By Charlestien Harris
Mother’s Day is a special day set aside to honor the mother of the family unit, as well as motherhood and the maternal bond.
Mothers have a great responsibility and influence in the dynamics of the family and in the decision-making process when it comes to making ends meet, especially in financial matters. Whether you are a mom that works outside the home or inside the home, there is a balancing act of work, finances, and raising a family. I am very fortunate to still have my mother with me, and I still remember the money lessons she taught me as a young girl. These lessons, or “bits of advice,” have remained with me throughout my life and have helped me become the money-savvy person I am today. Thanks, mom.
For this reason, I would like to share a few tidbits my mom and other moms have shared to help guide us through our financial journey in life.
1. “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” If you are like me, you have probably heard this repeated several times when you were a kid. At the time, you really didn’t understand what that meant, except you “knew” money didn’t grow on trees because you never saw a money tree. As children, we often thought that our parents were made of money and we could put our request in, and somehow it would just happen. What we didn’t realize is that there was only so much money our parents had available to spend. Knowing how much money you have available to take care of your expenses is very important to your financial health and wealth. Know your limits and learn to say no to frivolous or non-essential purchases.
2. “Live within your means!” It is often said that keeping up with the Joneses is what everybody does. But living within your means and not comparing your life with anyone else’s can mean the difference between living a comfortable life or struggling to make ends meet on a constant basis. Budgeting is an essential part of being financially responsible for your household. Make a habit of making a list when you shop. Learn to comparison shop for the best value for your money. Set goals to help you live within your means.
3. “Always have some money set aside for a rainy day!” We all can say that all our days will not be sunny because there will be some rainy days ahead. This concept can be transferred to the financial arena as well. Emergencies happen whether we are ready for them or not. So why not be as ready as you can be by setting up an “emergency fund” to help defray the cost or impact that an emergency can cause in your financial plan? You can start small and build a nice sum if you remain consistent with your efforts to maintain order with your finances.
4. “Don’t get into debt unless you have to!” I remember my mom paying cash for just about everything! She rarely used a credit card, and that has stuck with me throughout my life. I rarely use a credit card or credit unless I really have to. Almost everyone has debt. You are not alone! But to stay away from debts taking over your finances, you need to be mindful of your credit card use, loan payments, and making sure to pay off any balances as soon as you are able to. Getting out of debt can require some savvy money moves, but it is achievable if you stick to the financial plan you created.
5. Pay yourself first!” With all the day-to-day tasks that have to be performed, paying yourself first seems like it would be easy to do. But when your expenses are due, sometimes “you” are the last on the list to “get paid.” Try to develop the habit of paying yourself just like you were a “bill” or expense due every month. Open a savings account just for you. Make regular deposits in that account to build up its value. Also you can have a pre-determined amount automatically subtracted from your regular paycheck and never miss it because it does not reach your checking account from which you pay your household expenses.
Talk to your children about money! Try to include them in the financial decision-making process in some way if possible. Also, try to make it age-appropriate. There are a lot of resources available from a variety of sources to choose from, so take advantage of the information out there. I am so appreciative that my mom shared her financial knowledge with me because her advice has really kept me from making some huge financial mistakes.
If you need assistance with tools and other helpful information to teach your kids about money, you can always access Southern Bancorp’s financial education library at www.banksouthen.com/financial-education/. Giving your kids “money advice” can often be a life-changing experience they will never forget, especially since it came from you!
Until next week – stay financially fit!