‘You Can’t Afford To Be Cheap’: Tips From Smart Moms On Money
Whether the messages are good or bad, harmful or helpful, most of our hard-wiring around money comes from our parents. For Kate Northrup, author of Money: a Love Story, her most valuable financial lessons came from her mother, Christiane Northrup, MD, one of the leading influencers today in women’s health and wellness.
“My mom taught me that the world is an abundant place and that each of us can manifest the abundance we need, financially or otherwise,” Kate Northrup said. “She taught me that your mindset about money matters in a huge way in terms of your ability to earn, save, grow, invest, and give money in powerful ways. She taught me that what we think about comes about.”
And apparently it’s worked – Northrup has become a leading expert in money and claiming work-life balance.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take the information from our parents and run the other way with it. That’s what Barbara Stanny had to do. The author is also the daughter of one of the founders of the tax preparation company H&R Block. Growing up, Stanny never had to think about money. Her message from her mother: “Making and managing money is a man’s job. My job was to marry a rich man. I thought her advice was great. Money was confusing, intimidating. I just wanted to spend it…like mom,” Stanny said. “But ultimately, I paid a high price for my ignorance. My Prince Charming turned out to be a compulsive gambler who lost practically all of my inheritance…which, of course, I let him manage, because that’s what I was supposed to do. Even after my divorce, I still didn’t want to deal with money. But as I’ve since learned, if you don’t deal with your money, it will deal with you.”
But there’s good news. She went on to not only manage her own money and climb out of a million-dollar debt hole, but also to empower other women to understand and grow their finances through workshops and books such as Prince Charming Isn’t Coming, Overcoming Underearning, and Sacred Success: A Course in Financial Miracles. She says that her work has been a positive force for not only her three daughters, but for her mother as well.
Here are some other examples of wise words from moms that made all the difference:
Give generously. Lynnette “The Money Coach” Khalfani Cox says that one of the most important lessons from her mother, Lucille Darrell, was to tithe and give to others. ”
Throughout my life, I’ve made of point of being generous to others, but I also recognize that we can give in many ways — including with our time, talents and our treasure (i.e. money). I’ve also learned, through personal experience, that the more giving I am to others, the more blessings come to me in my life, in a host of ways. So on Mother’s Day I’m super appreciative of the fact that my Mom always stressed the value and the benefits of sharing and giving.”
Invest in real estate. Serial entrepreneur Eugene Gamble learned from his mother Suzanne Gamble that real estate is a fundamental tenet to building wealth. She was frugal with her funds to begin with, and then whenever a windfall came through prize bonds, an inheritance or a dividend, she’d put it toward real estate. “My mother has built up a portfolio of properties over the course of her lifetime and instilled this lesson in me from a young age…. There are so many ways to invest in real estate from the simple buy and hold to more creative title splitting that you are bound to find something that works for your circumstances,” Gamble said.
You can’t afford to be cheap. Nenad Ćuk, co-founder & CEO at CroatiaTech.com, said his mother, Mira Ćuk, instilled the value of buying quality over quantity. She would tell him, “We’re not rich enough to buy cheap stuff.” The lesson she was trying to make, Ćuk says, “is that we can’t afford to continuously buy cheaper versions of something that keeps on breaking, and has to be purchased over and over again. Whether this is a t-shirt that stretches out after two or three washes, or a pair of shoes that fall apart if you kick the ball once.”
Calculate the hidden costs. Dan Wesley, founder CreditLoan.com (and a Forbes.com contributor) said he was able to start his business with a $5,000 tax return and bootstrap it to an eight-figure exit in eight years precisely because of what his mother, Emelina, taught him. At 18, he’d wanted to buy a 12-year-old 1983 V-8 Mustang hatchback on the spot. His mother also thought the car was beautiful, but she said, “let’s take a step back son, and look at the whole financial picture.” She required him to consider how much insurance would cost and to learn what comparative costs were for similar vehicles (she had a “three proposal policy” for any major decisions through her work at Coldwell Banker). “After getting an outrageous insurance quote and finding similar vehicles for sale, I ended up getting a Honda Prelude,” Wesley said. “To this day, I still use the ‘three proposals,’ and if anything, it functions as timeout so I don’t make a impulsive decision.
Learn everything about your business. “As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, my mother worked her way up from nothing to become a successful real estate entrepreneur—all of this during a time when female leaders were few and far between,” says Bennat Berger of his mother, Debrah Lee Charatan, both of whom work in New York real estate. “My mother’s ambition and financial savvy were a blueprint for my own: I learned how to strike a deal, whether at a flea market or the real estate market. I learned the financial ins and outs of running a business, how to sustain and scale capital, and why wealth is more meaningful when you use it to elevate causes you care about. It wasn’t always my intention to follow in her footsteps, but today I’m proud to be an entrepreneur and philanthropist like my mother. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be on the receiving end of her wisdom.”
Ask yourself: How hard did I work for this money? Sheryl Hill, executive director for DepartSmart.org, a resource for traveler safety, said her mother grew up as a poor migrant worker with 10 siblings. They lived in a tent they folded and hauled from job to job on a flatbed truck. “She taught herself to read and earned her high school diploma when she was 50. She wanted better for us,” Hill said. “She’d remind me of the days I used to walk behind her with a pillow case over my shoulder and pick cotton. … At the end of the day I’d get a quarter, which seemed like a lot of money in the early 1960’s. Of course, we’d want to spend it.” But then she would ask them if whatever they wanted was worth an entire day’s work to earn that quarter. If Hill saved the money, her mother would match it. “I bought my first house when I was 19. Paid cash for my cars. And passed this lesson on, with love,” Hill says.
Go on vacation, for real. Nicole Stillings (aka DJ Rosé) says she learned a lot about hard work and efficiency from her mother, neurologist Karen Pentella, MD, but one of the best lessons was to truly take a break. As a busy soloprenur, Stillings was worried about leaving for vacation in Japan while work requests piled up. Her mother convinced her to unplug and go. The work would be there when she got back. “Freeing your mind of daily stresses creates room for the big picture ideas that you can execute when you get back to work,” Stillings said. “I came up with my largest promotion project to date while I was away … When you take a vacation you’re more likely to meet genuine friends that can lead to business connections. When you network, people feel hustled. This approach has had a profoundly positive financial impact on my business. I met one of my current clients while I was at Coachella last year and they ended up taking me back with them this year and we’re doing more and more work together.”
Everything’s negotiable. Jonathan Wolff’s mother, Amal Wolff, immigrated to the United States from Egypt. “In her home country there aren’t set prices for products and services. Everything is negotiable,” he said. He’s watched first-hand as she got better deals on cars, furniture, home improvement and even dental work through staying firm in her position while remaining unflappably kind. “This life lesson is one of the ways I fell into business. My startup, Shrinkabill.com is a professional negotiation company based in Delaware and founded in 2016. We are available to help anyone with a cable, internet, or cell phone bill keep their existing plan and lower their monthly payments. We will shrink your bills. You’ll have to call my mom to find out how haggle with the handyman,” Wolff said.