for different categories of spending. Some went in the gas envelope – but not much, since gas for my car was only about 35 cents per gallon. Another envelope for personal expenses like haircuts, because I actually had hair back then. Yet another for car insurance, and that one got rather thick with cash because that bill only came in every six months … You get the idea. She did not call it such at the time, but my mom was teaching me how to budget.”
Mike Davis is the founder and CEO of Resource Consulting Group, a financial planning and wealth management firm in Orlando, Fla. His mother was Elizabeth Bach Davis, who died three years ago at the age of 93.
There is a difference between a want and a need.
“For many years, my mother raised my sister and me by herself. Additionally, she ran her own small business, drove us to school, taught us valuable life lessons, and managed the household finances … She explained to me that we needed to spend wisely, and while some toys, food items, clothes and other accessories were enticing, we had greater needs, such as providing nutritious meals, a safe home and a quality education for my sister and I.”
Jamie Patrick Hopkins is an assistant professor of taxation at the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. His mother is Jane Hopkins, 56, owner of J&J Hopkins Contractors, Inc., a gutter installation and contractor company in Ellicott City, Md.
Saving now means you can spend later.
“What I really learned by watching my mom wait in patience for a new stove or other household items was the value of true financial contentment. The sense of gratification on her face when she was finally able to buy the needed item with cash created in me the conviction not only to avoid debt – buying now and saving later – but also to live a life of gratitude and contentment, whether I had little or a lot.”
Steven B. Smith is CEO of Finicity, the maker of Mvelopes, a free online budgeting service, and author of “Money for Life.” His mother, Gloria, 77, who lives in Cedar City, Utah, was a child of the Great Depression and, with her husband, had little choice but to be careful with their money. They raised 11 children.
Before you make a big financial decision, think long and hard.
“If you have a big decision – financial or otherwise, T-Chart the pros and cons. It helps you make a sound decision. Whether it is something as small as buying a vehicle or as large as launching a new business, this process helps you take the emotion out of the decision.”
Emily Nowlin, 35, is a State Farm insurance agent in Indianapolis. Her mother, Susie Ricke, 68, of Greensburg, Ind., is also an insurance agent for State Farm. To create a T-Chart, simply draw a capital letter “T” on a sheet of paper, and write “Pros” on the left-hand side and “Cons” on the right-hand side.
Save more than you spend.
“Any time I would get money for allowance, I was required to immediately put 75 percent of it into a savings account my parents had created for me. The other 25 percent would go into my piggy bank for a larger purchase that I wanted to ‘buy with my own money.'”
Michael N. Bapis is partner and managing director with The Bapis Group at HighTower Advisors, a financial services firm headquartered in Chicago. His mother is Elaine Bapis, 63, a college professor who is currently taking a year off but recently taught at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.
Pay it forward.
“Whenever I was lucky enough to receive money as a gift from family and friends, my mom was always careful to remind me to ‘save some for myself and some to give to others.’ It was a lesson we were taught when we were very young, and for as long as I can remember, I had two savings accounts for these gifts: one for my own purchases and one to spend on my siblings or those in need.”
Renee Newman is a senior vice president and the wealth management director for Sterling Bank, headquartered in Vancouver, Wash. Her mother, Sally Anderson, 72, worked not just as a financial adviser to her children, but as a maid, chauffeur and short-order cook – in other words, a stay-at-home mom – while her husband, for much of the time, was employed overseas. Anderson is now a full-time grandmother to seven grandkids.
Have your own money.
“Growing up, my parents were the traditional married couple of the 1960s and 70s. The first day they were married, my mom, still a college student, said to my dad, ‘So I guess I ask you for money now?’ I was born nine months after their wedding day. Until we were in school, Dad worked, Mom stayed at home to parent my brother and me. Dad made all the financial decisions unilaterally. Dad paid the bills. Dad, being very frugal, doled out money sparingly. Dad had big toys – a dune buggy, an antique car … I don’t remember my mom having anything frivolous … I remember very early on – before age 10 – deciding that I would never be in a position where I had to ask someone for money. I would have my own money.”
Karen McIntyre is managing director and senior financial advisor of Wescott Financial Advisory Group, headquartered in Philadelphia. Her mother, Judi Brody, 70, of Stuart, Fla., ended up going into the workforce with many of her peers, working as a reading specialist for a local school and running a travel agency with her husband, Michael. They recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
For a rich future, learn from your past.
“Values are passed down through the generations in the stories that we tell – and our family story was incredibly powerful. Growing up, my mother used to talk about my maternal grandfather, who was born into a wealthy English family and inherited what today would be many millions of dollars. Like many of the landed gentry of that era, he had scant idea for how to manage money. A gentleman farmer, he would regularly sell the estate he currently owned and buy a smaller farm, thus freeing up capital that he could then spend. By the end of my grandfather’s life, the great family fortune was gone. That story had a profound effect on my own thinking about money, and I believe it’s the reason I’ve always made sure to live well within my means.”
Jonathan Clements, based in New York City and director of financial education at Citi Personal Wealth Management, shares this story. His mother, June Dosik, 73, is now retired but spent much of her career as an executive assistant at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.